Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jim the Boy -- Book IV: Cold Nights

This section seemed out of place with the book so far. Cold Nights could refer to both the temperature on a December night in the mountains of North Carolina and Mama's coldness to Whitey Whiteside's courtship.

Letter from Elizabeth McBride Glass to Ralph Whiteside

Mama is definitely not interested in Whitey. She seems to be only allowing his courtship because the uncles are making her feel guilty about not have a father for Jim.

Christmas Eve

The uncles sneak Jim out to see the electric lights turned on for the first time in Aliceville. The last few paragraphs at the end of this section signify modern times and technology coming to Aliceville, Jim growing up but in school learning and practical knowledge, and change, in general, in the lives of our characters, including Mama.

Letter from Elizabeth McBride Glass to Jim Glass, Sr.

Did writing this letter help Mama sort out her feelings on the matter at hand and make a decision? She stops writing mid-sentence. Why? Is she interrupted and has to physically stop writing or does she just find that she can't go on writing it?

At the Tenant House

Jim is supposed to go sit with the uncles at the store after dinner. Even though, he isn't usually allowed to do this, he decides not to go in when he gets to the store. As he walks through town, he sees Whitey and decides to follow him. Jim follows Whitey to the tenant house where Whitey speaks to Mama from the front porch with his back to her, seemingly at her request. He proposes. It seems like Mama rejects him. Mama is sad at the end of the section. Is it for Jim not getting another father or for herself having to remarry? Mama says Jim's name as if she either let him down in what the uncles think he needs or to remind herself that she's doing it for Jim.

I wondered this at an earlier point in the book but where do Mama and Jim live? The uncles all have houses, where I assume they sleep, even though Mama cooks for them where she lives. They don't seem to live in the tenant house where Mama and her husband had lived. Before I'd thought they lived in Uncle Zeno's house. But now I'm wondering if they live in the home Mama and the Uncle's parents left? They aren't mentioned in the book so I assume they are dead cause it seems like they would have lived in Aliceville too.

Discussion Questions

15. How do Jim's uncles each play the role of father-figure? Do they make up for his father's absence? Should Jim's mother have remarried when she had the chance in order to give Jim a "real" father?

Jim's uncles pay the role of father-figures by teaching Jim life lessons, right and wrong, and by teasing him. I do think the uncles fulfill the father role in Jim's life very adequately. I don't think Jim's mother should have to remarry if she's not interested in remarrying. She seems to be okay financially and Jim has strong male role models in the uncles.

16. Jim's mother turned down the marriage proposal because she believed she had already met and married her one eternal love. Do you believe, as she does, in the idea of eternal love?

I want to say that I do because I'm sure I will always love my husband but I'm not sure I can since I also think it's possible that I'd remarry if something happened to him.

17. In the section on "Christmas Eve" Jim's uncles take him outside to see something special, the change that came to their town that night. "When he looked up at the stars, they did not seem as bright" (p. 149). Have you ever noticed how lights of a city "hide" the stars?

I grew up in the suburbs of Orlando from the time I was 8 years old to when I was 16 years old. I can remember distinctly that I was out sleeping over at a girlfriend's house which was further out in a more rural area (they also had a library with a rolling ladder!) when I was in eight grade. We went outside in the early am hours and I remember being astounded at the glowing arch in the distance that was (downtown) Orlando and at all the stars so bright against such a dark sky. This was the first time (that I remember) really seeing the stars at night.

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