Miss MacIntosh, My Darling discussion

Reading Miss MacIntosh > 9 -- What terrible deed was this... (166)

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message 1: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 95 comments chapter 9 page 166

message 2: by Ce Ce (last edited Mar 22, 2014 11:33AM) (new)

Ce Ce (cecebe) | 104 comments Chapter 9 regained the "liquescence" Miriam Fuchs spoke of...

We return to Miss MacIntosh...

"Everything had to be as it had been in What Cheer, Iowa, where Miss MacIntosh was born and had spent her unprivileged childhood as she constantly reminded me. Cheerful, I supposed she had been in What Cheer, and always skipping a rope, and always playing hide and seek with her brothers and sisters or racing them in the wind, she being the youngest of a large Christian family - for I simply persisted in my refusal to acknowledge the possibility that her childhood had not been a happy one." MMMD, HBJ, pp 166-167

"...What Cheer, Iowa, an average small town where there were no flamingoes, no palm trees, no pearl divers." p 170

Out of curiosity I checked to see if there is a small town in Iowa with such an odd name as "What Cheer". There is.

"What Cheer is the hometown of the title character in Marguerite Young's enormous novel Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (1965). In a 1993 interview, Young claimed to have been unaware that What Cheer was genuine."[44]

44.Fuchs, Miriam (2003). "Interview with Marguerite Young". The Review of Contemporary Fiction. XXIII (1): 131. This is ironic, because Young was noted for confounding the fantastic with the real, in real life and in her fiction."


I find myself, again, wondering how reliable our author is. What Cheer such an unusual name for a town and she located it so clearly in Iowa. Hard to accept as coincidence.

Again I return to that sense of Outsider Artist...and profound eccentricity.

message 3: by Ce Ce (new)

Ce Ce (cecebe) | 104 comments "Meanwhile, as I was being trained for early marriage, for settling down with some suitable husband in an uncomplex life, that which would have no space for the dilatory, the tardy, the slow, I would have to do the smallest pieces of Miss MacIntosh's personal laundry..."

Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.......She looks well to the ways of her household. Proverbs 31:10-27

- innumerable large white handkerchiefs embroidered with the initials of her first name only, the G which stood for Georgia..." MMMD, HBJ, p 170

Georgia: tiller of the soil; farmer

"I was always looking for Miss MacIntosh's embroidery hoops, which would roll under the bed as if they were trying to get away from her....it often seemed strange to me that a woman of so much energy should have wasted her life embroidering tea towels and pillow cases with the initial of her first name, the G which stood for Georgia, and why did she never add M, the initial of her last name?" p 171

Did Miss MacIntosh carry a dashed dream, or hope, in her heart after all? A woman would have filled her hope chest with linens, embroidering only her first initial...not knowing what her surname would be upon marriage.

message 4: by Nathan "N.R." (new)

Nathan "N.R." Gaddis (nathannrgaddis) | 95 comments Ce Ce wrote: "Out of curiosity I checked to see if there is a small town in Iowa with such an odd name as "What Cheer". There is. "

*face palm* It's like less than an hour from where I did some of my growing up. Probably played basketball against them for I can remember.

message 5: by Ce Ce (last edited Mar 22, 2014 11:37AM) (new)

Ce Ce (cecebe) | 104 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "*face palm* It's like less than an hour from where I did some of my growing up. Probably played basketball against them for I can remember."

You were in Iowa? I think Illinois is a few hours away. I am from Minnesota.

Apparently What Cheer's claim to fame these days is that a huge flea market is held there 3 times a year...a weekend in May, August & October.

I am intrigued that "Miss Mac" has captured the stoicism & stubbornness of Midwesterners while simultaneously exposing the strong streak of quirkiness that often hums just under that tough skin. There are the actual oddities that dot the landscape as well as the political rantings (and otherwise) + the alcoholism of Moses the bus driver, the demented ghostly Doc who has an indefatigable work ethic, the trapped and suspicious Madge, Homer the faded high school football player...and our still mysterious Miss MacIntosh. The raging storm the bus is traveling through...so reminiscent of the actual violent weather of the plains but also allegorical.

message 6: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 39 comments It does sound unlikely that she made up the name What Cheer and located it so coincidentally in Iowa, Ce Ce. That, plus all the odd landmarks from the earlier chapters which you identified for us, makes it seem like she had a particular route, a particular destination in mind.

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