Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Discussion Post #1 - We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Hope that the first few days of October have been treating you right! I love this time of year, if for no other reason than the cheery atmosphere that it breeds :). Of course, there's also the completely opposite opportunity to get lost in something atmospheric for a different reason. Welcome to your first discussion post of the month!


Discussion Questions:

* After re-reading the opening lines below, share your opinion. Did they succeed at drawing you in?
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.

* Merricat is what is known as an unreliable narrator. How much of what she says do you think is true? Do you trust her story?

* What do you think of Constance, Charles, and Uncle Julian? Do you think they are reliable narrators?

* Despite the townspeople who hate them, these characters are living a rather idyllic life so far. Does the opinion of the townspeople affect your outlook on these characters?

* Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived In The Castle was first published in 1962. This means it is termed a classic, and has the writing style to match. What's your opinion on the way this book is written? Are you enjoying it?


My Thoughts:

So first off, I loved these opening lines. Obviously, since I made them a discussion question. They instantly show us what kind of person Merricat is, and that she might not always be the easiest narrator to follow. She's definitely an unreliable narrator. There's this aura of uncertainty, mystery, and a bit of insanity that seem to follow her around. I've noticed more than once that she takes pleasure in things that make other people squirm, and it makes me wonder how much of what she's telling us is true. 

In terms of the other characters, Constance seems a bit flighty to me. Like maybe she's not quite all there. She definitely loves Merricat though. Uncle Julian, because of his earlier internal injuries, is a little tough to stomach sometimes. The way he incessantly mutters about the event, repeating himself over and over, gets rough to follow. However he's also the only person who might actually be able to tell us the truth! If, that is, we can pull it out of the rambling. Charles? I'm not sure about yet. He seems to have ulterior motives for visiting and, although I don't know what they are yet, I don't forsee the being good.

I think the townspeople are an important part of this story, especially those from the rich families who actually take the time to visit with the Blackwoods. It's interesting how they shun the family now, as if they know there's something vile brewing beneath the surface despite the idyllic outside. I'm honestly intrigued! I'm wondering if it will be one of them who finds out the truth.

It's true that this writing took me a few pages to sink into, but I feel like it really builds the atmosphere around Merricat's story. It's dark, but funny at times, and full of this tension that tells me something big is coming. If it weren't for Uncle Julian, whom I am learning to deal with better, I think I'd have fallen in love long ago.

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