Can you believe how they’ve fucked us over, Ginny? Living and dying!”… “Don’t you realize they’ve destroyed us at every turn? (Smiley, 55)
In the few chapters we had to read this week, we learn a lot more about the characters and events in the story that were mostly glossed over in the first 40 pages. We learn more about Rose and her mastectomy and how she feels about that. She does not appear as unaffected as it was implied, and it is revealed that she has been quite worried about her health and that she has a hard time dealing with her appearance after the surgery. We also learn more about Ginny, Rose and Caroline’s elusive mother and her death. We now know that she was sick for a while and that Ginny and Rose spent 2 months looking after her leading up to her death. Jess and the mystery that surrounds him is cleared up a little bit more, and it is revealed that he had a fiance who died, and that he knows almost nothing about his mother, her illness and death. It turns out that he didn’t know she was sick and that she had died till after it had happened, and Ginny realizes that a lot of the judgement against him has been unfounded, and it shakes her a bit. At the end of the conversation, I think that Ginny realizes that there is a bit more than just a ‘friendly neighbours’ connection between them, thinking to herself “I couldn’t believe that I had ever found his smile merely charming.” I think that this scene was a stepping stone to the start of something between Ginny and Jess.
We learn more about the relationship between Rose, Ginny and Caroline. The two older girls ended up being the mother-figures for Caroline, caring for her and raising her after their mothers death. They tried to give her as normal a life as possible, giving her what they didn’t have and going against a lot of their Dad’s principles. They let her sleep over at friends, go to dances with boys, and did their best to make her clothes that matched those in popular magazines. They protected her from their father’s anger over all of this, and talkedhim into things. It seemed like they lived out their dreams through Caroline, giving her the opportunities and experiences that they wished they could have had, ending with her getting good grades, having large ambitions, and going off as they planned, not as a farmwife but as something “sharper and brighter and more promising.” (p. 64). This shows us a lot about them and how their parents affected them. Their father scared them and they didn’t want to be like him, just please him and keep him at bay, and their mother was brisk and matter-of-fact and not really affectionate. Ginny grew up opposite of both, she was motherly and affectionate and caring, almost desperate for someone to impart that on, trying again and again for children, while Rose was much more like their mother, reserved and more straight to the point. Caroline, mostly raised by her sisters, became something else entirely. She was raised to have the best chance of getting out and she did, but the lack of similarity this resulted in between her and her family made her a bit alienated. She didn’t totally fit in and it ended up with her being shunned by her dad. The more in depth look we got at their past really helps to explain how the girls turned out like they did, and clears up the reasoning behind some of their actions and personality traits.
While these few chapters answered some questions, it also created more. One of those is, what exactly is going on with the girl’s dad? First he is staring intently out at Ty in the fields, refusing to offer any explanation and doing it for hours, then he spends a thousand dollars buying a new kitchen set in response to Harold re-doing his and leaves it sitting out in the rain, ruining it and wasting money (something he doesn’t usually do), and then Rose says that he has been going out in his truck in the morning, driving to towns and cities that are pretty far away (if his purchase of a couch in a town 2hrs away is anything to go by). All of this is really odd behaviour for him, and it really makes you wonder what exactly is going on with him. Is he planning something? Is he going crazy? Another question is: what is going on with Ginny and what is going to happen with her? There seems to be something building with her and Jess, and Mary’s remarks about her mom raises some questions. Her mom was worried about what would happen to her after she died because she knew Ginny wouldn’t stand up to her father, and she hoped that she would get to go to college and go experience life outside of the farm and not marry so young. These allusions to how Ginny’s life could have been makes you wonder whether or not Ginny is really as happy as she seems to be, and if her life is really enough for her because it seems like it might not be with her vested interest in Caroline getting the chance to get out of their way of life and her growing interest in Jess and his life in Canada and Seattle.
I am really interested to see how this story will continue- will Ginny go for Jess? Will Rose and Ginny eventually leave their father and his crazy antics? How will the shift in the sisters dynamic (hatred between them in King Lear and affection in this story) effect the how the story continues and ends? What is Larry up to? Why is he acting so odd?