Mostly Literary Fiction Book Discussion Group discussion

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March (1/09) > What is the motivation for and impact of March's deceptions?

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message 1: by Sally (new)

Sally (Mostly_Literary) | 72 comments Mod
Mr. March joins the Union Army as a chaplain, and is deceptive to his wife on many counts – about his war-time experiences and his relationship with Grace. What do you think about his deception? How does it affect his marriage, and his own personal self-perception?


message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin | 52 comments Mr. March's deception and others like his is sometimes a consequence of war. The things never said, the things that can never be talked about, because they are too painful , too raw to share, are often a part of the deal. There often exists betrayals large and small. Simply put, war changes people, it destroys marriages, friendships, families and sometimes nations. You can never go back to being the person you were before. His deception forever changed his marriage and his relationship with his entire family. His deception was wrong, but very human. His personal self perception is what suffered the most. He felt like an imposter when he came home, home to the house of a man he remembered but no longer was.


message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin | 52 comments Sally, you had asked us to choose a part of the book, March, that stood out or had some meaning to us. Where to start?........I save favorite sentences from the books I read. So....When Mr. Clement was kind enough to allow Mr. March free access to his library my heart skipped a beat. I loved the following as many of you book lovers might relate to.(page 18) "I realize that lust stands high in the list of deadly sins. And yet lust-the tightening throat, the flushed cheeks, the raging appetite-is the only word accurate to describe the sensation I felt that morning, as the painted door closed and I was left with the liberty of all those books." I loved this sentence because it speaks to book madness and to a healthy sense of humor. : )


message 4: by Mathilde (new)

Mathilde Apelt (mathilde_schmidt) | 13 comments I think I have to reread "March," I'm just through rereading "Little Woman" and only find Mr. March i side character, just sketched as the one man in a household of six and sorely missed by all his women. Does that fact, having no other man to talk to in his own house, contribute to the "excuse" of leaving them and fight for his country--together with other men, also from a loving, warm protective home. Why do men prefer war to to family life, under the pretense of duty to their country? What did Grace have to offer that Miss Day did not have? Surely, he met Grace before he met Marmee, he couldn't possibly marry her, though he admired her and lusted for her. Mr. Clement surely destroyed all this, feeling that he was right defending the south and all what the planters thought they should do to protect tradition there. Grace, evidently the illegitimate daughter of her master, and therefore allowed to learn to read, knows more than everyone else where her place is. She is, besides poor Miss Day, an ethical person where her place is. She knows she cannot follow her instincts, though she wants to cross her maaster's orders not to contribute to prudence's education. As I said, I will reread the book.

Mathilde.


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Lemaster (21treehugger) | 36 comments Robin wrote: "Sally, you had asked us to choose a part of the book, March, that stood out or had some meaning to us. Where to start?........I save favorite sentences from the books I read. So....When Mr. Clement..."

I can absolutely relate to your selection. The prose used to describe Mr. March's desire (such a weak word!)is so beautiful as well. I don't know how many books I have read over the years where someone's treasury of books is bestowed on some unfortunate much to his/her glee. A nice passage.


message 6: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Lemaster (21treehugger) | 36 comments Mathilde wrote: "I think I have to reread "March," I'm just through rereading "Little Woman" and only find Mr. March i side character, just sketched as the one man in a household of six and sorely missed by all his..."

I can't believe you already reread Little Women! I just started it with my daughters and haven't gotten past the tenth page! True, we read the first night and I have yet to follow through, but I can't imagine reading that book so quickly!

I think you raise interesting questions about Mr. March and his "little women." In terms of Grace and Marmee, I don't look at it as what could one offer that the other could not. I think you answered your own question on that besides. Grace had characteristics that attracted Mr. March just as certainly as Marmee did, but even with all of her admirable characteristics, I don't think Mr. March could ever really think of her as much more than an object of his attraction. As much as her respected her, or thought her lovely, she still was someone he looked on as different because of race. In this time and space there is just no way around this issue. Even with all of March's idealism and peace-loving ways, all of American culture and society, all it had ever shown or known was an unfortunate, interminable difference between black and white.


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Lemaster (21treehugger) | 36 comments Sally wrote: "Mr. March joins the Union Army as a chaplain, and is deceptive to his wife on many counts – about his war-time experiences and his relationship with Grace. What do you think about his deception? Ho..."

Hmmm... what do I think of March's deceptions? A natural consequence of war? Maybe. Mostly I think he just wanted to save his family the fear and the hurt and the horror of what war truly is. If they were exposed to its horrors, could they, would they still support the war? Would their idealism remain intact in the face of such loss and destruction? It would likely remain intact if they were only told the horrors inflicted on the "contraband" but I think would be harder to hold on to that "moral certainty" that March holds so dear. It is far easier to romanticize about war when you don't know its gory details. It is easier to romaniticize and keep your ideals when you can think in collective loss (ie of life) then when one gets down to the nitty-gritty individual stories. I think March wants them to keep what he lost. This begs the question: Is that fair?

Michelle


message 8: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Lemaster (21treehugger) | 36 comments Sally wrote: "Mr. March joins the Union Army as a chaplain, and is deceptive to his wife on many counts – about his war-time experiences and his relationship with Grace. What do you think about his deception? Ho..."

I just reread the question and realised there was more to respond to. March's relationship with Grace clearly cracks the marriage's foundation. It does this because it cracks Marmee's faith in March. I don't think any relationship, now or then, gets over this type of deception. We are merely spared the details of this long road to recovery, because of where the story leaves off.

In terms of March's self-perception, it certainly suffered. He made some pretty bad choices over the course of the war. Yes, human choices, sometimes altruistic choices, sometimes entirely self-serving, selfish choices. I mean, he is human and this is war (though that excuses nothing). March is unable to forgive himself for his choices and as a result, feels sorry for himself. I think he carried this too far. I think it's just as selfish to feel that sorry for oneself as March did.


message 9: by Sally (new)

Sally (Mostly_Literary) | 72 comments Mod
Mathilde wrote: "I think I have to reread "March," I'm just through rereading "Little Woman" and only find Mr. March i side character, just sketched as the one man in a household of six and sorely missed by all his..."

Great discussion, everyone! Mathilde, I'll reply directly to you, though this is really for everyone. I think the fact that Mr. March left his family to participate in the war (an option, not a requirement, in his case) is a big source of disappointment and anger on Marmee's part -- which goes right over Mr. March's head. When he announces his decision to go to war, he completely misreads Marmee's reaction as one of pride -- when in fact, she is furious with him. The sense of fulfilling one's "duty" to one's country is generally so accepted. But the other side of the coin is that he opted out of his obligations to his family, pursuing his lofty ideal of serving his country. This is a complicated situation -- I wouldn't say that it's never the "right" thing to opt to fight in a war, or serve your country in some other way in wartime. But Mr. March seems to be clueless to the burden that he is placing on his wife and children. Instead, he hopes to reap some kind of "honor" for his choice.

Mathilde, Mr. March is a side character in Little Women -- you didn't miss anything in that. Geraldine Brooks found it interesting to imagine and flesh out what his character might have been. I think it was an interesting choice, and she succeeded in "completing" the story of Little Women in a compelling way.


message 10: by Sally (new)

Sally (Mostly_Literary) | 72 comments Mod
Michelle wrote: "Sally wrote: "Mr. March joins the Union Army as a chaplain, and is deceptive to his wife on many counts – about his war-time experiences and his relationship with Grace. What do you think about his..."

Michelle, you raise a lot of points that will be really interesting to discuss at our meeting. I agree with you overall -- though I think I might feel a little more sympathetic with Mr. March coming to terms with his disillusionment about the North's aims in the war. Having ideals, especially when you are trying to make a difference in the world, and then finding that others you expected to admire, don't live up to your expectations is hard. On top of that, dealing with your own failures -- it's a hard process. But I think you are ultimately right, that we need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and find a way to move on in a positive way. I'm not sure that Mr. March ever achieved that.


message 11: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Lemaster (21treehugger) | 36 comments Sally wrote: "Michelle wrote: "Sally wrote: "Mr. March joins the Union Army as a chaplain, and is deceptive to his wife on many counts – about his war-time experiences and his relationship with Grace. What do yo..."

I agree with Sally, what a fun discussion! My response will be short since I want to save goodies for tonight! I only want to say, that I don't lack sympathy for March, I just think he's just kind of wallowing (sp?) in self-pity for a multitude of reasons. Everyone is entitle to grieving time, even if one is grieving the erosion of one's romantic ideals, but like you said, there comes a point where it's simply time to move on. I have to also say, and this is something I have struggled with over the years, that before one goes out to save the world, one must save those that are closest to home. I am uncomfortable with the fact that Mr. March doesn't see the importance of tending his own family and can only look to the battlefields to ease his troubled mind. Oh I'm getting carried away! More later...




message 12: by Sally (new)

Sally (Mostly_Literary) | 72 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "Sally, you had asked us to choose a part of the book, March, that stood out or had some meaning to us. Where to start?........I save favorite sentences from the books I read. So....When Mr. Clement..."

Great passage - thanks, Robin!



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