If you haven’t checked out Suey’s blog yet, you should! She put up the final discussion questions today. There’s a linky there too so we can come read/comment on your answers to the questions!
The final Twitter chat is tomorrow at 6:00 pm MST! We hope you’ll join us! Remember to use the hashtag #NorthSouthRAL during the chat.
Also, remember that Suey, Kami, and I will be having a movie party to watch the BBC mini-series of North and South. The party will be Friday, February 6 at 6 pm MST at Suey’s house! Bring a treat to share and a couple of dollars for pizza. If you’re in Utah and you want to come, let any of us know so we can give you directions to Suey’s house. And, if you’re not in Utah, join us via Twitter using #NorthSouthRAL.
We’re glad you joined us and we hope this has been a fun experience for you. It definitely has been a fun experience for me to read North and South for the first time! I especially enjoyed the interaction I had with others as they read the book too.
Here are my answers to the questions:
1. There’s much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?
I personally felt like everyone died in this book, that no one was safe from Gaskell’s pen. I was waiting for Margaret and Mr. Thornton to die à la Romeo and Juliet at any minute. (I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but at times it really felt that way.) In order for the events to happen that did to get Margaret and Mr. Thornton together (if you can call it that), I do feel they were necessary. They humbled Margaret enough to see Mr. Thornton in a new light and get over her pride.
2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?
I was surprised that Henry thought he had a chance with Margaret again. It actually got on my nerves, especially since her newfound money came into play.
3. What are your feelings on the about-face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?
I thought that was a really interesting turn of events. I knew Margaret would inherit Mr. Bell’s money. He said so enough and I knew he had to die for Margaret to return to Milton, which she didn’t end up doing in the book. Instead, Mr. Thornton lost his fortune and came to her to get out of his lease. I didn’t think that would happen. I didn’t think the strike affected him that much. So, that was surprising.
4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?
I don’t think it would’ve bothered her so much if it had been anyone else except Mr. Thornton. Maybe, she would’ve felt bad about lying like she thought at the beginning. But, the anguish didn’t come until she knew Mr. Thornton knew about it.
5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?
I think there were three things that helped her change her mind and her feelings changed over the course of them:
- Mr. Thornton being extremely kind to her mother while she was on her deathbed;
- him taking Higgins on in his factory even though he was part of the Union that caused the strike;
- and, her lie and how she thought it changed Mr. Thornton’s opinion of her.
But, I also think she always liked Mr. Thornton; she just didn’t want to admit it because she was too proud. I think these things helped humble her more than change her mind. Otherwise, I don’t think she would’ve protected him from the riot whatever she may say she did it for.
6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?
I think they both changed each other. They both started to understand the other side of the coin better. They realized that they had to work together not against each other as witnessed by what Mr. Thornton said at the Lennoxes near the end of the book.
7. How does Mr. Thornton’s views on the master/worker relationship change? Or … did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?
Yes, see my answer to the above question. I always saw both sides of the coin. I thought they were both too stubborn to look at each other’s point-of-view. So, no my view didn’t change.
8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it’s your favorite.
I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite quote, but it hit me the most. It’s when Gaskell described Mr. Hale’s death. It’s the exact circumstances of how my mother passed away, except that my oldest sister found my mom not a servant.
“That night Mr. Hale laid his head down on the pillow on which it never more should stir with life. The servant who entered his room in the morning, received no answer to his speech; drew near the bed, and saw the calm, beautiful face lying white and cold under the ineffaceable seal of death. The attitude was exquisitely easy; there had been no pain–no struggle. The action of the heart must have ceased as he lay down.” pg. 320
9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here… that’s for a later question!)
No. It was way too abrupt. Nothing happened. I expected no kissing, but I thought they may at least get married. I know it’s implied, but still. So unsatisfying!
10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven’t yet talked about? Is there something we’ve skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say, “Yeah, but what about….?” And if you’ve got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?
I’m going to be in the minority on this one. No, I didn’t really like the book. I didn’t hate it, but I thought it was just okay. The ending was so unsatisfying that I felt I wasted my time reading it. I liked the characters and that was its one redeeming quality to me. I also enjoyed learning why people love this book so much and doing the read-along. I hope the mini-series will change my mind.