I think the mother pampered Jake too much, probably because of the babies who didn't live, but it was not good for Jake. Neither was the father's lack of attention good for Jake. Toby said, "Jake did his stunts to get attention," and I think that's a good possibility. So both parents contributed to Jake's being a brat, even if we can see why they each did what they did and even if part of Jake's attitude was inborn. And then there's poor Arthur, trying to be a good boy in spite of his brother's pranks.7. Take a look at the men's relationships with their mothers. As a pre-schooler, Arthur "already knew that his mother's happiness depended on Jake's well-being" (p. 28), while school-boy Jake "had great confidence in his mother's ability to win arguments on his behalf" (p. 36). Ian's opinion of his mother shortly before she left was that she "had two moods nowadays, absent or annoyed, and whichever one she was in he invariably found he preferred the other" (p. 13). What do these relationships look like to you?
I feel sorry for Arthur that he considers it his job to keep (or make) his mother happy, but I also feel sorry for Jake who has figured out he can USE his mother for what he wants. What he's learning from her is that he can get by with just about anything. Uh-oh, I'm also feeling sorry for Ian, who tested his mother to see just how much she loved him ... and he lost ... because his mother would leave, even without him. How would it feel to think your mother's need to get out was stronger than her love for you?8. Quote something from the book that captured your attention, and tell us what you thought of it.
The Dunn men weren't big on words. (p. 30)I'd say this was an understatement! And these next two quotes tell me a lot about Arthur:
...even Jake wouldn't get his own brother into so much trouble for no reason at all.
Arthur didn't hat his brother, or not very often. Mostly he just didn't understand him. How did they get to be in the same family? (p. 67)