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The Towers of Silence
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HISTORY OF SOUTHERN ASIA > WEEK NINE - THE TOWERS OF SILENCE ~ February 9th - February 15th>PART FOUR - THE HONOUR OF THE REGIMENT - Chapter Three (pg 262 - 274 - Chapter Four (pg. 275 - 286) - Chapter Five (pg 286 - 298) No Spoilers

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message 1: by Jill (last edited Jan 24, 2015 04:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Hello Everyone,

For the week of February 9th - February 15th, we are reading PART FOUR - The Honour of the Regiment - The Towers of Silence -Book III, PART FOUR - The Honour of the Regiment - Chapter Three (pg. 262 - 274) - Chapter Four (pg. 275 - 286) and Chapter Three (pg. 286 - 298)

This week's reading assignment is:

WEEK NINE- February 9th - February 15th ~ PART FOUR - The Honour of the Regiment - Chapter Three (pg. 2262 - 274) - Chapter Four (pg. 275 - 286) and Chapter Five (pg. 286 - 298).

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other spotlighted books.

This book was kicked off on December 8th.

We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, local bookstore or on your Kindle. Make sure to pre-order now if you haven't already. This weekly thread will be opened up on February 9th.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Jill will be leading this discussion and back-up will be Bentley.




The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet, #3) by Paul Scott by Paul Scott Paul Scott



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Book as a Whole and Final Thoughts - SPOILER THREAD

The Towers of Silence (The Raj Quartet, #3) by Paul Scott by Paul Scott Paul Scott

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Chapter Summary and Overview

Barbie has been told that there is not room at Clarissa's for all of her belonging. She will to be able to take her trunk which holds all her memories. She is wrestling with this problem when Sarah stops by to visit and she tells Barbie she will take care of the trunk by putting it in her room at the grace and favor cottage. They go on the patio for tea and talk about Captain Merrick and Miss Crane who Merrick knew slightly.

Sarah asks her what the trouble is between Barbie and it the burial issue? "is all it is" says Barbie, nothing more. Sarah speaks of Aunt Fenny and that Uncle Arthur is teaching a class on how to run India in peace time. It is attempt to interest young Indian men in the civil service but is not much of a success.

Barbie senses that Sarah has no clearly defined world to inhabit, but one poised between the old for which she had been prepared but which seemed to be dying, and the new for which she had not been prepared at all.

Barbie hopes that the annuity promised to Aziz in Mabel's will is going to be honored and Susan assures her that it is. Barbie makes one more trip around the rose garden after Sarah leaves and realizes that it is a native garden now and that the English were just visitors which was their mistake.

Susan, after meeting with friends and hearing them talking about what regiment the baby should join when the time came, goes home, takes the child and makes a circle of oil around him. She kneels down and lights the circle. Minnie, the amah, sees this and saves them both. Susan is taken away.

Mildred has become obsessive about Barbie and sends back the silver spoons that had been a christening gift. Barbie decides to donate them to the regiment in the name of Mabel. She decides to take them personally to Captain Coley. At his bungalow, she sees he is not alone.......he and Mildred are entwined naked on the bed. She runs away in panic in the pouring rain.

message 3: by Jill (last edited Feb 09, 2015 10:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Question/Discussion

Barbie tells Sarah that the burial issue is the only reason for Mildred's estrangement. But what else do you think it is since it is not just this one issue. And this was before the scene in Captain Coley's bungalow.

I think Barbie's assessment of Sarah is spot on. But she may not be taking into consideration that Sarah is a stronger character than generally believed. She appears to be one of the few who can adapt to the transition of India. Or am I misreading her personality?

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The civil service class that Uncle Arthur is teaching......does it mean to address India in peace time under the British or a liberated India? The author wasn't clear on that point.

Martin Zook | 615 comments On Sarah's ability to adapt, I suppose it means what do mean by adapt?

The scene with Barbie barging in while Mildred is making the beast with two backs with the kitchen help is to die for. Beneath that superficial facade of class, Mildred brings little to the picnic.

Given that Scott said all of the chapters reflect some facet of himself, I wonder what Mildred is reflecting?

Martin Zook | 615 comments I've been watching the admiration for Sarah here because she is perceived as independent thinking, not subject to stratified codes of the Raj.

But maybe it's not premature to ask: Really?

In her thoughts, she has pushed back, in her thinking.

What about her actions, though?

In their actions, are Lady Manners, Barbie, Ludmila, Mabel all have pursued independent courses of action counter to conformity to the Raj.

Sarah, on the other hand, remains very much within the Raj in her actions, no?

Kressel Housman | 917 comments I didn't understand until this book that Susan's baby survived. I looked back in the last one, which clearly states that the Indian servant girl rescued him, but I guess it seemed like a more powerful ending that he died like the scorpion.

Martin Zook | 615 comments Actually, more powerful the way Scott wrote it because as your post demonstrates, Kressel, it causes dissonance. The actuality is counter to the way you think things are.

Death is implied by the story of the scorpion, while the child's rescue implies life. Not unlike the metaphor of Siva, whose fire of destruction and death are a unity.

Just another example of Scott weaving that dissonance into his story.

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I'll grant you, Martin, that Sarah hasn't done much tangible to set herself up as someone who is "breaking the rules" of behavior for a woman of the Raj. But I have hope, only because she is intelligent enough to see where the world is going. If she has pushed back in her thinking, she can push back in her actions. Will she? That remains to be seen but at least she does not fall into the category of the "ladies who lunch".

Martin Zook | 615 comments More dissonance.

message 11: by Martin (last edited Feb 12, 2015 08:45AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Martin Zook | 615 comments The characters in the quartet are fairly well defined by this point. When the reader reaches the end, all of the characters are true to themselves in their actions. In this, Scott is true to the notion that the action and characters define what is possible looking forward.

I only bring up the issue of characters, the women here given that the middle two volumes surrender center stage to them, because it seems easy for a reader to project their own thinking (prejudices?) on Sarah, given her promise.

Or, as Jill says, it's easy to have hope for her.

But, I would argue that given we are nearly 3/4 through the quartet, that the dye is cast as regards the main characters, especially the women.

And, while there is much to admire about Sarah, and she especially appeals to modern sensibilities (by the bye she is a lady who lunches - see the wedding sequences) in her independent thinking, she doesn't seek independence from the rules of the Raj in her actions.

I suppose the closest she comes is her sexual awakening, but then the ladies of the Raj are not sexless, so there is room for sex, even discreet illicit sex as Mildred demonstrates, within the Raj. But beyond I missing something?

message 12: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I don't think you are missing anything, Martin. But I think that Sarah is the only one whose "fate" or life direction has not yet been decided. That must be the reason that I still have hope that she will become something other than a typical woman of the Raj. Maybe I am missing something!!!

message 13: by Katy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katy (kathy_h) It seems that Barbie represents all that is "wrong" in India. Mildred is looking for a scape goat for the changes that are happening around her and in her "correct" world. The dislike probably started with the fact that Mildred wanted Rose Cottage and with Barbie being there she could not take over the Cottage from Mabel as easily, but this dislike becomes even more as time passes.

message 14: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I think we can all agree that Mildred is a b***h. Can you imagine how Barbie felt when she came upon the scene in Cpt. Coley's cottage!!!!!! And how Mildred will feel if she finds out that Barbie saw that little scene and I think she will find out.

Martin Zook | 615 comments I wouldn't say Sarah is a typical woman of the Raj. She's not. But neither is she free of the Raj; nor does she challenge it in any meaningful way.

message 16: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I just get the idea that Sarah has the brains to challenge the existing rules of the Raj, if she chooses. But she may not choose to do that.

Martin Zook | 615 comments It takes more than brains. Cases in point: Barbie, Lady Manners, Mabel, Ludmila, and, of course, Daphne.

To this point, we've seen all of the fore mentioned women act as individuals leaving their mark on history, as Sarah might put it.

With all her intelligence, Sarah can't decide. She's more than a little like Hamlet, without the final act. She sees, she knows, she doesn't act.

message 18: by Jill (last edited Feb 13, 2015 10:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) That is what I meant......she may not choose even though she has intelligence to see what the future of the English is India will be. What do we call it that causes an individual to finally take tangible action...strength of purpose, morality, rebellion? I had great hopes for her as an enlightened young person who was cut from a different cloth than some of the other female characters. Maybe not!

Kressel Housman | 917 comments I love Sarah. She reminds me of my Mom. She's not a mover or a shaker, but she has her own independent opinions. She's also the stabilizing force in her immediately family. So how much, realistically, can she rock the boat?

message 20: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) She certainly wouldn't have the opportunity that Lady Manners had (by taking in Daphne's child and therefore cutting herself out of society). But sometimes, it didn't take much to rock the boat in British India. Society took offense at the slightest deviation from the rules.

Martin Zook | 615 comments Remember Sarah's thoughts during the wedding passage, especially her notion of the individual's relationship with History. It is defined by individual actions. Compare that with Barbie's Emersonian epiphany that History is contained within the individual, and see where you come out.

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