Thursday, October 18, 2007

OSB discussion questions ~ chapters 1-9

14. We haven't talked about Jake's fall yet, when he was showing off and Arthur was tired of Jake's foolishness. Then IT happened, the defining event of their lives:
"Art!" -- his voice a shriek -- "I'm going to fall."

"Good," Arthur said. A word that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

He felt Jake fall. Felt his weight leave the bridge. Just like that.
What did you think of the two when you read that? Arthur later blames himself and always, always feels guilty. Should he feel guilty? Later, Arthur is confused that Jake doesn't tell their parents what Arthur had said. Why do you think Jake didn't tell?

15. After the casts came off, Jake had a limp. Why do you suppose Mary Lawson gave her character a limp? In the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, Jacob (the younger) has a limp after wrestling with an angel (or a man) on the night before meeting his brother 20 years after having cheated him out of their father's blessing. Do you think Mary Lawson had that story in mind when she was writing about Jacob and Arthur? Jake, of course, used that limp to his advantage.

16. Arthur was still in the eleventh grade at age 19, and a friend said to him:
"Why don't you just stop goin', Art? She can't make you. You're bigger'n she is." Arthur thought about it. Imagined himself standing in the kitchen, saying, "I ain't goin', Mum. That's all there is to it. I just ain't goin'." But he could never get the picture to come clear. He had never defied her and guessed he never would. (p. 107)
What did you think about Arthur at this age? What would you have wanted to say to him, if you were his friend? What would you have done in his place?

17. When Arthur was rejected by the army because his feet were flat, his mother said he'd be "free to carry on with his education." His father said, "If he can't fight, he has to farm." And Arthur thought, "Freedom. Nineteen years old, flat-footed and riddled with guilt, but free at last." (All quotes are from p. 114, hardback edition.) "Free at last" reminded me of Martin Luther King's speech, but in what way was Arthur now free? What did this feeling of freedom mean for Arthur?

18. Ian often seems angry or frustrated, but I could relate to the way he felt one day:
Ian cycled home, anger and frustration gnawing at him. He wished he could withdraw from everything -- go and live in a cave. He couldn't imagine how mankind had managed to make such a mess of things. (p. 131)
I (Bonnie) almost laughed because I remember when my children were small I had a half-way joke I'd tell people: "I intend to have a nervous breakdown, just as soon as I find the time." Has anyone else ever felt this way?

19. And here's how Cathy made Ian feel:
She was so enthusiastic, that was the problem. Her enthusiasm wore him out.
Has that ever happened to you?

20. The fellow who was charged in the fight which caused the death of the logger was arrested, and Ian wondered,
"What'll happen to him?"
"He'll be shipped down to the district jail in Haileybury. I think he's going on Monday. They've got a presiding judge there."
So many place names are made up by an author that I usually just make a mental note and skim over them, but this line stopped me in my tracks ... because someone from Haileybury, Ontario, Canada visited the blog this week! If you are still around, tell us a little about the area. If any of you Book Buddies are familiar with Struan or Haileybury or any other part of the book's setting, tell us about it, please.

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