Flight Behavior Flight Behavior discussion


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Ending

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Jennifer I am dying to talk about the ending of this book with someone. Specifically the last few pages.


Alan Stuart The rising flood was a breath-taking finale I thought. It reinforced for me the message of a world tipping towards disaster and that we were all standing on shaky ground where one more misstep could end everything. Those pages rescued the book as far as I was concerned.


Andrea I agree with Alan. The ending worked for me on a literal level (the flood, and the impact climate change can have on individuals and their communities)but also metaphorically; Dellarobia had decided to leave that life and that house just in time. My hope would be that her decisions "grounded" her future.


Jennifer Agree with everything both of you said, glad I am not the only one who loved it! It was stunning. I re-read the last few pages several times. I think what struck me most, besides the unanswered questions of who survived and how (love that Kingsolver leaves it up to the reader to play the rest out in their own mind), was how meaningless so many of the characters' struggles were in the end. Marital strife, financial trouble, the run down house, the farm, all washed away. Really drove home the point that most people spend so much time worrying about things they think are important, but keep their blinders on when it comes to climate change. But it is going to catch up to us sooner or later, and nothing else will even exist. Love Andrea's "grounding" metaphor.


Andrea Thinking more about it, the ending seemed kind of incongruous with what was described just previously. It was almost dreamlike. I wonder if Dellarobia was imagining it happening, just as it really happened for the Mexican immigrant family? Regardless, still *very* powerful, and you're right about the stuff that seems to matter, vs. what really matters. I've realized so much recently what can change in just a generation.


Kath I thought the novel was structured in a way that makes the reader realize that all the things we do without considering the future have grave consequences. From the personal (smoking, sex) to the global (climate change). This theme makes the flood at the end a very fitting way to end the novel. It's easy to see how we've failed to correct our path towards climate change when we realize it's human nature to make a mistake and stay the course in much smaller ways (such as Dellarobia's unplanned pregnancy and unhappy marriage). Like Jennifer said above, all the small changes Dellarobia made in her life won't matter unless we make the most important changes with respect to the environment.


Roxanne The issues were all interconnected in the end. Which I think was a central theme. We are all connected and our existence is connected to even the smallest of the small. But she illustrates this theme throughout the book. To me, this book has a clear deeper level of meaning that can easily be overlooked. The sense of intimacy with the family, and the sense of seeing the world from "nature's" grand position. I could go on and on.


message 8: by Redd (new)

Redd Kaiman I mean, I thought it was a little preachy with the symbolism, but the ending was enjoyable.

Check out my webcomic, updates every Thursday: http://reddkaiman.blogspot.com/2013/0...


Mary I liked the book a lot and agree about it exploring the 'inter-connectedness' of things. I loved the characters and how they interacted with the bigger climate change theme. The use of the flood I thought was ok and probably designed to mean all the range of meanings that readers have ascribed. That bit of the story reminded me of Lawrence's 'Rainbow' and Steinbeck's 'Grapes of Wrath', both great novels, and this made it a bit tired as a metaphor, for me at any rate.


message 10: by Shari (new)

Shari Did she die at the end? I couldn't figure out the ending.


Carrie P Not physically, no, but there is a kind of rebirth in that she has finally decided to fly from her old way of life & get out from the rut she was stuck in to start the next chapter in her book of behavior :)


Theresa Nash The ending of the book has had me thinking about for 3 days now. Was this a metaphorical ending or a literal ending. If it was metaphorical, then I am inclined to believe it was her suicide. If literal the approach of the End. Any opions or help is appreciated.


Carrie P Even though she would have thrown it all away recklessly if she had gone through with the affair in the beginning (then we wouldn't even have had a story), I find it hard to believe she would have left her beloved children by committing suicide. She was too much of a fighter.


message 14: by Loraine (last edited Feb 14, 2013 07:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Loraine Well, the lands under the Great Ark didn't have many survivors . . . and that mountain had become as an ark for a sick planet. I thought the ending a somber one, as the flood waters rushed down into the valley, destroying all in their path. She and her child may have been beyond the reach of those waters, high and dry. Prodigal Summer held out much more hope than Flight Behavior--Mother Earth ain't gonna take much of our species' dithering around.


message 15: by Bkates (new)

Bkates I too thought the ending was cryptic, and possibly, meant to be interpreted by the reader. This frustrated me. I wanted to hear Kingsolver's version of what really happened, and so this seemed abrupt. Was it, in fact, that Great Flood that really swallowed us all? If so, I would have liked to have seen Dellarobia react accordingly, like a real, frightened person - not like the "too cool to be realistic" character that Kingsolver unfortunately made her to be. She struck me as a construct of Kingsolver's imagination (which is, I admit, her right as the author!) but meant to satisfy the educated liberal sensibility that fits the profile of most of her readers. She rang hollow at some times for me, for this reason. I can't imagine that this flood, if it were catastrophic, would not be reason to really panic! However, maybe it was just a big ugly flood. It was hard to tell what was in Dellarobia's imagination.
One aspect of this book that I have not seen mentioned, that I liked and thought was unique -was the forgiveness and tenderness with which Dellarobia regarded Cub, despite his shortcomings. Kingsolver portrays him as a loving and devoted father, and as someone who tries his best to respect and work with his wife, to the best of his ability. Their final scene together, saving the lamb and then, embracing and weeping together - rang true to me and moved me to tears.


message 16: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy Only disappointing part of a wonderful book...too fanciful - not in a good way...


LindaJ^ I loved the book as a whole but was less than enamoured by the ending. I would have been happier with it ending after she told her son the news. I choose to believe that no one died in this floor -- that Dellarobia and Cub's house was at the low spot and that's why it washed away. I liken the flood to one of those flash floods in the desert - devastating but over quick. It would be too cruel for anyone in the family to be wiped out just when they were communicating and moving forward.


Loraine Although the ending hits like a thunderbolt, the possibility of a cataclysmic event is seeded throughout the telling of the story. Other families have been so hard-pressed for cash that they've sold their mountain top woodlots, knowing that the land would be clear cut. Cub even earns his keep clearing local roads loaded down with boulders and earth deposited by flash floods, as a result of those clear cuts. Ovid Byron warns that once ecosystems begin fraying, unpredictable changes can lead to dreadful consequences. The weather proved ominous throughout this wonderful, and (for me)profoundly sad, book. We humans are so sure our own little lives are the be-all end-all to living on this planet. But Dellabia and her sweet children are part of a greater tapestry . . . we can only hope that it isn't so frayed that they will have a chance to contribute to a better future.


message 19: by Mary (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mary Judy wrote: "Only disappointing part of a wonderful book...too fanciful - not in a good way..."

I agree Judy, 'fanciful' is exactly the right word for it.


Randi I wasn't thrilled with the end. It felt rushed to me. I was more interested in her marriage and ambitions, and the flood was too metaphorical, out of sync with the rest of the book.


message 21: by Zorro (last edited Mar 24, 2013 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zorro Loraine wrote: "Although the ending hits like a thunderbolt, the possibility of a cataclysmic event is seeded throughout the telling of the story. Other families have been so hard-pressed for cash that they've so..."

Flooding in Mexico at the overwintering sites of the monarch butterfly occurred in 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twlZzJ...

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=...

Clearly Kingsolver is mirroring this flooding in this story.

Also flooding and landslides in eastern Tennessee are common occurrences. https://www.google.com/search?q=lands...

and

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/parknews/land...


Carolyn I felt like the end bookended the story - the beginning, with the coming of the monarchs was also described as some sort of fantastical and cataclysmic event, and it was only later that we discovered what it really was. The coming of the monarchs did change things drastically, though. In the ending, Dellarobia is heading on to a new life, and the change feels cataclysmic, and Kingsolver's use of the flood was highly symbolic (cleansing, washing away the sins of the past, baptism, etc.) I didn't take the ending literally, but I did like Kingsolver's ambiguity, for sure.


Amanda Corbin I felt the ending was nicely done. It has literal and metaphoric significance; the two married perfectly. Dellarobia had looked at that house as a prison throughout the book, ulimately she walks away from it, gets above it, and then it's washed away. In a literal sense it is the effect of the crazy weather brought about by climate change. In spite of their denial, people will be affected by it. The book left me feeling somber because there is no happy ending, things are bleak, and yet we (and Dellarobia) still have our children's futures to think about.


Marianne Amanda wrote: "I felt the ending was nicely done. It has literal and metaphoric significance; the two married perfectly. Dellarobia had looked at that house as a prison throughout the book, ulimately she walks aw..."

beautifully put


Mandy I thought the ending, like much else in the book, was a bit too heavy-handed for me. I didn't need the literal flood washing away her old life to show me how she'd grown and changed. I felt that Kingsolver had a Message and she was determined that, no matter what, the reader would understand what she wanted to say.


message 26: by Matt (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt Mandy wrote: I felt that Kingsolver had a Message and she was determined that, no matter what, the reader would understand what she wanted to say."

Exactly. This was sort of like saying, "Hey, stupids, this is what this book is about, in case you totally missed the pretty obvious symbolism in the prior 400 pages."

The flood also set up a lot of dissonance between the environmental themes and the personal ones to me. The book spent a lot of time concentrating on the effects of climate change (understandably) and talking about how we were marching toward ecology-wide destruction because of it (again, understandably). After all that, having a flood brought on by climate change and environmental degradation be used to symbolize this wonderful change and rebirth in Dellarobia's life was a little disingenuous.


Susan I thought that the end of the book was perfect. We always think of disasters as occurring somewhere else. But at some point it is going to happen to us. Dellarobia had huge decisions to make in her personal life, but these are all inconsequential when the BIG DISASTER comes. I liked that Kingsolver left the end ambiguous. We don't know Dellarobia's fate any more than we know our own fates.


Sheila I loved the ending. It showed that nothing is stable or sure in this world. Her reaction to the flood made me think of the opening sentence. She's in shock, she doesn't know what to do, but at the same time she's feeling that rapture as she watches everything float away.

I really loved this part: "The shards of a wrecked generation had rested alive like a heartbeat in trees, snow-covered, charged with resistance. Now the sun blinked open on a long impossible time, and here was the exodus. They would gather on other fields and risk other odds, probably no better or worse than hers."

To me, that shows there's still some hope left.


Susan Sheila wrote: "I loved the ending. It showed that nothing is stable or sure in this world. Her reaction to the flood made me think of the opening sentence. She's in shock, she doesn't know what to do, but at the ..."

I agree, Sheila


message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol F Jennifer wrote: "I am dying to talk about the ending of this book with someone. Specifically the last few pages."

Jennifer: I was confused but think she did go to school and the last page and a half was a dream. Several parts of the book were confusing. I even found it difficult to get into the book. Carol


message 31: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Bass I think Kingsolver leaves it open to the reader. Is it a dream? A metaphor? A biblical reference? Reality? Whatever it is, it brings together the scales of human and planetary events, the interplay of which is clearly a key theme of the book. In the end, Dellarobia is on her own to find higher ground, as are we all.


message 32: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate The ending was a surprise, yet what one would expect from Kingsolver. Everything was getting neatly tied up with Dellarobia's plans to start a new life, get an education, leave her boring life on the impoverished farm etc. She matured throughout the novel and stopped dreaming about a better life. She made Preston understand that change will happen and must be accepted.

The happy ending is more in keeping with comedies where all the problems are sorted and everybody lives happily ever after. But this is a tragic story and there is no closure, no happy ending. Dellarobia climbing to high ground to escape the flood but we don't know if she survived. In the end she is alone watching nature change the landscape. All that Bear and Hester represent is getting washed away. I think we are supposed to reflect on the ending. It is not a happy ending!

A wonderful novel, great characters. I loved Preston and Cordie and they are the future. But a grim message for us all.


message 33: by Katie (new)

Katie There were many references to the "fire and the flood" and "end times" throughout the book. It was therefore fitting that the book opened with the fire ("lake of fire") and ended with the flood. A nice bookend that, to me, signaled the end of times on many levels: the end of the ecosystem as we know it, of Dellarobia's life as a Turnbow, and of being able to deny climate change's looming catastrophic impact - and of course, the end of the book itself.

The ending was heavy-handed, for sure, but drove home the fact that problems like climate change - that often feel big and removed - can come crashing down on our personal worlds in ways big and small. The book built up to how the macro informs the micro (and vice versa), and ended with a perfect demonstration of that fact.


Susan Katie wrote: "There were many references to the "fire and the flood" and "end times" throughout the book. It was therefore fitting that the book opened with the fire ("lake of fire") and ended with the flood. A ..."

I agree. While reading the book, everyone accepts the sad story of the Mexican family who lost their home, saying, "How sad." But when it happens to an American, they said, "Oh, it must have been a dream."


message 35: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate Maybe we should ask Kingsolver to give us a sequel as we want to know what happened to Dellarobia!


Robin I agree with Kate, Kingsolver should give us a sequel. Dellarobia is a fine heroine.


message 37: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Bow As a non-American, I loved the book's portrayal, through Dellarobia's mind, of why Americans believe the nonsense dished out by your media. It's because they feel they know the radio voice, and therefore trust as true whatever he says! This is Very Scary!


Robin Jane, America is very scary since we are supposed to be fairy well educated yet believe a lot of bunk about a lot of issues. I think it is intellectual laziness and our hostile political climate. Kingsolver has made a very good case for climate issues in this book.


message 39: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Bow I totally agree about the climate theme, Robin, but wonder if Kingsolver hasn't also done America a great service by pointing to the laziness you mention as part of the underlying problem. Up here in Canada a kind of blind/deaf/dumb complacency about the environment has more and more people buying huge gas guzzling pick-up trucks they can't afford. And nobody is saying anything about it!


Robin Jane, the laziness is everywhere. But the latest hurricane just blew past North Caroline in JUNE! If nothing else, Mother Nature will beat them into submission. Wall Street is now talking climate change. Once money talks...well, I am sure you are aware. Good luck in Canada, it is one of my favorite places.


message 41: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Bow Thanks Robin.Good luck to you too! I place great faith in Mother Nature's effect on Wall St. She's ruthless, but hey, whatever it takes to contain human greed/blindness. I am a novelist with a new book, so will be driving through the U.S. in Sept. after some book gigs in western Canada. Am really looking forward to getting off the big highways to visit small town Canada going west and small town America coming east. Who are we all in 2014? Maybe I'll find reasons to hope? If so, will record them on my blog www.janebow.com


Robin Jane wrote: "Thanks Robin.Good luck to you too! I place great faith in Mother Nature's effect on Wall St. She's ruthless, but hey, whatever it takes to contain human greed/blindness. I am a novelist with a new..."

Jane, I will check out your blog. Good luck on your tour!


message 43: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Bow Thanks Robin. Happy reading!


Murrill Roxanne wrote: "The issues were all interconnected in the end. Which I think was a central theme. We are all connected and our existence is connected to even the smallest of the small. But she illustrates this the..."

I agree. Kingsolver introduces characters in stark contrast: There are the haves and the have-nots; the curious and the resigned; the enlightened and not. Throughout the story she exposes their authentic natures, stripped of titles and addresses, to reveal that they are more alike than different. It is not just an environmental SOS that the monarchs landed where they should not have; it is a metaphor for Dellarobia, who is also out of place, who will die if she does not leave. Succinctly put: We are one. The laws of nature apply equally to human beings and to the environment. I could read this book several more times and find symbolism, imagery, and metaphor that I missed on the first read. As for the ending, I choose to believe that Dellarobia rose above her situation and found a new life.


message 45: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate Robin wrote: "Jane, America is very scary since we are supposed to be fairy well educated yet believe a lot of bunk about a lot of issues. I think it is intellectual laziness and our hostile political climate...."

I know it's a typo but I love the "fairy well" educated. What does one learn down in the fairy's well? :-)


message 46: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Bow Maybe that's the problem, no one listens to the wisdoms dispensed down the fairy well!


Susan I think being "fairy well" educated is a cross between home schooling and Hogwarts.


message 48: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Bow Love your take on the book, Murrill -- connection between Dellarobia's and the Monarchs' situations -- and agree that this book is rich with levels of meaning. As for D's future, given her courage and clarity of vision, she will find her way. Will she find a love partner? Only the "fairy well" knows!:-D


Robin Kate wrote: "Robin wrote: "Jane, America is very scary since we are supposed to be fairy well educated yet believe a lot of bunk about a lot of issues. I think it is intellectual laziness and our hostile poli..."

I suppose that I should proof a bit better. Ha Ha. "Fairy Well" means some of us are living in lala land.


Susan I turned off the TV two years ago, and now I live in lalaland. It is very pleasant.


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