North & South discussion

Mary Barton group read > Chapters 21-25

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message 1: by Trudy (last edited Oct 08, 2016 10:26AM) (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
For discussion of chapters 21-25.

Poor Mary! With Esther's discovery of evidence, Mary now finds herself in an almost impossible position: proving Jem innocent without revealing the true guilty party -- her own father!

Does she do the right thing under the circumstances? Would the reader do differently if they were put in the same position?

And now Mary is on a mission to get Will to testify as an alibi. And she wants to be involved in all the active steps to accomplish this mission. I think as modern readers it may be easy to forget how decisively bold her plan is. Dealing with the contingencies of law and justice would traditionally be a man's job. And here is a young woman, daring to go out and do everything necessary to exonerate the man she loves.

I found it very interesting to compare this part of the storyline with N&S. Once again a young woman is responsible for saving the man's life/livelihood. Margaret Hale saves Thornton from losing the mill - his lifework. Mary must save Jem from hanging.

But in this story it is a woman who must save a man from a court trial. Mary has a much more dire task to accomplish than Margaret Hale.

message 2: by Emilia (new)

Emilia Barnes | 20 comments This is where the story really took off for me. It started to become interesting with Henry's murder, of course, but when Mary gets actively involved we can see the journey her character makes, and she finally comes into her own, and shows some strength and resolve.

There is some similarity here with Margaret, in that both girls are shown the error of their ways, and have to repent and make things right after their pride had got them in so much trouble. That being said, Mary has to do much more, and puts herself into much more personal peril to do it.

message 3: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
Yes, Mary is roused to action and is resolved to make things right. She can't fail, or Jem will die!

On another subject, I was struck by how irredeemable Esther feels as a prostitute. Although it seems self-imposed, the culture of the era is truly harsh on women who have fallen into prostitution. The stigma seems to really be permanent. Esther even recoils from Mary's attempted kiss. She doesn't want Mary to contaminate herself! It's very sad.

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