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Topic: *February RAL Discussion: Chapters 53-55*

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Subject: *February RAL Discussion: Chapters 53-55*
Date Posted: 1/27/2013 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Discuss!

OBVIOUS WARNING:  Since these are discussion threads, you can be certain there will be spoilers galore.  Your best bet is to stay away from a discussion thread until you've read the chapters it pertains to!  

 

Date Posted: 2/5/2013 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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This was a 5-star read for me even though I have a slight objection to the extent of Lavinia's innocence. I'd allow that it could happen. I do think the author portrayed Southern life during the times accurately, and most importantly, she gave us a realistic depiction of what life was like for the slaves.

And Marshall got what he deserved in the end, although I even have some pity for him because he sure wasn't taught how to love.

Great story. A keeper!

Date Posted: 2/7/2013 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Genie, I agree, and like you, I blew through it in a few nights and so have skipped the intermediate chapter discussion threads---I loved it! It was like a train wreck--I had to keep watching, even though I had strong suspicions of what was going to happen. I really did like the alternating white/black perspectives, I thought the portrayal was accurate and feel that things like this--incest, rape, slave 'management' of various issues affecting the big houses--really did go on all the time. It's almost a guarantee on a secluded plantation like Tall Oaks, where the community IS the big house and the quarters.

Date Posted: 2/7/2013 9:40 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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I finished last night!  What a great read.  Not necessarily a "feel good" book, but are a lot of positive messages, not the least of which is the importance of family.

I too enjoyed the narrative going back and forth between Lavinia and Belle.  Nice to get two different viewpoints on the same events. 

Question - Why do you think the Captain never told his family that Belle was his daughter?  He had to know that they all believed she was his lover.  Wouldn't it have been better for all concerned (especially Belle) to admit to being her father?  I mean, he fathered her long before he married Miss Martha and before Marshall was born.  Perhaps it was the day and the age.  He did not want to admit to having had a relationship with a slave.  What's the difference?  Wouldn't it be better to admit the relationship that happened in the past to letting them think he was currently involved with a slave?  Do you think Marshall and Ms. Martha would've acted differently toward Belle or wouldn't it have mattered?  And why did Miss Martha hide Belle's free papers?  I would think she would've wanted Belle away from the plantation.  Why hide them and keep her around? 

I enjoyed reading how the author came up with the idea for the book.  How incredible to research a bit, see a map, wonder about things for awhile and then sit down to do some daily journaling and suddenly you've found you've written the begining of a book! 

Date Posted: 2/7/2013 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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>>- Why do you think the Captain never told his family that Belle was his daughter? He had to know that they all believed she was his lover. << ... I think he didn't reveal it to spare his wife's feelings. She wasn't a strong woman. Just the opposite. But he obviously cared for her. ... I think she knew in her heart of hearts, but somehow not saying it out load, makes it not true. The greatest clue that Martha knew IMO is the fact that she hid Belles freedom papers.
Date Posted: 2/7/2013 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I'm not sure knowing the truth about Belle's parentage would have made any difference.  I think Martha would have disliked her just the same, possibly even more after Sally's death.  The captain seemed to be in avoidance mode with his white family a great deal of the time.

Date Posted: 2/7/2013 4:01 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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I'm not sure he did know what they all thought--there didn't seem to be a lot of communication in that family, especially on issues such as that. I think no one ever spoke of those things. The Captain was the master and he most likely would have just done what he pleased. What I wondered was whether, had Belle's mother not died, he would have kept on with her after he married Martha....I bet he would have. I think it happened a lot. Bet many of the ladies, while jealous, were still happy they didn't have to 'perform their duties'.

 

I think she hid Belle's papers not because of what they were, because she didn't know what they were when she took them---she hid them because she would have hated any sign of special favor from her husband to Belle, especially as she thought of Belle as his mistress. More out of spite and jealousy rather than a rational look at a good consequence for herself.

 

I remember being fascinated by the white master/black slave line crossing--the 'miscegenation', if you will--that became evident a few years ago when all the DNA studies on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings' descendants were done--I think it went on a lot and that no one spoke of it because it was just how it was...

Date Posted: 2/7/2013 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Colleen i totally agree with you.  If Belle's mother had not died she would have been his ongoing mistress.

Date Posted: 2/8/2013 10:51 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Last Edited on: 9/29/13 9:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/8/2013 12:05 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Ruth, I agree w/ you--I think Mama saw a few steps ahead what was going down, and knowing she had little time (and thinking Papa George and the others had gone), she sacrificed herself.  This family, black and white, needed a really good shrink!

Date Posted: 2/8/2013 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I'm adding another vote for I don't think Captain realized his white family thought Belle was his lover.  There was way too much avoidance and willful ignorance going on with all involved. 

Overall, I too had a problem with just HOW naive the author made Lavinia, for so very long.  I think it would have been a lot more plausible to have had her life with the aunt and uncle's household shed her of some of that, and then when she arrived back at Tall Oaks, she started to "get" it a WHOLE lot sooner.  Just one event that shifted an underlying assumption, and suddenly she's seeing everything with new eyes.  That would have worked.

This novel made me wonder: how many masters and managers (Rankin) were secretly killed when they made life for almost everyone else too miserable to be endured, and they had no other way to escape it?  Sabataging saddles, poisoning, whatever.

 

Date Posted: 2/10/2013 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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Sharla--"willful ignorance"...what a great turn of phrase, that's exactly what was going on in that family! I love the expression.