Silas Marner: Chapters 11-15

I was going to apologize for YET ANOTHER LATE POST but instead, I’ve decided that we should agree to pretend that I have been fighting crime at night, and/or taking care of a small child, and/or racing horses for charity. Then you’ll say, “Wow, all that AND she is only a week late on #Ravelong??? What a gal!”

I’m glad we agree on this.

It’s not even that I’m behind on reading or that I’m not enjoying it – I read this week’s chapters in two sittings and they were my favorites so far! It was just, like I said, my other careers as vigilante child-care provider horse-racer, distracting me.

One forgotten note from Chapter 10: if you, like me, were confused about the “I.H.S.” on the Bible that Dolly and Silas discuss, I looked it up for you. I’m incredibly ignorant sometimes so I can hardly laugh at Silas and Dolly for being clueless also. Plus, Greek. Latin. No one has time for that.

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Onward to chapter 11! I encourage you to go back and read the first long paragraph of this chapter – it is too delightful and precious to read only once! Nancy is a fine addition to this neighborhood of nonigans, and I love her sister Priscilla even more! Overall, this is one of my favorite chapters so far, between all of the new characters (especially ladies), the really awkward dinner (awkward meals are one of my favorite fictional tropes), and the bit where Godfrey steps on her dress and Nancy sends up a flare to her sister so that they can take care of the sartorial crisis.

Priscilla wins best quote for this chapter:

“I’ve no opinion o’ the men, Miss Gunn– I don’t know what you have. And as for fretting and stewing about what they’ll think of you from morning till night, and making your life uneasy about what they’re doing when they’re out o’ your sight–as I tell Nancy, it’s a folly no woman need be guilty of, if she’s got a good father and a good home: let her leave it to them as have got no fortin, and can’t help themselves. As I say, Mr. Have-your-own-way is the best husband, and the only one I’d ever promise to obey.”

Somehow she managed to pack a bunch of wisdom into it while also coming from a very privileged standpoint, so while I love it, I am also side-eying it.

Anyway, Nancy and Priscilla are both great and Nancy deserves WAY BETTER than Godfrey Cass.

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On to chapter 12!

Ok so I know that Godfrey’s wife is a drug addict, and when dealing with addicts you have to draw boundaries for yourself somewhere, but I feel REALLY bad for this lady.  We don’t see Godfrey make an effort to do anything for her, he doesn’t acknowledge her, he doesn’t visit his kid very much, and, I don’t know, I am just REALLY UPSET that she dies in the snow. Maybe she really is a malicious vindictive terrible person (we see some hints of this in her desire to “out” Godfrey to everyone, but seriously, who WOULDN’T want to force their husband to acknowledge their secret wife?!), but we don’t really see that on the page, whereas we DO constantly see Godfrey being a dithering, dishonest coward, so I just feel a lot of sadness for her.

“When Godfrey Cass was taking draughts of forgetfulness from the sweet presence of NAncy, willingly losing all sense of that hidden bond which at other moments galled and fretted him so as to mingle irritation with the very sunshine, Godfrey’s wife was walking with slow uncertain steps through the snow-covered Raveloe lanes, carrying her child in her arms.”

And then she dies alone in the snow because everything is terrible. How do you all feel about Molly the secret wife? Am I oversensitive? Where does Godfrey rate on the Bad Person scale? DISCUSS.

Fortunately, the kid wanders into Silas’ house, because Silas, against all odds, STILL hasn’t learned to lock his own door! I love the whole moment when the girl falls asleep by the fire, and then Silas suddenly sees her, and is like omg what:

“Gold! -his own gold – brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away!”

And then he realizes it’s a child (A SIGNIFICANT CHILD) and thinks its his sister at first, which, wow, feels! I like the way Silas’ obsession with his gold is replaced with the love of a child, but at the same time the way it is replaced in the exact same way that the gold disappeared was almost too heavy-handed for me. What do you all think? DISCUSS.

Meanwhile, back at the Red House in chapter 13, everyone is engaging in well-mannered frivolity. I don’t know what Eliot is trying to imply by calling the Cass’ house “Red,” but the Cass males sure seem to leave a lot of ruined lives in their wakes!

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This should be Nancy any time a Cass boy talks to her.

Silas manages to break up the party in the same way that he did at the Rainbow: appearing in the doorway like a specter: “It was an apparition from that hidden life which lies, like a dark by-street, behind the goodly ornamented facade that meets the sunlight and the gaze of respectable admirers;” at least, that’s how Godfrey sees it. He is not happy to see his kid there, and confused to see her with Silas, who may or may not be just a crazy old man. I love that Silas is already defensive of the girl, more so even than her “real” father – when the well-intentioned ladies try to take her from him, Silas protests: “No- no- I can’t part with it; I can’t let it go. It’s come to me- I’ve a right to keep it.” I mean, the girl is a person, not a possession, but Silas’ determination to take care of her is a stark contrast to Godfrey, the biological father who is doing his best to not let anyone know that he has the most claim to her. UGH GODFREY.

Godfrey does a great job of talking himself out of all responsibility. I mean, on the one hand I relate to the skillful way he manipulates his own psyche, sense of duty, and responsibility (I have experienced this), BUT UGH he is way too successful! He convinces himself that not only will he be better off, but so will Nancy, who probably loves him, and his kid, who clearly will be better taken care of by others. So really, he is doing everyone a favor! UGH GODFREY.

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Speaking of manipulation, Dolly has some very nice moments of that in chapter 14. I really appreciate how Dolly is introduced initially as a kind, but extremely ignorant woman, and in this chapter she shines as the person with the most knowledge on the topic Silas cares most about: childcare! This chapter as a whole was extremely adorable, but I especially loved watching her “handle” Silas so that she can give him good advice and encouragement.

In spite of Dolly’s best efforts, Silas still has no chill. “But she’ll be my little un,” said Marner, rather hastily. “She’ll be nobody else’s.” On the one hand, that’s super cute; on the other, maybe calm down, Silas, she’s a girl not a bag of gold! I’m nervous to see if he develops a healthy love for his daughter or if he gets kinda obsessed and controlling.

But yeah, super cute chapter. I love Eppie’s name – both the shortened and full versions! “Hephzibah” is too cool, and it apparently means “my delight is in her” which is very appropriate.

In chapter 15, Godfrey is still an idiot, to no one’s surprise, but he feels great about it: “He felt a reformed man, delivered from temptation; and the vision of his future life seemed to him as a promised land for which had no cause to fight.”

Yeah, okay. Although I seem to recall that the promised land required years of wandering in the desert and then years of war, but, sure, Godfrey. Sure.

What about you all? Anything I didn’t mention that you loved/hated/had thoughts on in these chapters?

Myth Monday: Percy In The Labyrinth

Previously on our Myth Mondays with Percy Jackson monsters:

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

 

Today we’re hitting up one of my favorites, The Battle of the Labyrinth. I have a thing for Labyrinths. And Ariadne. And such.

The Monsters

Empousa: These terrifying lady-vampires are either the servants or daughters of Hecate, depending on the story. Basically they seduce dudes and then drink all their blood. They are called “one-footed,” which led to them having one leg (that of a donkey) and one prosthetic leg made of brass.  In The Battle of the Labyrinth, they serve the Big Bad and sometimes take the form of cheerleaders to lure Percy into a false sense of security (or something). Sadly we don’t see them drink blood, probably because this series is Middle Grade. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Hellhounds: Hellhounds are, if you can believe it, really scary dogs from the underworld…Cerberus is the most famous one. Mrs. O’Leary is a lesser-known hellhound, but she shows up The Battle of the Labyrinth and subsequent Percy Jackson books. She attaches herself to Percy and is brave and drooly and adorable. 5/5 Monster Rating!

The Minotaur: The Minotaur is only mentioned in this book, but Percy&Co. are exploring the labyrinth which was originally designed to keep the monster half-bull half-man securee. See The Lightning Thief post for more on him.

 

Kampe: Kampe. How do I describe Kampe? She’s basically a big combination of monsters and animals – like a dragon lady with a body made out of beast heads and legs made out of vipers. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, she is working for Kronos and keeping her own little prison in the labyrinth. I wouldn’t want to face her in a fight. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

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The visual representations are insane. This one is by Ralph Horsley.

Briares: Briares is one of the Hundred-Handed Ones, giants from very early on in Greek mythology; they fight with Zeus and the gods against the Titans in the big War of the Titans. In The Battle of the Labyrinth, he’s being kept prisoner by Kampe. I really love the sub-plot with him and Tyson in this book – Tyson has always considered the Hundred-Handed Ones his heroes, but the reality is disappointing at first because Briares has been terrified into submission by Kampe (who is, admittedly, mind-meltingly scary). 3/5 Monstrous Rating because he’s secretly a Nice Guy.

Geryon: Geryon is the monstrous rancher that dreams are made of. Wait what. He has multiple heads and multiple bodies and really sounds goopy. He has a bunch of sacred red cattle that Hercules has to retrieve for his Tenth Labor. In TBoftL, Geryon also has flesh-eating horses (see below) and tells Percy he will have to clean out the stables in order to get any help from him. However, Percy winds up having to kill him anyway because Geryon is a terrible back-stabbing person. The trouble is, Percy has to kill all of his bodies at once to do so. Gross. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Eurytion: There’s a centaur in Greek mythology by this name, too, but the one in TBotL is a herdsman of Geryon. I really like that Eurytion, a sort of monstrous cowboy, is given his own hopes and dreams in the book, and is happy to help Percy once it looks like Percy might win. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Flesh-eating horses: In Greek mythology, Diomedes (one of the heroes of the Iliad) has a bunch of flesh-eating horses that he’s very proud of. Diomedes is very strong but sort of a terrible guy. Terrible guys are very common in Greek mythology. Anyway, Percy manages to befriend these horses to a point once he cleans their stable and drenches them all with water. He should have kept one as a steed, probably. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because I didn’t see them eat any flesh.

The Sphinx: Everyone knows the Sphinx, right? In mythology, the Sphinx posed a riddle to travelers and when they couldn’t answer it, murdered them. A very fun-loving guy. In TBotL, the Sphinx is guarding part of the Labyrinth, but instead of riddles it is giving travelers multiple-choice questions. I LOVE the implication that no one is being taught to think critically anymore and so the Sphinx doesn’t even bother with riddles. Annabeth, Percy’s smart friend, is very understandably upset by this change. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Telekhines/Telchines: I’m unclear on what these are, exactly, but they’re some sort of seacreature/dog/demon hybrid. They eventually piss off the gods so much that they all get murdered (possibly for practicing black magic). In TBotL, Percy comes across them a couple of times, as they’ve been recruited by Kronos. One of the most disturbing bits of this series is when Percy attacks a bunch of baby-Telekhines while they’re at school. Like…slow your monster-murdering roll, boy. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being so persistent.

Antaeus: This guy is a giant wrestler, and a son of Gaea, the Earth goddess. He’s sort of the worst. He can’t be defeated as long as he’s touching the earth, so Hercules has to lift him up into the air in order to kill him. Percy employs a similar technique when he has to fight him in a cage-match in TBotL. 2/5 Monstrous Rating for the giant Greek diaper.

Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Battle of the Labyrinth. Disney Hyperion, 2008. Print.

 

We will finish up the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series next month with the final book, The Last Olympian!

Scripture Sunday (22)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

I missed a post last week, so you get a bonus round this time!

From my reading this week:

David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

-2 Samuel 6:21-22

Why I chose it:

Ok, I know this is a classic, and it’s sort of over-used in Bible reading circles, but it is just SO. GOOD.

In my own life, it’s been especially relevant lately: sometimes there’s nothing for it but to come across as a silly fool who believes in unscientific things like a supernatural being who created everything and that a carpenter-turned-radical saved us all by dying and coming back to life. Fortunately, God values more important things than dignity.

PS Michal deserved better but that’s another post.

Bonus Round:

Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years, but he never got to see the king. Then Absalom sent for Joab to ask him to intercede for him, but Joab refused to come. Absalom sent for him a second time, but again Joab refused to come. So Absalom said to his servants, “Go and set fire to Joab’s barley field, the field next to mine.” So they set his field on fire, as Absalom had commanded.

Then Joab came to Absalom at his house and demanded, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”

-2 Samuel 14:28-31

Actual Trash Fire, Absalom son of David.

#Ravelong Odds and Ends

I keep finding interesting Silas Marner-related links and articles and then have been unable to fit them into a blog post. So below, enjoy some links!

  • You can read up on Silas’ day-job here in “British Textiles Clothe the World.” There’s lots of relevant contextual information on all of the work that went into making clothes around Silas’ time and the evolution of textile technology onward. IDK I THOUGHT IT WAS INTERESTING.
  • I enjoyed this thoughtful review of the book at The Great Unread (vague spoilers only).
  • Yesterday I posted about Silas Marner covers, and there is more cover fun to be found here at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings where they explores their library of Eliot books.
  • If you like podcasts, here’s an episode of Overdue, a podcast on the books you’ve been meaning to read, focused on Silas Marner. Spoiler warning! The podcasters are entertaining and well-organized (once they get through some chatting at the beginning).

 

 

Judge A Book: Silas Marner

I noticed that all of the Silas Marner copies I have come across are ugly, ranging from Slightly Off-putting to Dreadfully Awful. I thought surely there must be some beautiful Silas Marner covers out there, and set out to search for them.

I’m amazed by how many showed Silas as a very old man???? Isn’t he supposed to be 40 or something?

I did find some lovely Silas Marner covers, which I might share in a future post, but I found many more horrifying ones. Below are the Absolute Worst Silas Marner covers I found.

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There is so much to unpack here that I am afraid to try.
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Points for attempted artsiness, but someone needs to go back to graphic design school.
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I would refuse to remain in the same house as that man. 
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Something about this makes me think they’re fleeing the French Revolution.
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Congratulations, you’ve succeeded in making me want to put this book down and run far away.
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Maybe bring the homicidal maniac aesthetic down a few notches.
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Silas spends all of his money on LSD and we never sleep again.
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In which Silas marries a beautiful alien and becomes one of them.

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read A Book

When I pick up a book that I know nothing about, what things on the cover, blurb, or in the pages immediately draw me in and make me want to read it?

  1. Competency: I love me some competency, whether it’s at politicking, face-punching, or basket-weaving. Example: anything by Timothy Zahn
  2. Dragons: especially shape-shifting dragons! Examples: the Wings of Fire series by Tui Sutherland and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  3. Moral person thrown into court intrigue: Best when mixed with 1 and 2. Example: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  4. Beauty and the Beast retellings: I mean, I really like fairy tale retellings in general, but I’m a sucker for B&B. Example: Beauty by Robin McKinley
  5. Bodyguards: I will drop everything to read any sort of bodyguard story. Just accept it. Example: King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (although I would love that book anyway)
  6. Hate-to-love romance: Typical, I know, but they’re just always so entertaining. Example: the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
  7. Victoriana with magic: I don’t care for historical fiction, but I love adding magic to a historical era and seeing what happens – especially Victorian England or Regency England. Example: A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
  8. Complex family stories where they fight but also love and support each other: especially if romance is secondary and as long as the characters are well-drawn. Example: Sarah Dessen’s books
  9. Banter: If someone throws quotes at me from a book that make me laugh, I am very likely to pick it up to read myself. Example: anything by Sarah Rees Brennan
  10. School stories: especially if its fantasy but really any as long as it’s about making friends and following your dreams (although what’s confusing about this is that I don’t care much for Harry Potter). Example: Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Silas Marner: Chapters 6-10

How is the reading going? I’m behind on my chapter discussions! To start out, check out this neat infographic on Silas Marner. I feel like I need all the help I can get with this book.

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me, adrift

I keep wondering when the kid shows up. I’m pretty sure there is a kid in this book. At some point. A significant kid. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW?

Chapter 6 was so confusing for me, but when I re-read it for this post I enjoyed it more. It’s all the local yokels I guess, hanging out at their favorite bar, The Rainbow, and trading stories. Apparently they never get any new stories ever because they just retell all the same ones they already know, like about Nancy Lammeter’s grandfather and how he came to Raveloe and bought The Warrens and died and now haunts the stables. I really love “The Warrens” as a house name. I’d like to live in The Warrens, please.  I’d also really like to meet Nancy Lammeter in this book at some point.

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As the barflies are telling their old, worn-out stories, they finish up with the ghost story about Mr. Lammeter, and just then Silas appears at the door like a ghost. I like how Silas appears both as a ghost and as a person bearing a new story – or an old story that the Raveloe inhabitants (Raveloans?) have never paid attention to or heard before. I mean, Silas has been living there a while and they’ve never heard about where he comes from or what has happened to him. Now that Silas is the victim of a mysterious robbery, he is VERY interesting and worthy of keeping around, for his story value.

Maybe that’s a little unfair – the Raveloeans seem to feel sincerely bad for him, but they’re all fascinated by and invested in his misfortune, too.

I love the moment at the beginning of chapter 7 when the guys in The Rainbow notice Silas: “The long pipes gave a simultaneous movement, like the antennae of startled insects”. It’s a perfect visual image of surprise as the room reacts to Silas’ presence.

I was feeling pretty ambivalent toward poor Silas at this point in the book, but the part where he realizes that he is very wrong to accuse Jem with no evidence went a long way toward making me like him. I like a guy that can immediately and humbly admit he was wrong. And he’s so upset and distressed! He needs a beer and a hug.

The Raveloans immediately set to work figuring out who stole Silas’ gold, and how. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to discuss it and talk it to shreds, and the best place for doing that is at the Rainbow:

“In fact, there was a general feeling in the village, that for the clearing up of this robbery there must be a great deal done at the Rainbow, and that no man need offer his wife an excuse for going there while it was the scene of severe public duties.”

Chapter 8 is full of the incredible ways that gossip and speculation work and grow and mutate into the publicly-accepted truth of What Must Have Happened. Part of me keeps laughing at these excellent and foolish townspeople and part of me is feeling reeeeeeal bad for Silas.

Meanwhile, Godfrey is still a mess. This guy really needs to work on his spine. He has plenty to criticize about Dunstan to others:

“He couldn’t have been hurt, for he must have walked off.”

“Hurt?” said Godfrey, bitterly. “He’ll never be hurt- he’s made for hurting other people.”

But Godfrey isn’t very interested in criticizing himself. I do relate to Godfrey’s struggle to come clean to his father, though. I like the implicit parallel between Godfrey, who keeps tying himself up in knots of deceitfulness in order to make himself appear in the best light to people like Nancy and his dad; and Silas, who is intrinsically honest, if a little pathetic. Godfrey is constantly cycling through fear, guilt, anxiety, and relief, especially when he has a talk with his dad in chapter 9 and almost, but doesn’t quite, confess.

“Godfrey left the room, hardly knowing whether he were more relieved by the sense that the interview was ended without having made any change in his position, or more uneasy that he had entangled himself still further in prevarication and deceit.”

YOU ARE A MESS, GODFREY CASS.

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I have very little hope for Godfrey, but Silas is doing okay in spite of being robbed of his entire hard-earned fortune. The community thinks much better of him now that he is shown to be a normal human who can suffer loss:

“Instead of of a man who had more cunning than honest folks could come by, and, what was worse, had not the inclination to use that cunning in a neighborly way, it was now apparent that Silas had not cunning enough to keep his own.”

The Raveloans, instead of letting Silas retreat to his solitude like before, force themselves on his company, to his consternation. Their motives are partly self-righteous, partly curious, and partly kind. Mr. Macey and Mrs. Winthrop are the main do-gooders in chapter 10, and seem to enjoy lecturing Silas. But despite all of this terrifying extrovert activity directed at introvert Silas, it is probably good for him and he already seems to be opening up – he offers cake to Mrs. Winthrop kid Aaron, for example. A kid! A kid in chapter 10! I don’t think he is the significant kid, though.

Anyway, as devastated as Silas is, it sseems to be a blessing in disguise that his gold was stolen – it opens up the community to him, and shows there may be hope for him yet, now that he isn’t so focused on his gold and his work. He HAS to focus on things and people outside of himself now, right?

Right????


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