Monday, August 13, 2012

North and South, Discussion #2

Hey folks! Today is the second round of our North and South discussion. On the agenda today: chapters 15-27. As usual I'm behind, but I wanted you all to be able to link up. Add a link to your post below and feel free to comment in the comments section. I'll be back later today with the announcement of our first prize winners and with my own North and South ramblings. Until then, link up!

1. What do you think of Margaret aiding her mother in keeping Mrs. Hale's illness from her father?

2. Margaret describes Mr. Thornton has her first "specimen" to "study." How is Margaret using Mr. Thornton as a "study" and how does using him as such affect her opinion of him?

3. Last week, Heather touched on Margaret's lack of tact. What do you think of her tact? How is it lacking? Or would you argue that it isn't lacking at all?

4. Anything else you want to discuss?

Edited to add my comments! 

OK, so I am still seriously behind. Not as badly as I was last week, but I'll be reading your posts with caution because I love Thorton and I'm not into the huge spoilers. lol

My biggest observation to this point is the commentary on class. More specifically, the commentary BETWEEN classes. I've read my share of British literature in college and on my own time, so of course I'm way familiar with these general issues. They're glanced over in Austen, Dickens deals with them in often brutal ways, but Gaskell's commentary is really enlightening and gives a different view. I'm even thinking back over contemporary historical fiction that examines class (Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger for one), and I've never felt like I experienced the yearning and the tension between the classes quite as much as I do in this book. Or the hard headedness for lack of a better expression. The slight spin, the entitlement involved from all sides. The lack of compromise. Reading Mrs. Thornton's take on class vs her son. Throw Margaret into the mix along with Higgins, and you've got pretty much every point of view represented.

When I was reading last night, I was particularly struck by the scene in which Margaret and her father repay Mrs. Thornton in Chapter 15. They're lead into a drawing room full of fine things, but every surface is covered and cared for in a way that hides the splendor. This is ridiculous to Margaret, but it resonated so much with me! The Thortons have risen up to inhabit this new middle-ground of merchants between the gentry and the poor workers. They have nice things and some power thrown in, but they've worked their asses off for it. Reminds me a bit of my grandparents -- products of a Great Depression mentality who had a nice home and land but who were farmers, lived by the laws of frugality, and washed and saved their sandwich bags (just one example).

Gaskell is just getting cooler and cooler and cleverer and cleverer as I read! Looking forward to how this theme and others develop as we go. :)

FINALLY, the prizes!!! Christina from Reading Thru the Night is the lucky winner of an "In My Book" bookmark/greeting card AND an e-book of her choosing from

We'll be giving away another card and e-book every week of our readalong, so make sure and link up your posts!

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