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Topic: *February RAL Discussion: Prologue-Chapter 5*

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Subject: *February RAL Discussion: Prologue-Chapter 5*
Date Posted: 1/27/2013 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Here is where the discussion starts for February 2013's RAL - The Kitchen House.  This section is for the Prologue - Chapter 5.  There are seven other threads for the rest of the book.  This will just be random discussion. Nothing formal here!  Post your thoughts, ask a question, post a question for discussion, answer someone else's question, whatever!  If you want to post a question for general discussion, perhaps bold it so that we all see it.

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!

Okay, people, talk amongst yourselves!

Date Posted: 1/31/2013 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Okay, people, why are their posts in other threads but not in this first one?  I just got through chapter 7 last night, so I was hoping to come here and read some thoughts on the Prologue - Chapter 5.  LOL! 

I am enjoying the book and getting to know the characters.  So far, things have been fairly okay (other than the death of Dory's baby), but I have a feeling things are going to get bleak.  I found Lavinia's story interesting.  Imagine not knowing your name, your age, or anything about yourself due to shock!  When the story of her parents dying enroute to America and then her being separated from her older brother was finally told, my heart just broke for the poor little thing. I felt so bad for her being so young and so frightened and confused.  How awful that she ended up as basically a slave.  (But, I suppose, back in the day, what else could they do with her?  She could've gone to an orphanage, I suppose, if there were such things, but most likely she would've been adopted by some family needing extra workers for their plantation and she would've ended up basically a servant anyway.)  I will be interested to see what that means for her in the future. I am assuming she won't be considered a slave since she is not black, but I'm guessing she will have to somehow "buy" her way out of servitude.  Hmm, one of many reasons to keep reading!

The story of Belle is interesting too.  At first I thought perhaps she was the Captain's lover (or he was trying to pursue her), but then, of course, it comes to light that she is his daughter. Apparently the wife doesn't know, but she has suspicions of something. I'm wondering if she suspects Belle is his daughter or if she thinks the Captain is attracted to her. 

Date Posted: 1/31/2013 12:43 PM ET
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I thought Belle was the captain's daughter at first too.

Date Posted: 1/31/2013 3:09 PM ET
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Cheryl, do you mean lover cuz she is the captains daughter. ... The whole background story about Lavinia and her brother is interesting. I don't wanna say too much cuz there's more to reveal, but its essential to understanding the person Lavinia becomes.
Date Posted: 1/31/2013 4:02 PM ET
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So, Genie, you're saying that the plot thickens??  LOL!

I'm also wondering about what's going on with Marshall and his tutor.  Perrhaps I'm getting a bit ahead of this thread (I can't remember if the weirdness I'm referring to happens in Chapter 5 or 6), but what's the deal?  Is there some sort of molestation going on?  Not that I expect anyone to answer that, but if you're wondering too, what do you suspect?

Date Posted: 1/31/2013 6:47 PM ET
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Yes, sorry Genie.  I meant lover...thinking one thing and typing another!

Date Posted: 1/31/2013 7:29 PM ET
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@Cheryl, LOL! ... @Shelley, you'll soon find out. Catch up, girl!
Date Posted: 1/31/2013 7:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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I think that in one way or another, we are constrained by our culture, societal pressures, etc. And, I think that is what we see in the Captain. Don't you think that he is basically a decent man - but as decent as he believes he can be given the times in which he lived? Certainly he could do more ... but, we all know how hard it is to step out, break that mold, stand alone against the onslaught of "normal, accepted behavior."

I liked the Captain, flawed though he was. And his character is full of "what if's" ... He needed to pay more attention to his wife & he needed to be more forthcoming; he needed to be more observant about how his plantation was being run and more attentive to his children. We, as outsiders looking in, can see that; but, I'm sure he rested easy every night as he lay his head on his pillow at the end of a day, job well done. 

Thus, I guess, the tragedy.

Thoughts?

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 2/1/2013 12:48 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I agree Kelly, he seemed a decent man for his time.  Certainly he treated his slaves kindly compared to other property owners in the area, but he was very hands off in the management of the actual plantation (that horrible overseer!).  I know we are viewing the family relationships through our own historical prejudice, but I can't help but wonder how things might have been had he physically been present more.  Would Martha have drunk less if she wasn't so lonely?  Would he have taken fewer trips if Martha wasn't drunk?  Lots of other examples, but I don't want to give away plot elements this early on.  You're right, this is the tragedy.

Date Posted: 2/1/2013 8:25 AM ET
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Last Edited on: 9/29/13 9:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/1/2013 1:22 PM ET
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The background story is intriguing. How imaginitive is the mind of this author! Regarding your comment about the way the house slaves spoke, could you elaborate? I don't like to miss anything. LOL. And I'm not sure I understand.



Last Edited on: 2/1/13 6:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/1/2013 6:03 PM ET
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Last Edited on: 9/29/13 9:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/4/2013 9:40 AM ET
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Maybe, maybe not.  I'm sure they'd be capable of higher language levels, but whether they'd use it, and how much of it, would probably vary significantly from person to person, depending mostly on their situation and temperament.  Situation, being the extent which others viewed it as getting out of their place.  The owners' attitudes, certainly, but also that of the other slaves or employees with whom they interacted.  And temperament, being how each individual dealt with that.

Date Posted: 2/4/2013 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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I've enjoyed the first chapters, gotten a tad confused at times though--found myself having to page back to make sure which character had related what in an earlier chapter. I'm hoping as I get further in that this becomes automatic.

I don't know about house slaves having better speech than field slaves--maybe, but in nothing I've ever read or seen has that been the case. Of course, no one might have portrayed things accurately. I, too, think the tutor is up to no good with Marshall, but I'm not having a lot of sympathy for his character. I got right away that Belle was the Captain's daughter. It intrigues me that the Captain knows her so little that he believes he is dangling her free papers in front of her when that is the last thing she wants---which got me to thinking, when one wonders as a 20-21st century white person at why more slaves did not escape or rise, that maybe most of them were scared to--and not just for the punishing reprisals, but because of the unknown---exactly what were they going to?

Date Posted: 2/4/2013 5:44 PM ET
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Very good points, Colleen ... fear of the unknown can be quite paralyzing.

 

Date Posted: 2/4/2013 6:03 PM ET
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I tots agree, Colleen. Fear about how to take care of yourself and your family, and sometimes in an unfamiliar area (in the case of runaways), had to be very real.
Date Posted: 2/6/2013 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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True.

You'd have leave behind everything and everyone you know for a region with completely different climate, economy, crops, etc.  And you go on foot for the vast majority of those miles.  Could you just pack a few things in a backpack and take out walking for Alaska?  That's probably about as apt a comparison as we could make today.  Especially as early as this book is set, before there was an underground railroad. How bad does your situation have to be, before that looks good to you?