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Sir Gibbie (Sir Gibbie, #1)
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Dec Group Read: Sir Gibbie > Chapter 1 and 2

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Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Today is the first day of our group read! There are 62 very short chapters to the book, so my goal is for us to read two chapters a day. I will try to post new questions as often as possible. If you are ahead or behind, no worries! Just answer the question when you get there. Happy Reading!

First Question for chapters 1 and 2 (spoilers):

The first two chapters are character sketches of Gibbie and his father. Can a man be called "good" who is described as a drunk who neglects his son? Don't we judge goodness by action? Does George MacDonald's sympathetic portrayal of Gibbie's father ring true?

I loved the descriptions of these characters which is very different from the way modern novels open with action, but I am having to ponder the complex nature of Gibbie's father. What makes a man "good"? Is he "good" just because he doesn't beg for his booze and doesn't hit his son? Yet they are both starving and in rags. In physiology, the neglect of a child can be as emotionally damaging as physical abuse, especially neglect that has stunned that child's growth to the point that an eight-year-old looks like a six-year-old. I find it hard to sympathize with Gibbie's father at all. What do you think?


message 2: by Steve (last edited Dec 01, 2018 08:42PM) (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Yes, I really enjoyed the leisurely yet richly portrayed opening. A memorable statement for me was that Gibbie lived "in the holy carelessness of the eternal now". What a fantastic description!

Regarding Gibbie's father, I felt Macdonald was at pains to show that there can be good even in those who are outwardly total social outcasts—and to enlist a little sympathy for the constant struggle such people suffer between their good and their evil desires. I imagine in the Victorian society that Macdonald grew up in there was a lot of stern self-righteousness about, and maybe he's trying to counterbalance that with some compassion.

Also, it made sense to me that he tried to point out the faint remnants of good in Gibbie's father, in order to provide a source, however degraded now, for Gibbie's own innate goodness.

Anyway, I guess at this point I'm willing to suspend judgment on Gibbie's father. What you say about the negative effects in real life of that kind of neglect of a child is true, I know; but I'd like to think the father will reach some degree of redemption as the story progresses. We'll have to wait and see!


Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "but I'd like to think the father will somehow reach some degree of redemption as the story progresses. We'll have to wait and see!"

Having read George MacDonald, he may do just that. We'll see. I have been very slowly making my way through a massive collection of his sermons, and he strongly believes that all will be saved eventually whether in purgatory or in the present life through an ironing out of their character through the work of God over time. He is a very compassionate sort of person who sees the good in most everyone. I know so little about this book that I am already tempted to read the whole thing as fast as possible to find out!


message 4: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "I know so little about this book that I am already tempted to read the whole thing as fast as possible to find out!"

I'm with you there! But I hope reading it slowly and steadily will build anticipation and make those developments all the more satisfying when they happen.


C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Wow! I'm so far behind already. I was selling books at a craft bazaar today. I'll have to do some reading tonight. I appreciate the insightful comments so far.


Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
C.S. wrote: "Wow! I'm so far behind already. I was selling books at a craft bazaar today. I'll have to do some reading tonight. I appreciate the insightful comments so far."

They are really short chapters. No worries! You'll catch up in an hour. I hope you had some good book sales :)


C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Yes! The bazaar was good! And ... finished first two chapters. I read this several times in the past and it's amazing how much is coming back to me! Still love Gibbie!


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