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Far From the Madding Crowd
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2015 > Far From the Madding Crowd: Capters 1 - 13

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message 1: by Marie (last edited Aug 05, 2015 05:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
I shall do one thing in this life—one thing certain—that is, love you, and long for you, and keep wanting you till I die

Farmer Gabriel Oak's well-ordered life is turned upside down by the arrival of Bathsheba Everdeen to her aunt's small, neighboring farm. Though at first only intrigued by her presence, he finds himself watching for her and hoping to run into her. When she pulls him unconscious from a small, smoke filled room, he realizes his feelings for her and, fearing her approaching departure, he proposes to her.

And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be—and whenever I look up there will be you.

Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can't show off in that way by herself, I shan't marry—at least yet.

I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent; and you would never be able to, I know.

Then I'll ask you no more.


A tragic accident results in the loss of Gabriel's flock and only source of income. While searching for employment, he helps to extinguish a rapidly spreading fire at a local estate. He finds himself hired as a shepherd - and due to the death of her uncle, Bathsheba the estate's new owner.

Bathsheba did not speak, and he mechanically repeated in an abashed and sad voice, "Do you want a shepherd, ma'am?”

Bathsheba's serving girl Fanny disappears, following her fiancé to his knew post. And Bathsheba becomes more aware of a local gentleman, a farmer named Boldwood, who no girl has been able to catch. Annoyed at his seeming disinterest in her, she sends him a valentine.

• What are your impressions of Gabriel and Bathsheba so far.

• What stands out to you about the story thus far? Feel free to discuss away...


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 127 comments I felt just horrible about Oak's loss. I was involved in a buddy read of this book last month. I remarked there that I thought that GO showed great fortitude to "carry on" in the face of utter ruin--a catastrophe of colossal proportions--and that I learned in school when the U.S. Stock market crashed in 1929, some of the people who lost everything in the crash, Ended their lives.

I also wondered at at BE chasing GO down to assure him after her aunt told him she had lots of lovers--to chase him down to tell him this was not true, but no, she will not marry him!


Sara (phantomswife) Bathsheba is a very interesting and unusual girl. She is fearless (the horse riding incident and going into the hut to save Gabriel both show a kind of innate bravery) and quite unconventional (as evidenced by her willingness to chase him down and tell him her feelings regarding the proposal). You cannot help thinking there is more to her than the pretty face that attracts everyone at first glance.

The tragic loss of the flock gives us a glimpse of the strength of character of Oak. He not only moves forward from that tragedy, but he does not seem to resent or blame God or fate for what has befallen him. He appears to have a selfless regard for others (one of his first thoughts is that Bathsheba was better off for her choice since he would now be poverty stricken and jumping into the fire to help when he doesn't even know whose land it is). He has the correct temperament for a shepherd, a caring person is needed to tend a flock.

I like Andrea's observation regarding the similarity between Oak and the victims of the stock market crash. If you have ever stood on the edge of disaster and watched everything you work for go down the tubes, you will know that moving forward is the hardest part. Sitting down and withering seems easier somehow.

The sub-plot with Fanny has piqued my interests, although it is too early to see where this is leading and how it will impact the other players.


Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
description

My babies...

I have always really liked Gabriel. He shows such great strength of character throughout the book, both in his circumstances and with Bathsheba. And real caring in thinking of what's best for others (Bathsheba) without concern for himself or his own feelings.

A great many people took their lives during both the Long Depression and the Great Depression. But look at how many stories there are of people who have committed suicide in our recent economic problems, even with the opportunities we claim to have. It must be a horrifying place to find oneself in.

Bathsheba is an interesting character. She has her own brand of bravery, such as rescuing Gabriel, or running a farm at a time when it was difficult for a women not already born to a position of privilege to be involved in business. But so many of her actions are exasperating - like running after Gabriel. She craves the flattery of men's attention, even when she has no interest in them and without consideration of their feelings. I always felt she was more drawn to Gabriel than she cared to let herself admit.

Sara, Fanny gets interesting...


Sara (phantomswife) Marie wrote: "

My babies...

I have always really liked Gabriel. He shows such great strength of character throughout the book, both in his circumstances and with Bathsheba. And real caring in thinking of what..."


That is the same impression I have taken away of Gabriel and Bathsheba. I also sense that Bathsheba is attracted to Gabriel, but I think she has an independent streak that makes her feel an aversion to tying herself to anyone. We'll see if that bears out.

As to the suicide issue, I think the more money-based the society becomes the more likely people are to commit suicide over financial troubles. It would be terrible to lose everything, but in a society that puts more value on faith and family and community, people might feel less alone and less inclined to see financial ruin as the end. Gabriel has the confidence of knowing that he is a skilled worker, and the respect of the men in the community. His poverty doesn't set him apart. Most of the men are in his same situation. His attempt to climb the ladder of success has failed, but no one seems to think less of him for that failure. I wonder how much of a part humiliation plays in today's financial suicides.

BTW, I LOVE your babies.


message 6: by Marie (last edited Aug 06, 2015 09:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "Marie wrote: "

My babies...

I have always really liked Gabriel. He shows such great strength of character throughout the book, both in his circumstances and with Bathsheba. And real caring in th..."


Aren't they precious! I wish I actually could claim them, but alas no. I know people with a small farm, they have the sheep and a couple of miniature donkeys. So cute! I wouldn't mind one of those tiny goats my self, but I fully admit I could never handle more than a hobby farm.

I really agree with how heavy a role humiliation plays in financial crises for people today, far more so than it did historically, where the humiliation aspect was more confined to the upper classes. But it's terrible to see how little the desperation for employment has changed for many in society still today as well.


Sara (phantomswife) Marie wrote: "Sara wrote: "Marie wrote: "

My babies...

I have always really liked Gabriel. He shows such great strength of character throughout the book, both in his circumstances and with Bathsheba. And real..."

I'm with you on the animals. I always want one of everything, but I do realize a real farm (with all the work involved) would be beyond me.

I so agree that it is terrible to see so many people who want to work and cannot find gainful employment. It is very hard out here in the rural areas, where jobs were fewer in the beginning and so many depend upon small business which are failing at an alarming rate.


QNPoohBear | 470 comments Sheep!! I love the sheep. It broke my heart when they died and I felt even worse for the dog. That disturbed me so much I had to stop reading.

I really liked Oak already at this point. He's kind to animals and that always tells. He's interested in Bathsheba but not in an obsessive, annoying way. He's quiet and steadfast. However, he should have spoken up that he met Fanny on the road. She's traveling all alone and that will not go well.

Bathsheba ummm at this point she's young and I wasn't sure what to make of her. She's headstrong and rushes into things more than she's brave. She did rescue Oak which is very nice of her. The verdict was still out at this point. Later though I have a strong opinion about her!


Sara (phantomswife) QNPoohBear wrote: "Sheep!! I love the sheep. It broke my heart when they died and I felt even worse for the dog. That disturbed me so much I had to stop reading.

I really liked Oak already at this point. He's kind t..."

Yes, the loss of the sheep and the killing of the dog were difficult to read. I do think both would have been viewed differently in Hardy's time than we view them today. If you have read Jude, the vivid description of the hog killing was difficult, but if that was what you had to do to live, you would have a less sentimental view of animals in general.


QNPoohBear | 470 comments I read Jude way back in college but I don't remember it. I do know that he's a farmer and his livelihood depends on those animals but it did upset me. Maybe if I hadn't read it right before going to sleep I wouldn't have been so upset.


Marie Williams | 713 comments Mod
The animal scenes in Thomas Hardy's books are always difficult to read. I always have to remind myself that things were/are different in farming, especially at that time period.

Jude is my favorite of Hardy's novels, and even after reading it twice, the hog scene is still difficult.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 127 comments Sara wrote:
"His attempt to climb the ladder of success has failed, but no one seems to think less of him for that failure. I wonder how much of a part humiliation plays in today's financial suicides."


Sara I disagree with your statement that no one thinks less of GO for the failure of his business. He went to the job fair--forgot what they called it in the book--and tries to get hired as a bailiff. All of the people seeking bailiffs when asked where he had formerly been employed--what farm he had worked for, they couldn't get away from him fast enough when he said the last farm he worked for was his own.

He was "lucky" BE took him on as her shepherd. Otherwise he may have been unemployable.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 127 comments Marie wrote: "

My babies...

I have always really liked Gabriel. He shows such great strength of character throughout the book, both in his circumstances and with Bathsheba. And real caring in thinking of what..."


Your "babies" are just darling!


message 14: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (phantomswife) Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "All of the people seeking bailiffs when asked where he had formerly been employed--what farm he had worked for, they couldn't get away from him fast enough when he said the last farm he worked for was his own...."
You are right. I was thinking more of the attitude of the people with whom he is working and the community at Weatherbury. Hardy does say that when he is seeking the bailiff position everyone is seeking shepherds and when he goes and converts to a shepherd they only want bailiffs. That does reek of avoidance.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 127 comments Sara, I agree that the Weatherbury community and BEs other farm hands did not think less of him. But if BE hadn't hired him--the people looking for farm workers at that Fair steered clear of him.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 531 comments Marie wrote: "

My babies...

I have always really liked Gabriel. He shows such great strength of character throughout the book, both in his circumstances and with Bathsheba. And real caring in thinking of what..."


Oh, your lovely babies are so fluffy I wanna die! How cuute!


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