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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > Mary Barton Chapters 19-25

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message 1: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Mary Barton Chapters 19 - 25

1. What evidence did the police collect against Jem? Speak to the strength or weakness of the case.

2. How does Jem’s mother treat Mary after finding out the news of Jem being arrested?

3. Why does Esther visit her niece? How has Esther’s involvement helped Mary? How has she hurt Mary’s situation?

4. What does Mary deduce from the paper that Esther gives her? Why does Mary burn the evidence?

5. Why did Esther give a fake name? Why does she refuse to kiss Mary when she leaves?

6. Why is Margaret upset with Mary?

7. Who does Mary go to for legal advice and what does she find out? What is Mary’s plan to help Jem?

8. Why is Jem’s mom called to testify at the trial? Why does she insist on going even if her information will be harmful to his case?


message 2: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1870 comments Mod
This section has shifted the focus from the social/political angle to the very personal. We have gone from descriptions of dire poverty, of unemployment, of the need for and potential harms of striking against unfair wages to the tale of a young woman's quest to help her imprisoned lover and to support his ailing family. In contrast to the earlier sections, these chapters were told entirely from Mary's point of view.

Mary is clearly blamed by many for the entire situation, and is felt to have driven Jem to kill his rival, despite the fact that, in the entire novel, Mary has never appeared to have led Jem to assume she loved him, and in fact appeared to avoid him. By having received the attentions of a man above her station, she is seen by others as a flirt or worse, and people seem to assume that she has either lost her virtue or been on the road to the same-no one assumes that Carson would ever have married her.

I was also struck by how outspoken with each other the characters are-how harsh their words are to Mary (and at times to each other). Perhaps this is a class distinction-where in the gentry people would snub each other or be cold and distant, in Mary's world people seemed much more free to use hurtful language directly.

I am not surprised that Jane Wilson insists on going to the trial-it might be the last time she could see Jem, should he be convicted.


message 3: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
So this is where we hear about Jem and the gun. I was confused before. I suppose he must have lent it to John Barton and now he's keeping quiet about his alibi because he thinks that John will be found out if he (Jem) is found innocent.
If Mary is able to find Will and they are able to prove Jem innocent, I wonder what Carson will do. Surely he won't rest until the real murderer is found. As mentioned before, I'm not sure what to expect from Gaskell, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest.
John Barton was incredibly irresponsible with the gun (if he is, indeed, the murderer, as he appears to be). Shouldn't he have considered the fact that using Jem's gun and leaving it lying in the field would result in his being suspected? I wonder what he's doing and if the news of Jem's imprisonment has made its way to Glasgow. I can't imaging he would allow Jem to be hanged for his crime. I don't remember when he was due to come home.


message 4: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1870 comments Mod
I wonder if the whole "science of detection" was not so well known at the time and people were much less aware of the need to cover their traces. Otherwise you're right it seems incredibly careless of Barton.


message 5: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Barton does not seem to be thinking very clearly at all after the murder. We have the chapter showing him wandering aimlessly ( I jumped to conclusion that he was the murderer based on this chapter and it immediately follows the lottery and Barton’s statements. He is not eating which would certainly make me do strange, uncharacteristic things. Who knows why he threw it- maybe he is thinking ( because we know he is repentant later) that if he throws out any evidence immediately it will be as if he did not commit a crime. A child’s way of thinking, but what does not eating for so many days do to your mind?


message 6: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments We know the police superintendent is probably thinking of Mr. Carson’s desire to find who did it immediately, and remember HE (Carson) is a rich man. I’m sure the police did not make a lot of money back then. I would also be worried of what a man like that would do to my career if I did not find someone soon even if I did not care about making extra money. I certainly would not want to lose my position or job over it.
Unfortunately , the police lied and used deceit to get Jem’s Mother to admit the gun belonged to Jem. As long as the info is freely given, the police can still do that today ( in the US).


message 7: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
How do we know John is repentant later?


message 8: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Again, I’m just interpreting his actions immediately after.


message 9: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2892 comments Mod
I see a new side of Mary in this section, a strong new Mary who is a fitting heroine of a novel.
I am glad that she asked for advice from Job instead of doing it all on her own.

The police certainly behaved in a shabby way with Mrs. Wilson, which I doubt they would have done with some one from a higher class. They took advantage of her ignorance.

I know it looks bad, but I don't think John killed Carson either. Just a feeling.


message 10: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I know it looks bad, but I don't think John killed Carson either. Just a feeling."

I'm inclined to believe that John killed him. But there's a strong argument otherwise too. John's strange behavior could be explained by his knowledge that someone is probably about to be killed, even if he doesn't know who the murderer is (and maybe not even the murderee--not sure if that was set). It was kind of his idea, so he might have that on his conscience even if he didn't draw the marked paper. And if he borrowed the gun from Jem (from Jem's behavior, I think he assumes John had the gun), someone could have taken it from him, along with any paper they found lying around to fill it.


message 11: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4487 comments Mod
Just one thing to add re the gun being tossed. If the murderer is one of the men from the meeting, it makes sense that he would just toss the gun without thinking. After all, he had been given a task for which his disposition was ill equipped. It could have been done simply because the murderer was in a form of shock.


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