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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > Mary Barton Chapters 7 - 11

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message 1: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Mary Barton

Chapters 7-11

1. When does Jem decide to express his true feelings for Mary? How does Mary react?

2. Describe who Mary has decided to marry and why.

3. How do Mary and Mr. Carson communicate secretly? Why does Mary feel she needs to keep their relationship a secret?

4. What do you think about Mary? Have your feelings changed for her at different times in the story?

5. The Chartist Convention presents a petition to Parliament in 1839. What do the Chartists want ( what do the people of Manchester ask John Barton as their delegate to fight for?)

6. What happens to the Charter?

7. Job Legh tells a story about a trip he took to London. In what ways does his trip contrast with Barton’s trip?

8. When you read Bamford’s poem at the end of chapter 9, which characters do you think of? What themes do you think of?

9. What do you think of John Barton? Does he surprise you with a wide range of beliefs and actions? For example, does it seem to fit his character when he beats Mary? What about when he tells the Trades’s Union to give his assistance to his enemy, Tom D. because he has 7 children? Why was drug addiction a problem among the working class? How did society treat addicts?

10. Were you surprised with Barton’s reaction when Esther asks for help for “Mary’s sake”? Why does he react this way?

11. Do you see any cases of contrast in the novel that help to more clearly show themes, etc.?( contrast between settings, characters, circumstances)

12. Mary finally realizes her true feelings for Jem and for Mr. Carsonand decides who she wants to spend the rest of her life with. What are her true feelings? What is her plan to win Jem? What does she learn from Mr.Carson when she breaks it off with him? (What had been his intentions for Mary?) What is his plan to win Mary back? How does their society treat unmarried young men and women?


message 2: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1928 comments Mod
I am becoming more engaged in this section, though as much with the political/social situation as with the individual characters.

Mary is a complex character. She is enjoying her flirtation with Harry Carson, both because it would be a feather in her cap to get a husband so far above her in social station, and for what it could do to alleviate her family's poverty, but when she realizes what her true feelings are and what Carson's true intentions towards her were, she quickly changes her mind.

Sadly, I found the end of this section very dissatisfying. Despite the social norms of the day, I think Mary could have easily managed to find Jem the next day, tell him she'd made a mistake, and saved everyone a pack of trouble (although of course there would be no more novel to write). I become quite frustrated in novels or films when there is a huge plot development which hinges on someone not doing the obvious and sensible thing.

I was a little surprised by Barton's reaction to Esther, however it was a time where a "ruined" woman was held entirely to blame and was seen not only to have been wholly responsible for her ruin but also to have no hope of redemption. Any association with Esther would also have brought shame to Mary. It was undeniably harsh, as was the treatment of the workers who lost jobs and were then entirely unable to support themselves and would be left to starve to death or go to the workhouse. A brutal time.


message 3: by Trev (new)

Trev | 353 comments Frances wrote: "I am becoming more engaged in this section, though as much with the political/social situation as with the individual characters.

Mary is a complex character. She is enjoying her flirtation with H..."


I think it was the brutal time, combined with the belief that Esther's disappearance killed his wife, that led John Barton to react in the way he did towards Esther. He did feel guilty about his reaction afterwards but by then it was too late. Also, it was another indication that John Barton was tipping over into the bad side of his character because of all the disappointments he had recently endured.

I agree that it was unexpected that Mary should adhere to Margaret's advice about Jem, particularly when Margaret led such a sheltered unworldly life. However, with no mother, unreliable colleagues at work, and a father who was becoming increasingly distant from her, Margaret was the only person she could turn to.


message 4: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments I agree with all above , a lot of good stuff, rushing to hospital for my father in law ( does it ever end?). Later I’ll look at more closely, but want to point out that Margaret’s advice is in line with the ideals for a good Victorian girl and highlights the difference between how a girl could act - much differently than a young man, contrast with Carson’s behavior. Mary thinks she’s already embarrassed herself by talking to a man she did not court with fathers permission and not in her class- she does not want to embarrass herself even further. I mean- what a slut- right?? Uggggh!!


message 5: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4497 comments Mod
I also agree with all that’s been said. Mary is worried her reputation would be further damaged if she went after Jem so she plans accordingly to show him in other ways. Once a reputation is damaged, the woman is done for as evidenced by Esther. I’m happy she turned away from Carson. In my head I’ve been telling her no good would come of it. I think this is especially true as he is part of the nouveau rich so the family would be extremely concerned about a possible misstep such as marrying beneath their new status.


message 6: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 752 comments Wow, there was so much going on emotionally in this section! I’m glad Henry’s slip of the tongue showed Mary his true nature. And I’m glad she is finally ready to admit her feelings for Jem and hope that pride won’t keep them apart. He’s a very like-able character.

I think John seems to be going deeper & deeper into depression over the events of his life and the lot of the workers. The ruined opportunity to speak in front of parliament might be a breaking point for him... and the loss of his job as a consequence of him being away in London. This might be another reason he is so cruel to Ester, as well as the things already mentioned.


message 7: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1435 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "I become quite frustrated in novels or films when there is a huge plot development which hinges on someone not doing the obvious and sensible thing."

Same here. If her relationship with her father were different, she could have spoken to him about Jem, he would have told Jem to try again, and the whole thing would be resolved quickly. I was also worried that her being eager to accept him now could be interpreted as being due to his recent professional success.

This is a difficult to book to read. It takes awhile to get through the dialog because of the dialect. But mostly because it's so timely that it hits a little too close to home. It's a great book so far and I look forward to catching up.


message 8: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments One possibility is Mary sees keeping the truth from someone as being very different than lying. If she tells her dad about Jem, she will have to tell him why she turned Jem down the first time. We can guess how her dad would feel about her stepping out with someone before getting permission or even telling her father about it in these days. Secondly, we can also imagine how her father would feel about the person and all the ideas he might have about what a person in a higher class might want with Mary.


message 9: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4497 comments Mod
Lori wrote: "Frances wrote: "I become quite frustrated in novels or films when there is a huge plot development which hinges on someone not doing the obvious and sensible thing."

Same here. If her relationship..."


The parallels to today are eerie


message 10: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2939 comments Mod
I get the impression that Mary has had a very high opinion of herself, thus the constant refusals of Jem and the flirting with Carson. She seems very self- centred at times
But she realizes too late that she has been a fool when she chased Jem away.
I got a bad feeling at the end of the chapter when Carson said that he wasn't giving up on Mary.
John seems to share a trait with Mary. He was cruel to Esther and then regretted it, but at least he took some action. He couldn't find her, but he tried.
Is Mary just going to wait for something to bring Jem back to her?


message 11: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2939 comments Mod
The trip to London shows what the society of the time thought of factory workers--they counted for nothing!


message 12: by Trev (new)

Trev | 353 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I get the impression that Mary has had a very high opinion of herself, thus the constant refusals of Jem and the flirting with Carson. She seems very self- centred at times
But she realizes too lat..."


Elizabeth Gaskell described earlier how Mary built her 'castles in the air' mainly as a dream to escape the poverty around her (which included Jem at the time) and have a better life for her and her father. However, those castles came crashing down when she realised her true feelings for Jem and found out about the reality of Henry Carson's motives. Her flirting episodes had been an escape valve from the drudgery of her daily life, particularly as she became increasingly estranged from her father. But having rejected Carson, they have turned into something dangerous, something that could jeopardise her future relationship with Jem.


message 13: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2939 comments Mod
In her innocence, Mary felt that Carson had only marriage in mind. I had forgotten that she wanted to make life better for her father, Trev. I am glad you mentioned it. Her reaction to Carson's statment would have been doubly devastating in that case.
Carson's was part of their class until she got married and her husband got rich.
The newly rich are often the biggest snobs, especially Mrs. Carson, which may make them less eager to care about the welfare of the workers.


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