The Thorn Birds The Thorn Birds discussion


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Would it have mattered?

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Makayla So, I read The Thorn Birds last year; but I just rewatched the miniseries and a thought came to my mind. What if Meggie had told Ralph Dane was his son? Would it have mattered or made a difference? Would he have finally left the priesthood for her; if he knew that he was a father?


J.M. Rankin Having read the book and watched the mini series also, I think it would have made a difference, and I think Ralph would have left the priesthood for her, which is why she didn't tell him. I think Meggie wanted him to come to her of his own free will, not because he felt he was bound to by duty. Maybe she was scared they still wouldn't have been enough and he would have eventually returned to the church, and I think by that point she'd had enough of saying goodbye. Plus it might have been that keeping Dane a secret was the last card she had to play.


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Swike J.M. - Forgive me for not knowing protocol, but if you leave the priesthood can you go back? I don't think that would have been a choice, I think if he left there would be no going back, at least in the time period of the novel.


message 4: by J.M. (last edited Jun 07, 2013 08:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.M. Rankin Hi Jim,
Sorry, you're right! I guess what I kind of meant was whether he would ever be truly happy away from the priesthood, and if after leaving it he wouldn't feel like returning (even if he couldn't) resulting in him resenting both Meggie and Dane for those reasons. :)


Tanya Have read this book several times, and watched the movie once a year for several years, I don't believe he would have ever left the priesthood for anything. I think he was and would have been very pleased his son followed him. Especially with the history of his mother's disdain for his own choice. My question is how could Maggie have kept her only son from joining the priesthood?


Kerry Casey HI all, I actually started watching the mini series again as of yesterday, I've been watching it since I was about 6 years old, I'm now 29 and the series and book still remain a favourite of mine (How good is Barbara Stanwick as Mary Carson in that series! woah!)

Great question to ask, Dane was a wonderful character.
What I find SO AMAZING about this book/series are the parallels between the main characters-

* Meggie treats Dane the same way as her mother treated her first son Frank. (Both treated their 'favourite child' ever so specially, - due to the fact that their favourite child was the ONLY child born out of the truest of love's they both have ever experienced..both by the unattainable men in their lives who they could not fully have. - a real heartbreaking parallel which i loved! So smart.

* I think Meggie's reasoning for hiding Dane's true paternity was 2 fold.
* She loved Ralph so much and the fact that she got the very best part of Ralph, kept her going for all the years to come, she wouldn't let Ralph have the satisfaction of knowing Dane was his son, by keeping this secret she was able to hurt Ralph in the end by announcing it- the way Ralph had hurt her all those years. Meggie becomes so much like her mother Fiona in this series, it happens so slowly, but if you keep your eye out- it will slap you right in the face how amazingly written this story is.
*2 Meggie does love and admire Ralph even though she is so hurt by him, that she knew by revealing Dane's paternity it would completly destroy Ralph's livelihood. (What a mess!)

***WOULD Father Ralph have ever left the priesthood had he known Dane was his natural born son?
I agree with TANYA above - No I really don't think he would have...

*He didn't leave the priesthood when he met 9yr old Meggie, even though she felt like a daughter to him..instead he found sly ways to 'juggle' his human desire and priesthood desire (Eg- By providing the young girl with a room next to his at school, by being the one who went and taught her how to horse ride, - by being that father figure to her that she wanted and he desired....tricky tricky father Ralph)

The dark to the light of Ralphs humanity is reflected greatly through the eyes of Mary Carson, who can see the sins of pride,greed and lust in Ralph, against his virtues.

Would He have left the priesthood for Dane? No, absolutely not, a part of me strongly believes that he always knew Dane was his, he was the best of his father embodied..and more. Dane embodied the strength, dedication and character, that Ralph so wished for all those years to have had himself.

He wouldn't have left the priesthood, he didn't for Meggie, he wouldn't for Dane, by the time Dane was grown, Ralph had already paved his way by thr choices he made.

Maybe a better question to ask would be
WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF RALPH HAS TORN UP MARY CARSONS WILL AND ALLOWED THE CLEARY'S TO PROFIT FROM HER FORTUNE? WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED THEN?


Great discussion question guys. :)


(Btw - once you leave the catholic priesthood no you can't go back, priesthood differs from that of being a reverend and so on, catholic priests are not to take wives/rear families, remembering that Ralph became Cardinal as-well,- should the church have found out his 'wrong doings' as in breaking his vows and of course having a biological son, they would have exiled him completly and stripped him of his robe and all entitlements.(Just for emphasis remember: Ralph was exiled to Drogedah for breaking the vow of obedience while only a priest, imagine the consequences that would ensue had they found out that Cardinal Ralph broke his vows of chastity, obedience, etc)


message 7: by Rae (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rae Ann Norell One of my three favorite love stories, forbidden love, love gone awry because of poor timing, love that perhaps was not meant to be. Gone with the Wind, Scarlet and Rhett could never get their timing right, which I feel was mostly Scarlet's fault, she was a spoiled brat, he was prideful and stubborn, etc. Thornbirds, forbidden love--hard to resist that plot; The Titanic (movie with DiCaprio) poor "timing", very sad because of course the young hero dies before their love gets off the ground.


Shaun Hoilett Rae wrote: "One of my three favorite love stories, forbidden love, love gone awry because of poor timing, love that perhaps was not meant to be. Gone with the Wind, Scarlet and Rhett could never get their timi..."
I agree Rae...one of my all time favorites.


message 9: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim Swike It also would have been interesting if the son found out, he adored Father Ralph, how he would have responded to his parents.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Makayla wrote: "So, I read The Thorn Birds last year; but I just rewatched the miniseries and a thought came to my mind. What if Meggie had told Ralph Dane was his son? Would it have mattered or made a difference?..."

I don't think he would have quit the priesthood, not even for his son. He was dedicated to it more than her, and that's what it all boiled down to, I think, his being in love with his calling more than her.:(


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim wrote: "It also would have been interesting if the son found out, he adored Father Ralph, how he would have responded to his parents."

Jim wrote: "It also would have been interesting if the son found out, he adored Father Ralph, how he would have responded to his parents."

Rae wrote: "One of my three favorite love stories, forbidden love, love gone awry because of poor timing, love that perhaps was not meant to be. Gone with the Wind, Scarlet and Rhett could never get their timi..."

Makayla wrote: "So, I read The Thorn Birds last year; but I just rewatched the miniseries and a thought came to my mind. What if Meggie had told Ralph Dane was his son? Would it have mattered or made a difference?..."

I don't think he would have quit the priesthood, not even for his son. He was dedicated to it more than her, and that's what it all boiled down to, I think, his being in love with his calling more than her.:(
Yes, Jim, I think he would have forgiven them and perhaps taught them some things...


Tonya You all are going to make me pick up this book again very soon. My God, what webs McCullough spun. It's been at the top of my list since I read it over almost twenty years ago. I still remember so much of it. I watched the miniseries a couple of times snd hearing the theme song every now and then gives me goosebumps. Now, on to the question - I never believed that Ralph would have left the priesthood for Meggie or Dane. I think Meggie knew it too, and as difficult of a choice for her, she left the matter alone.


Tonya Kerry wrote: "HI all, I actually started watching the mini series again as of yesterday, I've been watching it since I was about 6 years old, I'm now 29 and the series and book still remain a favourite of mine (..."

Kerry - Fiona's story about Frank swept me up into a puddle of tears.


Catherine Byrne I loved the book and the series. Forbidden love - I'm a sucker - what can I say?


Severina Catherine wrote: "I loved the book and the series. Forbidden love - I'm a sucker - what can I say?"

Yes...We think it is a forbidden love that a priest falls in love with a woman like Meggie,beautiful Meggie but a priest is a man after all and as a man he is weak..we often forget that priests are just human beings and that they can be sensitive to beauty. A great number of priests fell for women.."a love that was not meant to be"like a person wrote here,but she forgets the humanity of priests...I just believe that priests should have the choice to love a woman just like protestants.Maybe one day it will be possible..i must confess a sin my brothers and sisters..a priest was attracted by me years ago..he was into my parrish but i rejected him.I never wanted to love a priest in secret..But it's true..He was in love with me..and a seminarist was once attracted by me too..i tempted a priest..but i think this happens more than once and in many aeras in the world..lol..


Severina To conclude i am not sure that if would have mattered if Ralph knew the truth about Dane..we cannot change the story and Ralph was tormented and didn't want to leave the church anyway despite his huge love for Meggie..i think that the truth would have killed him and it killed him when Meggie revealed him the truth at the death of Dane..


Sandy IMHO, it wouldn't have mattered.
Ralph didn't leave church for Meggie, how would he leave church for Dane?


message 18: by Karen (last edited Sep 12, 2014 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karen Evans I've always thought Ralph subconsciously knew Dane was his son. He just didn't want to see it. I also think Meg didn't tell him because she had the best part of him, Dane. And she knew that would have to be enough. I do believe she resented that Ralph would even think that Dane was not his and that is one of the reasons she didn't tell him. I also don't think had he known that he would have left the church. That was his first love, even though he slipped a few times.


Sandy Karen wrote: "I've always thought Ralph subconsciously knew Dane was his son. He just didn't want to see it."

Very good point! :)


Juliene I think Ralph would have continued to choose ambition over family. The fact that Meggie waited to tell him until it would hurt him the most was brilliant.


Carolina Morales Makayla wrote: "So, I read The Thorn Birds last year; but I just rewatched the miniseries and a thought came to my mind. What if Meggie had told Ralph Dane was his son? Would it have mattered or made a difference?..."

I don't think it would have mattered. Or, perhaps, Ralph would have put even more effort as for Dane being an ecclesiastic.


Severina Sandy wrote: "Karen wrote: "I've always thought Ralph subconsciously knew Dane was his son. He just didn't want to see it."

Very good point! :)"


Sure! Exactly..Ralph subconscioulsy knew that Dane was the fruit of his passion with Meggie but he preferred to ignore this fact and follow his ambition..sad..


message 23: by Iris (last edited Oct 15, 2014 06:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Iris No Ralph wouldn't have left the church. He tells himself that after nothing can be done about it. But had he known he would have just punished himself for siring a son out of wedlock while he was a priest and shaming Meggie. He was much too proud a man to disgrace himself by leaving the church for something as common and human as a woman.


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