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2020/21 Group Reads - Archives > The Last Man - Week 4 (Vol II - Chapters VI - IX)

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
The Last Man - Week 4 (Vol II - Chapters VI - IX)

After the last week's read where so much happened, we went back into Lionel's head with musings and recollections. Did you find this week a bit more difficult to get through than last week?

Adrian stepped up as a deputy to the Lord Protector giving Ryland an opportunity to try to flee the plague. Having done this, Lionel commented several times that Adrian's health greatly improved while he excelled at trying to keep the trade flowing and provide help to those who became economically depressed as a result of the plague. He also visited with those infected, offering encouragement and comfort. Given what we've seen him accomplish here do you think he should have gotten involved in the government earlier? Was his mother on to something (even if it was only the prestige and power that she was after)? How do you account for his health improving so much?

In the city after the first winter, one of the things that reopened was the theater. Do you see any hidden meaning behind the author's telling us the play being performed was Shakespeare's Macbeth?

Of all the characters and stories we've heard about folks infected with the plague, whose story touched you the most?

There was a quote, "Hope is dead!" What do you think about that? Is there any upside in becoming hopeless even under the dire conditions described to us? How can folks stay hopeful under such extreme conditions?


message 2: by Lori, Moderator (last edited Aug 24, 2020 07:12AM) (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1382 comments Mod
I wondered what Ryland was thinking, showing up to a kid's birthday party right after someone had dropped dead from the plague right in front of him. I was surprised no one threw him out of the house. But I guess, as Lionel implied later, that signs of the plague appear within a few hours if one is infected, so maybe Ryland came after that time.

I was also surprised, given even what we're seeing today, that anyone would even go out when they didn't have to - but then there are people doing that today, going to places of entertainment such as the theatre.

I wonder how Lionel hasn't been infected yet and, since he's the last man, how he will avoid being infected later.

Adrian has been pretty impressive. Maybe he's the type of person who is good in a crisis but might not be motivated to be a leader otherwise.

The last part was kind of confusing. The Americans were there, and they were fighting, and then the Irish were fighting, and then Lionel and Adrian were on a side that wanted to fight, but I might have missed some details since I skimmed over some of Lionel's flowery language.


message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2212 comments Mod
The description of Ryland was eerily relevant. He acted like a leader with a loud voice but when the crisis came, he had no plans and took action too late. He was also a coward who wanted to flee. If only some of our current leaders would do that! Adrian by contrast is empathetic and humble.

Some authors have characters who are one-dimensional. I feel like these characters are no-dimensional. They change ideas, behavior and health at the whim of the author, except that Adrian is always perfect.


message 4: by Daniela (last edited Aug 30, 2020 08:35AM) (new)

Daniela Sorgente | 126 comments Lori wrote: "I wondered what Ryland was thinking, showing up to a kid's birthday party right after someone had dropped dead from the plague right in front of him. I was surprised no one threw him out of the hou..." Americans escaped to Ireland, and then Irish and American people together went to England, looking for food and shelter but using violence in the process. But in the moment of the battle with the English army, Adrian convinced them not to fight, that the real enemy was the plague and "a gush of love and deepest amity filled every heart". Can we believe this?

Theatres are open, but only for tragedies, because "comedy brought with it too great a contrat to the inner despair". I found this surprising, as during the lockdown I was able to read and watch only about light topics.

"It hardly preserved the appearance of an inhabited city; grass sprung up thick in the streets": the same happened in our cities during the lockdown.

About hope: it seems that everyone is losing hope, they are realizing that it is only a matter of time... even Idris is beginning to really fear for her children.

What do you think about Lionel's idea to spend winter far from England? Do you think that it is wise to travel, to leave home, to go to unknown places?


message 5: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Daniela wrote: "Lori wrote: "Can we believe this?"

I don't know how many times I've said, "I can't believe this" out loud.


message 6: by Detlef (new)

Detlef Ehling | 77 comments I was struck by the notion that leaving England for areas more South would make a difference. Everyone there was supposedly dead from the Plague already. Why not try to make the best of it in England. These spontaneous decisions don’t really make much sense.
Some of the behavior of people is indeed eerily reminiscent what is happening these days. Human nature has not changed much.


message 7: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  Paullin | 766 comments Mod
Detlef wrote: "These spontaneous decisions don’t really make much sense.

Some of the behavior of people is indeed eerily reminiscent what is happening these days. Human nature has not changed much."


I absolutely agree with both points. I don't think, as a whole, we've learned very much.


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