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2018 Group Reads - Archives > Mary Barton Chapters 35 - End

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message 1: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments I loved this book - I really appreciate the people who participated (and are still participating) in the discussion!! Candace


Mary Barton Chapters 35 to End

1. What happens when Jem tries to return to work? What does he ask of Mary and her future? What are some reasons why this is a good idea for both of them?

2. Why did Barton ask Carson to meet him at this house? What does Barton ask for? How did Carson react?

3. What happened that made Barton see the master and the workman as ‘brothers’? (This is another of the many beautifully written passages I’ve marked!)

4. What did you think of the pacing of the book? Same throughout? Better second half or changed in other aspects second half?)

5. What are some of your favorite passages in the novel?

6. In chapter 37, Carson asks Job and Jem to meet him at his house. He has a conversation with Jem first. Secondly, he has approximately a four page conversation with Job (in Penguin Ed. It is pp.383 - 387). What do you think this conversation adds to the book?

I ask because this is the third thing (this conversation between Carson and Job) that Gaskell’s publisher makes her change or add to the novel.

7. What do you think of the novel’s ending?

8. I asked this in a more general way earlier, but now that you have had a chance to experience it all throughout the book:
When the author intervened, did it interrupt your flow or did you appreciate whatever she had to add?

9. Early in the novel, I asked your opinion on John Barton and Mary Barton. By the 75% mark to the end of the novel, have your opinions changed about Mary? About John Barton? If so, Why?

10. Does the novel present any stereotypes?

11. What parts of the novel are relevant today? (Ex. Themes, characterization)

12. What part of Gaskell’s writing do you like the most? Was there any part you dislliked?


message 2: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
I thought the chapters where Mary was rushing to get Will were very exciting.
What I didn't like was the author's interventions. They were not necessary and spoiled the flow of the book. This is one of the reasons I rated the book 4 stars instead of the 5. The chapters after the not-guilty verdict were uneven and wordy at times.
I really liked the book, more than North and South, but not as much as Cranford, which is a different type of book altogether.

I think Jem was an excellent main character and Mary grew into her role as title character.


message 3: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Oooh, I’ll have to try Cranford. The authorial intrusions bothered me in the beginning, pulling me away from the story; however, I got used to them and enjoyed what she had to say in a lot of them.
One part that was so hilarious was when Job was telling his story of bringing Margaret home with him while she was a crying newborn. He asked a few people for help on his way home. One , I think it might have been the innkeeper’s wife, while holding the baby seemed to magically stop her crying and Job said , “I’ve got it now, it’s ........”! * he had memorized the way the wife rocked back and forth thinking there was a magic combination of moves to make the baby stop crying!!
The humor often was like that- a small piece that surprised me.
I thought Mary was the one that went through the most change in the novel. I did not like her ambition for being a lady and having more at the expense of marrying her true love . Yet, she realized what was really important in life. Of course Jem wasn’t one who couldn’t find a job and was starving. He could provide for her. She did stand by him despite him losing everything.
John was a good person in the beginning and was a good person in the end. I see him as a means of showing the story of the workers and how desperate they became.


message 4: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1818 comments Mod
I also gave it 4 stars-it really picked up for me as it went on and I ended up racing ahead to the ending.

I was worried that Carson might end up taking revenge personally on Jem, believing that he had got away with murder (as many of his coworkers appeared to think) so I was glad that he was able to learn the truth.

I think the ending-going to Canada-was likely the best outcome for Jem and Mary-they had both proven themselves hard workers, they had skills and frankly at the time they would likely do much better financially and in terms of moving up in society in the new world than they could ever do in the old.

While Esther's death was certainly melodramatic, it is likely she would have died soon from her path in life, and it gives a nice ending that she ended up reconciling, if only briefly, with her family. Having her move back with them would only have tarnished their reputations so it wasn't a realistic option for the novel.

All in all, an impressive debut novel, particularly given the circumstances-mourning a lost child-under which she wrote it.


message 5: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments Did anyone think it was melodramatic when - - Interrupted the trial just in time to save Jem? ( have forgotten his name- the sailor with the tall tales)


message 6: by Rosemarie, Moderator (last edited Aug 04, 2018 07:15PM) (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
The sailor was named Will. I thought that seen would be excellent in a movie. It may have been melodramatic, but I am sure glad that he arrived in time.


message 7: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1321 comments Mod
I was also worried Carson would try something on Jem. When Jem heard footsteps at the end of chapter 34, I was worried it was Carson, but it was only John Barton coming home.

Gaskell was a very detail-oriented writer, and I think she took great care to make the characters and situations plausible (aside from John Barton's death scene with Carson, possibly). Jem, Mary, and Mrs. Wilson moving to Canada was part of that, I think. They needed a fresh start, away from gossip, to have a happy life.

I gave it 5 stars.


message 8: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments I also gave it 5 stars. The court scene with Will did not bother me either but I also meant to bring up the ending that Lori reminded me of...I did find it a little “happy ever after” but I forgave it because they did both lose their sons and one died, and I liked the lesson of one must forgive as Carson did in order to have his sins forgiven.
And many other good things the people of Manchester believed that the reader became a part of. I will definitely read more Gaskell.


message 9: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
I am also glad that Esther found peace at the very end of her life.


message 10: by Trev (new)

Trev | 300 comments Rosemarie wrote: "The sailor was named Will. I thought that seen would be excellent in a movie. It may have been melodramatic, but I am sure glad that he arrived in time."

Living only thirty miles from Manchester ( 'over the tops' in Yorkshire') we have seen productions of Mary Barton by local theatre groups. Of course it is the drama of the events which stand out in the theatre and I am surprised it has not been made into a movie. This was my second reading of the novel (after a very long gap) and I was just as gripped as the first time right to the end.

The ending to me is a mixture of compromise and sadness, lifted by the marriage of Jem and Mary. Even they, however have to escape from the oppressive atmosphere in Manchester which pervades in the aftermath of the murder. As I was reading I felt that the author was using Jem as the conscience of the novel, particularly when he went into the fire for the second time and also when he offered to help Esther. His unwillingness to save himself in keeping quiet about John Barton raised many thoughts about how far loyalties should be taken.

Although there is a love story (maybe two) in Mary Barton it is the unnecessary deaths of Henry Carson, John Barton, Esther, and members of the starving families that resonate in my mind. It was mainly due to the conditions that prevailed at the time and the lack of understanding, compassion and mutual respect between rich and poor. We know that Elizabeth Gaskell revisits this theme of lack of understanding between workers and mill owners in 'North and South.' It must have fascinated her, probably because she lived with it within her local community for many years.


message 11: by Candace (new)

Candace (cprimackqcom) | 138 comments We didn’t discuss Jem and Mary’s attitude’s toward the police (refusal to talk or share evidence) but I thought it was interesting.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
Maybe they felt that the police were going to be unfair and didn't trust them, especially since the police tricked Jem's mother into telling them the gun was his.


message 13: by Madge UK (last edited Aug 22, 2018 12:31AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2934 comments Candace wrote: "Did anyone think it was melodramatic when - - Interrupted the trial just in time to save Jem? ( have forgotten his name- the sailor with the tall tales)"

I think we, in our comfortable times, may find such stories melodramatic but it is likely that Mrs Gaskell was writing from experience of the dreadful lives of those around her or what was told to her by her husband and friends.


message 14: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4467 comments Mod
Madge UK wrote: "Candace wrote: "Did anyone think it was melodramatic when - - Interrupted the trial just in time to save Jem? ( have forgotten his name- the sailor with the tall tales)"

I think we, in our comfort..."


I agree. I think we forget about the daily struggle of many. It still exists today. Think about the homeless population in the US. 25% of that is children


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