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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > Discussion ?'s 5 quarters of the Orange *possible spoilers*

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message 1: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
I'm just posting some of the questions I have found. I am still reading it so these arent my origninal questions. Feel free to branch off of them.

1. Framboise's mother loved all fruit -- except for oranges, which gave her migraines. Young Framboise exploited this to her advantage. Discuss Framboise's motivations. Was she cruel, or just acting on the impulses that often drive adolescents to commit cruel acts?

2. How did you feel about the children's involvement with Tomas? Were they morally deficient? Do you think that the author judged the children's actions anywhere in the narrative? Discuss how the presence -- or lack -- of judgement affected the tone of the novel.

3. How is the title, Five Quarters of the Orange, manifested in the structure of the novel?

4. What do you think Old Mother symbolized? When Framboise finally caught Old Mother, what did she lose?

5. Why do you think Framboise returned to Les Laveuses? Was there a part of her that wanted the truth revealed?

6. "Food was her nostalgia, her celebration, its nurture and preparation the sole outlet for her creativity" (pg 4). Framboise said this about her mother's relationship with food. Discuss the many different roles food plays in Framboise's life.

7. How did you feel about the mixture of love and animosity that Framboise and Mirabelle feel for each other? And what about the relationship between Framboise and her own daughter? What do you think the novel says about mothers and daughters in general?

message 2: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
I'm about 60 pages shy of being done with this book. My first impressions were that it made me want to cook delicious homemade things. Just how my mind works.

About half way through the book I realized that these kids were cruel! Maybe not intentionally or with malice but their actions or the consequence there of were cruel. I'm not sure if the author was going after the natural man is a sinner sort of angle with it but the children were definatly not the sweet innocent children often portrayed. Actually the youngest perhaps the cruelest. I don't think the author judged their actions but I think she was clear about them.

I think Boise in many ways was just like her mother and became so much more like her in her later years. Do all daughters do that? I can not count the times I have barked at my kids and heard my own mothers voice. The voice I swore I would never use with my kids yet in my worst moments there it is. (not that I didnt adopt some of her good habits too but the point remains)

Cass kept saying that she was her mothers favorite yet there was so much tension between them. Is that how it is with our children that we see most like us? Maybe there is a desire to lead them away from being the worst parts of ourselves and by doing so they take on just those qualities. I don't know that Boise was necessarily her favorite but I do think she understood her the best and saw more of herself in her.

I really love the use of food in this story. I love the relation of herself to a pit fruit with a hard core in the middle. The smells and tiny bits of recipes that come through in the story help so much to lead the story back to that time. It's incredible to me how often we associate food and smells with memories. I think the author was so clever to use that as a tool in her book and somehow make the reader remember with her through those senses not able to be experienced with words on pages yet somehow it comes through.

message 3: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
okay so I couldnt stop with just 60 pages like I thought. I finished it up. I was surprised to find myself a little emotional at the end.
All in all a good book. I liked the little mystery of the story. I wished there had been some more development of Boise and her relationship with her daughters. I could totally see this being made into a movie or atleast a made for TV movie.

message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments I'm still only about half way through, but a friend of mine mentioned something similar to what you said, Tera. She basically said that you don't necessarily care about the characters, but there is something moving about the story itself.

message 5: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
okay all of us are reading/read this book and im the only one with thoughts on it?! cmon get the comment box open and let it rip!

message 6: by Amanda (last edited Feb 28, 2008 09:11AM) (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments I'm scared to read your thoughts before I finish! :) I will say that when I read the "present day" stuff, and Boise starts talking about how she's turning into her mother, I want to die inside. Will it happen to me? Or will I turn into my father? Both? And I know I want to be a mom one day, but good grief, I surely do NOT want any kids to have to grow up with a head full of my neuroses. I don't like Boise very much, but I feel sorry for her...

message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy | 11 comments I'll weigh in...

1. I think children are all a little cruel by nature. Think of how prevelent teasing and bullying are (and have always been). They are also selfish by nature. (as all humans are to some extent). Framboise found her mother to be cruel, esp. during her "bad spells". However, she also knew that her mother would withdraw during these spells, so to achieve her selfish goals she retaliated cruelties. Additionally, I think Framboise felt that her mother singled her out for cruelty and favored the others, so she felt justified in her actions.

2. The children gravitated to Tomas because he made each of them feel important and special, playing to each of their needs. The brother needed to feel powerful and grownup, the sister desirable and pretty, and Framboise needed to someone to see her as worthy of time and attention. I could not tell if Tomas's character was one of those people who just naturally draws people in and genuinely likes people (I believe he was) or if he was using them all (which I don't think was the case). Considering the complexities of the time, I don't know that the children were old enough to really comprehend consequences of their actions. I do think there was a tone of judgment in the narration, as I feel the story was retold from Framboise's perspective years later. I think with the benefit of hindsight, she sees that their actions caused a horrible sequence of events, and so you feel the foreshadowing of it as you read. However, I think the children had no malicious intents at the time, they only sought the excitement and attention it all brought.

3. I think the structure was reminiscent of how she divided the orange.

4. Old Mother symbolized the adventure and innocence of youth. She lost both of these when she caught old mother.

5. She went back to because the same things that drew her mother there drew her. She wanted to go back home again, in many ways. To see if it was different for someone without her past. and of course it was to some extent because our past makes us who we are. I also think she wanted her story revealed so she could face it all, but she was afraid to finally commit to it, so she goes back and hopes (I think) that someone will recognize her.

6. For Framboise, I think food is and was her comfort and her curse. Her passion and her prison. She loves the acceptance and joy her cooking brings her from others, but it ties her so finally to her mother and to the woman she is afraid of becoming (and then becomes). She uses food to seduce, to cripple, to nurture and to sustain...both herself and those around her.

7. I see so many friends with great relationships with their mothers, so I don't think it has to be this way. But for me, this relationship speaks true. There are parts of my mother I hold in great regard and parts I hold in disdain. Unfortunately, I rarely acknowledge the similarities between us that are positive, and I live in fear of fulfilling the ones that aren't. I think this is universal...not just between mothers and daughters, but women in general (may in all human kind...but I don't see it as often in men). Women tend to relate themselves to negative traits of others, but not the positive ones.

Well that is my two cents. I agree with the poster who said the story is moving but you don't necessarily LIKE any of the characters. All in all it was a good read and I enjoyed it.

message 8: by Joanne (new)

Joanne | 91 comments I think at first young Framboise was not intentionally cruel to her mother; she needed some freedom from home so she devised a way of obtaining it. She didn't seem to have any regrets about hurting her mother, but simply saw it as a means to her ends. However, after she had sickened her mother many times, then she began to bring on the migraines even when she didn't need to leave the farm. I think she felt very powerful when she did this, maybe the only times she felt she had any control over her life.

I was wondering about the "spells" that her mother had before some of her migraines. I am referring to when she would fall unconscious for some period of time, or other times she would stop speaking in mid-sentence and stare into space for 30 seconds, then resume right where she left off. To me, they sound like "absence" seizures. Does anyone have an opinion?

message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments I've been thinking about this "fruit with the hard pit" imagery. Now, I don't remember which woman described herself as this--Boise or her mother--but, regardless, I think the imagery is wrong. As it turns out, neither woman had a hard pit in the center. They were actually hard-shelled with soft middles! Both of these women so desperately wanted to be perceived as tough, unfeeling, bitches, but the fact of the matter is that the tough exterior is just a front. Amazing how many people do that in life. We probably all do, to some extent.

I wonder what their world would have been like if they had opposite personalities--what if Boise and her mother were more like Reinette. I'd be willing to bet that disaster would have struck anyway...

message 10: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
Amanda you totally got me thinking with the hard pit imagery and i think you are SO write. Inside she wasnt hard she wanted everyone to think she was but neither of these women were inside. I'm so glad you brought this up because it was a point I totally agree with but totally missed.

Joanne I was wondering about the spells too. I dont know enough about seizures but I sure wish she would have told us later on what was the cause of them.
I also really wish she would have told us about Reinette and what became of her other than up on a hospital with demensia. Why? how? did she get over being raped? so many questions there.

Jwave thank YOU. I tried thinking about that dumb old pike and what it represented and you totally nailed it. For some reason I didnt make the connection but thank you for making it for me. Seems so obvious now. I guess i had a hard time equating a fish and childhood together.

message 11: by Paige (new)

Paige Anderson | 30 comments 4. Old Mother symbolized the adventure and innocence of youth. She lost both of these when she caught old mother.

I would have said it just a little differently. It appears that Old Mother is the dream/fantasy/hope for the future that, once realized, isn't what we expected. Catching her marks the end of Boise's childhood, somewhat like finding out that Santa Claus isn't real does.

The maxim, "Be careful what you wish for" seems awefully apropos when thinking about Old Mother.

BTW, for those who have read Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, does Old Mother remind you any of Addy's dead body in the casket?

message 12: by Judy (new)

Judy | 11 comments Paige:

I agree that Old Mother is a fine example of "be careful what you wish for". I think that what you describe in the dream/fantasy/hope category (with Santa) IS loss of innocence for me. The dreams you dream BEFORE life experience jades you into pessimism. After that season, she never really expected things to work out right, never thought again that if you believe hard enough anything is possible.

message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments Now that we've all had a few days to process (I finished on Sat), how are you feeling about the book? As I'm coming down from my "I just finished my book" high, I'm realizing that I didn't really absorb what happened from after the dance until the end of the book.

I don't think I liked that book! Hmmm... Yet, I'm still thinking about it.

message 14: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
I didnt love it but i didnt hate it. I was more 'into' it as I read it but now im feeling pretty indifferent about it. I like how you say the "i just finished my book high" I do the same thing and should really learn to not rate a book until 3 days after I have finished it. I inevitably go back and change things later after I have had time to really let it settle in me.

message 15: by Robin (new)

Robin Swanson | 9 comments I must do that too. The weekend that I read it, I liked the story well enough, not necessarily the characters. Except Paul, what wasn't to like about Paul? The world needs more of his kind.

As time has went on, and I have thought back on it, the things that are missing bother me more. What was Reinette's life like? What kind of relationship did Boise really have with her daughters, and why? I didn't see where Boise suffered from migraines, so were her difficulties with her own daughters personality problems resulting from her upbringing?

Maybe it just bothered me that so much of these kind of things are only alluded to, and maybe I don't read enough fiction to appreciate this, it just frustrates me instead!

message 16: by Judy (new)

Judy | 11 comments I was going to say I liked Paul too, but it was Paul that wrote the phrases on the house, which eventually caused the descent on the house and fire.

I think that each character had some part in the tragedy that unfolded. Each felt they were the main cause. To an extent it shows the narcissism that is in each of us.

Of course, Boise's relationships with her daughters results from her upbringing, how could it not? I am not sure that Boise's mother would have raised them much different if she had not had migraines. Even though she was worse (and then removed) when she had a "spell", she was no picnic when she was well.

I still think I liked the book, though I do not "like" any of the characters. It was a moving story, and the writing was solid, with good imagery and flow. Will it be an "all time" favorite? NO. Am I glad I read it? yes.

message 17: by Paige (new)

Paige Anderson | 30 comments I liked parts of the book, but there were many areas that, to me, needed additional detail:

-what happened to Reine that caused her mental breakdown? From lines here and there, it's clear that she didn't collapse immediately after the rape, if it really WAS a consumated rape.

-Boise's background with her nephew and his wife--and her own brother after they left the village. It seems that there is very little contact among them, so why would they think it possible to get family recipes from her or to blackmail her into giving up the diary?

-What happened to the mother and the kids after they left the village. I know that the children went to different family members, but what about the mother?

-What happened between Boise and her own daughters? Why is there such distance between them? As JWave mentions, Boise tries to parallel her relationship with her daughters with her mother's relationship with Boise---yet the situation is entirely different.

As I was reading, sometimes I was blasting along, trying to figure out what would come next--that's a good thing for me. But, since I found most of the characters so difficult to like, at other times, I'd drop the book because I didn't want to know any more. For example, yes, children can be cruel; Boise's intentionally giving her mother migraines, though, is just disgusting to me. It reads as a fundamental flaw in her personality.

message 18: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2564 comments Mod
BTT for more discussion

message 19: by April (new)

April (contusions96) I did not like this book much at all. It was an interesting read and kept me entertained on the plane but I intensely disliked all of the characters. I didn't understand why they did what they did and could not relate to them at all. Also, what happened at the dance? I believe Reine was raped but it was so ambiguous that I didn't really know or care.

message 20: by Amanda (last edited May 08, 2008 06:19AM) (new)

Amanda (randymandy) | 467 comments I don't think we're supposed to "KNOW" what happened to Reine, but yes, I think most likely she was raped. The thing about it is, their entire lives were based in misunderstanding, in mistrust, and in misinformation. Not really knowing for sure what happened to Reine is part and parcel of what made up these peoples lives. Sucks, huh.

I may have mentioned this already, but I have a few friends who dabble in playwrighting. They have challenged each other to write a play where the protagonist is a character that you don't really like. It has been a daunting task for the both of them--maybe I should recommend 5 Quarters to give them some ideas??? ha ha

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