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Topic: Begin discussion of Prodigal Summer

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Date Posted: 9/20/2012 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
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The three major story lines are named "Predators," "Moth Love," and "Old Chestnuts." Why, besides acknowledging her respect for coyotes, spiders and other predatory creatures, are Deanna's chapters named "Predators?" Does her love of predators make her the "natural" lover of Eddie Bondo? How does Lusa's life mirror the life cycle of her beloved moths? How does her love of insects lead to her emergence from her cocoon of grief (i.e. her relationship to Crystal)? How do Garnett and Nannie remind you of "old chestnuts?" Are they extinct? Are they the few lone trees left alive after a blight?

First off with the "Old Chestnuts" I think it's meant to be sort of like saying these two and their fued is played out and no longer relevant. I don't think they are extinct but their old fued is. As for Lusa she resembled the moths in her zig zag path to everything, she zig zagged into a loving family, she zig zagged into a successful farm, etc. I don't think Eddie is the predator in Deanna's chapters I think she is, she is the coyote. She's the one who tracks and hunts down the hunters and forces them to leave the predators safe. Eddie is like her prey.

Date Posted: 9/20/2012 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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We know that Eddie was a predator, he came with a rifle just to kill coyotes.  Deanna hounded him about them until he ultimately left them alone, and went after her instead.  In a way, I agree with Chris, that Deanna's quest to change his mind made him her prey.

Nannie and Garnett's chapters called Old Chestnuts was so appropos in my mind.   The dictionary of idioms defines "old chestnut" as this - a subject, idea, or joke which has been discussed or repeated so many times that it is not interesting or funny any more.  Nannie was an environmentalist to the point that it drove Garnett to distraction.  He repeated his routine to the point that no one even noticed him anymore unless he wasn't there like not getting to the diner for fish on Friday.  Like Chris, I think the feud went on so long that no one paid any attention anymore.

The idea that Lusa flitted from one thing to another is an interesting point.  She broke free of what was expected of her, not planting tobacco and raising goats instead.  Bonding with Crys over bugs was a way to get past the girls defenses.


Date Posted: 9/21/2012 8:33 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 948
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Excellent points about Deanna and Eddie's Predator/Prey relationship:  Eddie is the predator and Deanna turned into prey.

Old Chestnuts perfectly describes Nannie and Garnett, thank you Carole for inserting the dictionary of idioms, I wouldn't have thought about it that way, but the shoe fits perfectly.

Same with Lusa, she went through a transformation just like moths and butterflies do, also helping a misfit girl by adopting/raising her.

Thank you for having brought up these ideas.  You made me see the book in a much wider lens than I did before.

Last Edited on: 9/21/12 12:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/25/2012 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2011
Posts: 2,353
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Just to have a little more discussion on this book, I found a couple more questions. 

Discuss the relationship between Lusa and the Widener family.  How does her relationships with the sisters change?

Date Posted: 10/3/2012 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2012
Posts: 175
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I don’t know why, but throughout the book I equated prodigal with prodigy.  I was thinking that it was a Special Summer, but that didn’t fit, because for most of the characters, the summer was more complicated than special.


I think they all end up protecting things in their own way.  I think that Deanna protects the coyotes in the beginning and then that turns into her protecting her unborn child or maybe her own heart.  I think that Garnett protecting the chestnuts is remarkable, but probably too little too late.  It seems as he is getting too old to continue his work, and there is no one to take it up.  Now Lusa in the end, protected her nieces and nephews.


This story took me on highs and lows and I really loved it, much more than I thought I would.  I especially liked the writing when she described Deanna in the woods.


I was hoping that the stories would all collide together as Chris said, but I enjoyed the subtle way that she connected everyone and the fine lines that are there making the connection.


I don’t think the relationship between Deanna and Eddie changed either of them.  Otherwise I think the story might have ended with them together instead of apart.


I think she should have told him about the pregnancy.  That was supreme selfishness on her part.


On the other hand, I could see in that hug that Nannie and Garrett changed completely and I’d like to think that they get together and become friends and more after that.