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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Odd Women Ch. 25,The Fate... - Ch. 27, The Reascent

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message 1: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Please discuss this portion of the story here.

message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments I am appalled by Everard's conduct in Chapter 26. Well, no, not his conduct specifically -- I think his view was fair enough to say that he wasn't going to to explain why Monica came to his apartment unknown to him. But his thoughts on Rhoda, specifically:

He rejoiced that his strength of will had thus far asserted itself. Of final farewell to Rhoda he had no thought whatever. Her curiosity would, of course, compel her to see Monica; one way or another she would learn that he was blameless. His part was to keep aloof from her, and to wait for her inevitable submission....

Certain it was that she must be suffering intensely—and that certainly rejoiced him. The keener her suffering the sooner her submission. Oh, but the submission should be perfect! He had seen her in many moods, but not yet in the anguish of broken pride. She must shed tears before him, declare her spirit worn and subjugated by torment of jealousy and fear.

This is what loving somebody means to him? Reveling, delighting in their emotional torment? Celebrating the hope of their anguish of broken pride?


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments I didn't take it as seriously as you have, Eman. I don't deny you're "right." But I took the whole back and forth sequence of open marriage versus marriage vows, believing versus not believing more as a dramatic spoof of two (young?) strong wills in love trying to figure out the boundaries by which they could live mutually. Also, as a contrast of two wills formed by somewhat different social and familial backgrounds.

message 4: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments Great point, Everyman. Well, you kind of change your own statement about being I am not appalled at all.

Do these two characters really know what they want? I wonder if they either one of them have love --or do they have the possibility of love?

I also see this as kind of realistic -- in my time, I have heard very similar words from couples (both sides) who are at a standoff. Of course they know that one or the other is shedding tears, that is part of the play. And they do want the other to break down to an extent and and submit something.

It is a "tug of war," although ideally at the point that a permanent relationship has been proposed, we would hope this wouldn't take place. Don't you think, in reality, it takes place pretty often though?

Do you think his view is any more harsh than Rhoda's? Rhoda doesn't know what she really wants either, but she is willing to drive him through her way of operating life without leveling with him on much of anything I think. She is still carrying that FACADE with him.

Something else relevant I found in my re-read:

Chap 13, a quote from Rhoda to Everard on an earlier issue: "I don't easily forgive any one who charges me with falsehood." Comments anyone?

What did you think of Everard giving her the ring, and her reaction to it?

message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments SarahC wrote: "What did you think of Everard giving her the ring, and her reaction to it?

Ah, yes, the ring. Trying to figure out what it meant causes nothing but turmoil in the mind.

Obviously he had planned it, had taken the trouble to buy the ring, so had some thought in his own mind about what it meant to him and what he thought it wold mean to her, but I really don't understand either of those things.

It seems not to be a proposal of marriage; I don't think at that point he was intending to propose legal marriage; it's only after her reaction that he suggest that they could slip off to the registrar.

Did he expect her to be grateful for it? If so, he misunderstood her badly.

Did he think it would make her happier to go off with him if she could put on the pretense of being properly married? That without a ring it would be just a tawdry affair, but with it it would represent a moral commitment?

Did she see the ring as him pushing too fast, thinking he had sold her on the idea when she was still not ready?

Only some of the quandary issues I mull.

message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Well, the way I read it, they really put themselves at cross purposes here, whereas if they hadn't let their egos, pride, desire for one-upmanship, and their personal insecurities get in the way, they were really on the same page of the music. That's why it came across as comic opera buffoonery to me.

Now that I think about it, is Gissing using any characters to demonstrate the positive power of romantic love (as opposed to agape caring) in this story? The M's, as Eman suggests. Others? And some of this question probably can't really be addressed until the last segment. (But my head is thinking about Major Pettigrew's Last Stand or the contrasts of the families in Anna Karenina or any of a number of other novels with a streak of romance in them.)

message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments I've wondered about Mrs. Cosgrove's views in Chapter 27: Seriously, I believe if a few men and women in prominent position would contract marriage of the free kind, without priest or lawyer, open and defiantly, they would do more benefit to their kind than in any other possible way.

I wonder whether Gissing had George Eliot at least partly in mind. The Odd Women was written in 1893. Granted, Eliot had been dead by then for 13 years, but she is considered to have been a significant influence on him, and of course she spent many years of her later life living with [forget his first name] Lewes out of wedlock (since he was legally married to a wife he had given up the chance to divorce), living openly in literary society. Is this passage a reflection of approval, or even a defense of, Eliot? Or am I just straining the passage way out of reasonability?

message 8: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments SarahC wrote: "Something else relevant I found in my re-read:

Chap 13, a quote from Rhoda to Everard on an earlier issue: "I don't easily forgive any one who charges me with falsehood." Comments anyone?

Thanks, Sarah, that is an interesting quote to put into the mix. It makes her seem hypocritical in her reaction which goes against the strictness of her whole moral position.
My impressions was that after the perfect day neither of them seemed very happy at the thought of getting married. They appeared to have idolised each other and not actually want the reality, with Barfoot thinking she was just an ordinary woman after all for failing his test, and Rhoda worrying what she will do as a married woman after the travelling part of their relationship has ended. I thought the argument came at a time to alleviate their cold feet and gave Barfoot an excuse to return to London. I'm not sure if Barfoot does love Rhoda or if he just wants the power of conquering her. Like poor Monica with Beavis where he appeared to be more motivated by lust and not actually wanting an extra person to be responsible for.
I have no idea how this can end happily, at the moment I think Rhoda would be better off staying single and doing her work with the sense of moral superiority she seems to enjoy and maybe Barfoot marrying one of the sisters who want to be his wife.

message 9: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments Everyman wrote: "I wonder whether Gissing had George Eliot at least partly in mind.

I have no idea what Gissing thought of Eliot, but like you, Everyman, I've been thinking of her rather unconventional love life which took place earlier than the setting of the novel with its modern female liberators.

message 10: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments The romantic side of me wants the Everard - Rhoda relationship to work, if either or both of them would get off his/her high horse and need to be right. But, then, don't we all want to be "right"?

It seems to me that each has strengths that could fuel the other.

message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Lily wrote: "The romantic side of me wants the Everard - Rhoda relationship to work, if either or both of them would get off his/her high horse and need to be right. ."

Does you romantic side want them to go off and live together out of wedlock, or to go ahead and get married traditionally?

message 12: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Everyman wrote: "Does you romantic side want them to go off and live together out of wedlock, or to go ahead and get married traditionally? ..."

Well, bless their foolish souls, it seems that each of them wants the other to agree to living together in what we today would call a significant other arrangement, but once they have called each other on their openness and liberality, underneath they each seem to want a conventional marriage! Which is what perplexes me about the two and makes me wish they would get off their high horses and make a life together.

Although I am traditional enough to support the advantages and values of marriage, I have lived long enough and seen enough successful (and unsuccessful) examples of both, that I am willing to leave the choice to the individuals involved. (That would have been far harder, if at all, for me to say X years ago.)

message 13: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments At first I thought it seemed that each had much to offer the other, and they probably did have it, but had no idea how to give it -- sounds very much like you folks are saying too.

Then though, my mind changed in Chap 30.

And I never figured out how I felt about the ring either. I think it was the traditional symbol of commitment, because he did want a commitment --however, Rhoda did not react well to it. But I really have no clear view on the real thinking of either of them on this ring.

message 14: by Becky (new)

Becky | 170 comments I'm glad that wasn't the only one left puzzling over the ring and their whole trip to the country together. I honestly felt as conflicted as the characters appeared in these chapters. In the end I think that they're both slightly selfish people. Everard seems to want an emotional commitment, without the physical necessity of supporting a wife. Rhoda living out of wedlock with a man might have to eat some of her own words regarding other "fallen" women. IN the end Everard is correct when he says that regardless of their marriage, they cannot be happy together if Rhoda doen't trust his word and his honor. I think that may be one of the only things he gets right, because then purposely writig that letter to Ms. B to annoy Rhoda, and Rhoda making such ultimatums, just doesn't seem as though they are in any sort of love.

Was anyone else disappointed with Rhoda in this section. Evermany talked about his disappointment with Everard, but I felt that Rhoda acted a bit like a twit as well. She sat on her high horse because Everard had been previously embroiled in a scandal, so she automatically assumed he was involved with monica. Then she flies into a jealous storm (not quite a rage, but a bit of a downpour). On top of that, for all her "rebellious" preaching, she flipflops on marriage. For a book about women I feel that Gissing put both our protagonists into unfavorable lights. At times I feel that they come off a bit petty, though I suppose these would have all been very serious matters in Victorian England.

message 15: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments Becky wrote: "Was anyone else disappointed with Rhoda in this section.."

I think it was realistic and believable writing for both these characters who aren't romantic and were each playing some sort of ego game. It was very revealing and I thought showed how awkward and scared they were at the prospect of marrying each other.
Often the central pairings in novels, especially of this era, are quite young, so I appreciated seeing a couple in their thirties dealing with courtship.
Rhoda is wrestling between her whole life philosophy and her attraction for this rakish man. Everard doesn't show much regret that he got that woman pregnant, and instead preens his own sense of being hard done that his reputation suffered. And Rhoda is here in the situation where she has to bet all her future happiness on him.
I thought it addressed what is really at stake for Rhoda and the way it confuses and scares her makes her more sympathetic to me than when she is claiming the moral high ground in earlier parts of the novel.

message 16: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments For me, Rhoda, in her summer tryst with Everard, became a sexually aware, passionate woman rather than a chaste, celibate, austere disciplinarian teacher and leader. (Perhaps "as well as" would be a better choice of words than "rather than.") I was truly sad that their pride and egos got in the way of their attraction. Was it love yet? Not so sure about that. But strong attraction, I'd say "yes." (I'm not sure I ever entirely sorted out who wanted what in terms of unconventionality and conventionality and in what sequence, although that may have been important to the failure of trust to develop. It seemed more just to become a conflict and confusion of wills. And I won't even call it as being so honest and clear cut as a battle for control. It became muddled misunderstandings and expectations and wounded prides that just ended with them moving in separate directions. (view spoiler)

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