Classics Without All the Class discussion

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May 2015- Till We Have Faces > Book 1, Chapter 4

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) May 2015 book discussion --> Till We Have Faces

The previous chapter showed the increasing practice of worshipping Psyche. In this chapter we begin to see the dangerous consequences of this worship. We also see a more negative side to Orual.

People continue to die from the plague and the famine worsens. When Psyche leaves the palace grounds to try to heal some of the suffering, the crowd throws stones at her and cries out, "The Accursed, the Accursed! She made herself into a goddess." Another says, "She is the curse itself."

Two thoughts:

(1) During all this talk about Psyche being a goddess, she never denies the accusation. She seems to enjoy the attention. Comments?

(2) How could things change so quickly from people worshiping Psyche to thinking she is the Accursed?

Orual hears that Psyche had exited the palace and rebukes her younger sister, but is surprised at the response. "She neither accepted the rebuke like a child nor defended herself like a child, but looked at me with a grave quietness, almost as if she were older than I. It gave me a pang at the heart." Orual appears to want Psyche to remain a child that she cares for. It looks like a possessive love, the kind that a mother has who doesn't want her child to mature but rather to stay dependent on her forever.

Then, when Orual becomes enraged at Psyche's mistreatment by the people, she threatens to go to the king and have the people punished. Psyche tells her not to be angry. "You look just like our father when you say those things." Orual says that those words "hurt me with a wound that sometimes aches still." Just as their father's anger would make him lose control; so Orual's love for Psyche could cause her to do the same.

The chapter ends when the priest of Ungit ("very old and now blind"), with his guards stationed outside, enters the Pillar Room of the palace. There's an ominous overtone here with the presence of the holy priest foreboding evil.

What is your reaction to all of this?


message 2: by John (new)

John Oraul's love is terribly possessive. Well put. It seems she wants Psyche to be her little toy - one that won't ever disappoint her. Orual's desire to punish the people shows that Orual is so very selfish. But I admit that I pity her because of the way she's been treated her whole life. She feels ugly and useless. No wonder she wants to exert some power.


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) Yes, we can see reasons why she is possessive but it is too bad she cannot get past it.


message 4: by Lizbeth (last edited May 11, 2015 07:26PM) (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments This chapter really got to me for a personal reason. This didn't happen to me, but to my sister-in-law, as a child. Her family was visiting a village in southern Mexico and were the only white people some of the villagers had ever seen (this was in the seventies before satellite TV).

The people were fascinated with her because of her white-blonde hair and large green eyes. They kept wanting to touch her, and thought of her as being nearly angelic. She was an ornery scamp, like any modern child, but because she looked so "other-worldly" to them, they spoiled her and enjoyed her antics.

One day, a neighbor woman who had given birth to a beautiful baby started allowing visitors. My little sister-in-law would visit often and hold the baby and make over it, which was also fascinating for people to watch. The baby died in its early infancy for no obvious reason, as many babies do in those living conditions, with no access to medical care.

The reason for the baby's death was attributed to my sister-in-law's "strong eyes". They believed that she had accidentally given the baby evil eye, not out of malice; but rather out of possessive and intense longing to be close to such a sweet baby.

In this case, the people chalked it up to basic bad luck, as just one of those unfortunate things that can happen among humans and the spirit world, and didn't blame her or even treat her differently after that. (Whew!)

This chapter was so strange for me because my sister-in-law's experience with the baby was like a combination of Oural's feelings toward Psyche, and also the people's reactions over Psyche's beauty and then sudden blame for their misfortune, all in one.

No hard feelings came out of this toward my in-laws, (miraculously) but I can't imagine what this real-life drama did to the psyche (pun intended) of such a young girl who stood out physically and was propped up because of that, only to have all of that attention go awry.


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jborland) My goodness, what an interesting story. I love that everything worked out okay for your sister-in-law. Thank you for sharing how this chapter affected you.


message 6: by Alana (new)

Alana (alanasbooks) | 208 comments O wow, what a story! I wouldn't have thought of that! So interesting how different cultures would view something like that, just from the novelty of different skin or hair or eye color.


message 7: by Lizbeth (new)

Lizbeth | 23 comments Hi, Alana

I know, right? :-) This story from her life caused me to think about what celebrity does to the person at the center of all of the attention that can easily turn to notoriety.


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