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message 1: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 384 comments Mod
How does the theme of work function in this novel? What purpose does it serve?


message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol (cajonesdoa) | 640 comments Mod
We can look at it from the perspective of home, professionally, within the family dynamic, and work plays an important role in all these areas. If we look first at the family, the girls seem to know their tasks and assume them. Louisa always deep in
her heart wants to use the little bit of money she has earned from her writings and head off to Boston. Think of her jerk father and a man that really loved to party. He was a hard father, his family could be all around him and he wouldn’t even notice. The mother worked extremely hard, to the point of exhausting herself. I really appreciated her sacrifice to the family. I felt she shared her love, knowledge and support to the children in encouraging them to make the home better. It was hard for her and the others to let Louisa go when she finally made her decision. I also observed the work ethic of Joseph. As they were building the home, he and those helping him were not as careful as they should have been, but they had good intentions in reaching their goals. When Nicholas fell off the scaffolding or whatever of the house and
was killed, again I was very moved, and knew how important he was to Anna. As they were planning their wedding, and wanted to have the house finished by autumn, so they could move in, it felt so right. Then the accident, and Bronson (if I remember correctly—correct me if wrong. Hard to scan a book on Kindle) was some help in this part of the story.

One more thought I had, may not pertain to this question, but when they had dinner at Charles Sutton’s house you felt their wealth—carvings, banisters, pale blue wallpaper with pheasants. Their money was made building ships for War of 1812. The son didn’t want to continue the family business. After the father died, they moved and built a mansion without working. Anna was very attracted to Nicholas and they seemed to have a really good relationship. Charles married an Irish Girl named Clara McCarron. Felt sorry for the Suttons, because they had all they could have wanted if the son had kept the family business going, but let it go. Perhaps we all make such mistakes (not of that magnitude), but still regrettable mistakes.


message 3: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 384 comments Mod
I think you're right, Carol. Work functions within the grunt work of housekeeping, creating and maintaining a family, and professionally. For Louisa, I think work is a crucial part of her make-up: She needs to have purpose. This could be partially due to her not religious context that frowns on idleness, especially in women, but Louisa needs a nice cause and effect: expending effort, getting paid, seeing something tangible for your efforts, and fulfilling that part of herself that desires to write.

Also, very importantly, traditional paid work is directly tied to independence. Work = money. Money = independence. Louisa views writing as work, and so perhaps she sees writing as the path to independence, not the end goal?


message 4: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 251 comments Quoting Ashley:

"For Louisa, I think work is a crucial part of her make-up: She needs to have purpose. This could be partially due to her not religious context that frowns on idleness, especially in women, but Louisa needs a nice cause and effect: expending effort, getting paid, seeing something tangible for your efforts, and fulfilling that part of herself that desires to write."

To that end, couldn't part of her desire for independence come from a need to never be in the dire financial straits she was in as a child?


message 5: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 384 comments Mod
Lauren--YES. I think so. And her mother had little choice--no way of earning an income and a husband she had to submit to. Oh, and 4 children who needed food, shelter, clothing. Her mum's power was profound in some ways, but in practicality, the lady had zero power.


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (cajonesdoa) | 640 comments Mod
While I was reading I compared circumstances with different characters. I really like the thread you are writing now. Maybe we could consider some of the other characters and how "work" played in the story for them. Thinking of the Suttons, people obviously who knew what wealth was. Comparing the two families was interesting for me. And Lauren, you are SO right, no power for Mom there but all the responsibility.


message 7: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 251 comments I'm going to venture slightly off topic. In reading Eden's Outcasts (a biography of Louisa May and Bronson), I've been struck by both Bronson's embrace of manual labor (one person who met him was shocked by the fact he had "worker's hands") and Abba's absolute devotion to Bronson and her unfailing support and belief in him. It's a very different relationship than the one portrayed in Lost Summer, where Bronson is the spoiled, self-centered jerk and Abba the constantly sacrificing wife. That's not to say there isn't some truth to it, merely that, from what I'm reading now, their relationship was much more complicated (and seemed to more resemble the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. March in March.)

In Lost Summer, work is portrayed as a shackle and a way of showing the inequality between Bronson and Abba. It highlights why Louisa wouldn't want to continue in the vein of her parents and why she wouldn't run away with Joseph.


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