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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Odd Women Ch. 28,The Burden... - Ch. 29, Confession...

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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 As Monica and Virginia walk out (Ch. 28) "It happened more than once that they saw Widdowson, who walked past the house at least every other day..."

So, which is the sadder character here -- Monica, with her "you must expect nothing from me. If you keep
talking and questioning I shall go away. I don't care what becomes of me. The sooner I die the better' -- or Widdowson, who is still so intently focused on Monica even after she has left him under such circumstances.

I keep wanting to assign fault here, but there are so many faults on both sides, starting with the very thought that either of could have contemplated marriage with the other, that I wind up in an endless loop of mutual blame.


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Why blame? What is its usefulness?


message 4: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments I liked Monica most in this section as she seems to be coming into some inner strength. I feel sorry for Widowson. I don't blame either of them for the breakdown of their relationship, they were just incompatible, but perhaps in the final part of the novel they can come to some understanding and friendship, there seems to be growth and maturity on both sides. I hope for the sake of the baby that the father acknowledges it as his.


message 5: by SarahC (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments I guess I am having a hard time picturing a woman who would have been compatible with Edmund Widdowson. I guess I have to disagree with that terminology -- I feel that rather than incompatibility this is a case of him unable to find a woman who would submit to his kind of imprisonment.

I think it leaves so many questions open also when a person hires a detective to spy upon his or her partner. Has much of the "relationship" not already collapsed at that point?


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments SarahC wrote: "I guess I am having a hard time picturing a woman who would have been compatible with Edmund Widdowson."

I don't agree. Although we're not likely to find them here on Goodreads, I think there are woman who don't want to battle with life on their own, but who want to be protected and taken care of and given a home and security and children and servants and are quite willing, almost eager, to accept the subservient role and accede to whatever their husband demands as long as it isn't totally unreasonable.

And what Widdowson wanted really wasn't unreasonable. Controlling, definitely, which certainly rubs against the grain of most modern women (and virtually everyone here), but there is safety and comfort in letting another person oversee your life.

I think he had two problems here. First, he should not have become infatuated with Monica; he should have looked for a wife he could love, but not to the point of infatuation. And second, of course, should have chosen a woman who truly loved him, who wanted to be married to him. Instead, he chose a woman who barely cared for him, but only wanted the financial and social security he offered, and who developed (not sure she had it so much originally) and independent streak and a rebellious streak which I think weren't evident to Widdowson initially (and given his infatuation I'm not sure he would have cared).

But Alice or Virginia might indeed have made him quite acceptable wives if they and he had developed a fondness for each other that was on the fringes of love but not of passion.


message 7: by SarahC (last edited Sep 23, 2012 02:51PM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1424 comments But how many women would have wanted to be secluded in the house with Edmund as many hours as he chose to do so -- believing to be happiest in marriage that they only needed each other's company? There is more psychological that traditional about Edmund there. He simply wanted to lock her in his life with her. You might argue that if he had made a match with a woman more tame and willing to take the inferior role, he would not have then needed to cage her in with such vehemence. I am very skeptical though that he could have controlled his jealous impulses with any woman. I have seen women in these relationships and the relationships are damaging and eventually lead to more misery than contentment. When you give the other person control, man or woman, then what keeps it from tipping far out of balance at the whims of the one person?

I agree that women may think they want that when they are 24, but after a life with it, I don't know that they could confirm their original choice.


message 8: by Lily (last edited Sep 23, 2012 03:16PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1290 comments Everyman wrote: "But Alice or Virginia might indeed have made him quite acceptable wives if they and he had developed a fondness for each other that was on the fringes of love but not of passion...."

Interesting choices for your hypothesis. I see the logic of what you say -- but, I also wonder if you aren't touching a romantic streak in your psyche! (smile?)

While it is wonderful to have a partner that takes care of one (I was lucky enough to have that), it is quite another to not be treated as an adult. (I was blessed there, too.) That latter is the point where I get concerned about the attitude Widdowson seems to have inculcated.

I'm not sure of the chapter on this, so I'll put this in a spoiler:

(view spoiler)


message 9: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 526 comments I think I agree with Everyman that especially in his time Widdowson would have been able to find a more suitable wife. My feeling was that he chose Monica because she was young and beautiful and because she was in a bad position she would be eternally grateful to him for rescuing her from it. He acts like a foolish older man who hasn't had much experience of the world or women and expects them to conform to his expectations. BUT he does show some signs that he was willing to make concessions and if he's had a wife that was more traditionally submissive and did have true affection for him they might have been able to work out some sort of relationship together that worked for both of them.
I imagine that as courtship was so formal that marriages would be troubled generally as the couples really got to know each other before they settled into an agreeable (hopefully!) routine and companionship.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Lily wrote: "I also wonder if you aren't touching a romantic streak in your psyche! (smile?)"

Quite possibly! My wife often accuses me of having one.


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