Tuesday, March 18, 2008

POB - DQ 24-30

Sorry I have been a bit AWOL - I had to return the book to the library so I had to finish it off quickly, and then have been not exactly busy, but just not posting all that much anywhere!

Hanna ~ Boston, Spring 1996 ~ (pp. 191-214)

24. Marg said, "I was surprised by how quickly Hanna and Ozren fell into bed with each other." Zorro said, "She jumps in bed with Ozren on the day of their first meeting." What do you think of Hanna's reasoning, here?

I suppose I am a bit of a prude, about some things, anyway. I like loyalty. I mean, do what you like when you're single. Live and let live. Lay and get laid. But why bother to be married at all, if you don't want the commitment? (p. 197)
In the context of what had happened just before Hanna said that, I thought it was a justified response. I wonder too if it is meant to give us some idea of the growth that Hanna as a person has had since the beginning of the book, perhaps because of the relationship with Ozren. Given that Hanna already had a history with Raz, one has to respect that she has boundaries that she is not willing to cross.

I actually think the fact that Hanna jumped into bed with Ozren so quickly, and this passage are very different circumstances.

25. Will all humans someday be blended, like Raz (p. 141)? Is this the direction humanity is going? (See more in the post Benetton ad families?)

I commented in the Benetton ad post, I am the mother of a blended child, and therefore it would certainly make his life easier if it was common place and not something completely unusual.

Speaking from an Australian perspective, for a very long time, we had a very white society, unlike in America where there are lot of African-Americans. Up until the 1950s or 1960s the official government immigration policy was called the White Australia policy. We welcomed immigrants, basically from anywhere in Europe, as long as they were white. Over the years since then the face of immigration has changed, and seems to change quite regularly now. That doesn't mean to say that there weren't other cultures here but just not in any great numbers.

I do wonder if the thought of being blended is really all that new - just that the scope has changed a little. Nowadays it is certainly not unusual for people of one country to move to another country for work or political reasons, and so it is more likely that there will be more mixed relationships. Australian society has changed significantly over the last say 50 years in terms of its multicultural makeup. This may be different from the US where there has been large numbers of different cultures for a long time.

Speaking personally, I spent five years living in the UK, basically just because I could. It was there that I met my ex, who was half African and half Carribean, and his parents had met in London in the sixties. I live in a cul-de-sac where there are 6 houses - of those 6 houses as far as I can tell 3 of them house families from a typical Australian/Anglo-Saxon background, one houses an African family who come originally from Ethiopia, one English immigrants, and the other has a Vietnamese family in it.

26. Delilah Sharansky, the Jewish woman introduced on page 202, died in the accident that hospitalized Hanna's mother. Why do you think Sarah Heath never told Hanna about Delilah or her son, the artist Aaron Sharansky? Hanna is very hurt by this lack of knowledge: "It was going to take me more than one night to catch up with thirty years of missing information. Missing love. ... in the end, she'd made all the decisions, and I'd paid for them" (p. 213). And again, "Why hadn't she told me?" (p. 261).

To be honest, I don't think that Hanna's mothers reasons for not telling anything of her background really added up at all. The story of her affair with Hanna's father was moving and tragic, but she seems to have forgotten what it was to love. Having said that, I don't think it was all one sided. It was very clear that Hanna was also somewhat difficult as a teenager. In the end, it would appear that their relationship was one that was quite toxic and could not be made healthier.

Saltwater ~ Tarragona, 1492 ~ (pp. 215-258)

27. What did you think of the story of Ruti, daughter of David Ben Shoushan and his wife Miriam? Ruti was enthralled by the text, the words, the meaning of the words. Ruti understood the text, "They will build me a temple and I will dwell in them," to mean, "In them, not in it. [God] would dwell within her. She would be the house of God. The house of transcendence" (p. 234).

I found Ruti to be kind of a contradictory character. On one hand she was very devout at studying the scriptures and learning, and on the other she was involved with the book binder. Then, she was very devoted to her brother taking her risks, and in due course putting him at risk also. Her actions in relation to the baby displayed many of her best qualities, but then again, some of her not so great qualities in allowing the mother to believe that the baby was dead.

28. Look up Tomas de Torquemada, if you don't know much about the Grand Inquisitor. The chapter of Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov entitled "The Grand Inquisitor" is so important that it has been published as a small book, separate from the huge novel itself.

I actually haven't heard of this person before, but just generally the whole idea of the Inquisition is just scary, scary, scary. I do find it interesting that in his bio that there is suggestion that his grandmother was a Jewish woman who had converted to Christianity. Shades of Hitler there in that he had a Jewish heritage and yet they both persecuted the Jews.

Hanna ~ London, Spring 1996 ~ (pp. 259-272)

29. Ostensibly, Hanna is the one we are reading about here: "I wanted to give a sense of the people of the book, the different hands that had made it, used it, protected it" (p. pp. 264-265). Since this sentence provides us with a good explanation for the book's title, how well do you think Geraldine Brooks has done in giving us a sense of these people?

Having now finished the book, I don't know that we did get a great idea of the people of the book, simply because we were with them for basically one episode in the book's past, and we therefore did not really get to know them to the same depth as we would have had the novel only been about one of these incidents.

As a story about the book though, it did work for me. Taking a beautiful piece of literature and following a trail through the various physical changes that had happened to it was very interesting to me.

30. Were you expecting the death of Alia (p. 270)? Or had you hoped for a happy ending, in spite of Ozren's words to Hanna, "Not every story has a happy ending" (p. 37)?

I am generally all for the happy ending, but whilst I would have liked it in this case, I think that it was clear from the description of the injuries and the conditions that would have been prevalent in Sarajevo at the time, there was not ever much hope.

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