Set in the harsh environment of the South Island beaches of New Zealand, this masterful story brings together three singular people in a trinity that reflects their country's varied heritage. Winner of the 1985 Booker-McConnell prize for fiction. Source
For Your Consideration: Finis:
|June 20-30||The End: Collect the cards and put them back in the deck.|
What one thing in the first two chapters made the greatest impression on you and why?
I agree that the prologue is confusing. Actually I thought it was too hard to understand and
plunged right into the first section. Re-reading today hardly helped.
So my request is indeed: help, what is the author saying?
May I jump in and post a sentence from p. 20?
"What in the name of hell have I said that would make it cry?"
It -- Kerewin calls a child it?, and had called him (prior page):
Ratbag child. (even after being kind to him)
A person who thinks of a little child as "it", even if the child is trespassing,
is not a person I like. Maybe is a person I hate.
Do you think the author uses these and similar phrases intentionally?
Does the author want the reader to dislike Kerewin?
Does Kerewin dislike herself? Is that why she build the tower, a hermitage?
What is the consequence of Simon's, the intruder's, scaling the wall of Kerwin's towered sanctuary , andRapunzel of Grimm's Fair Tales came to my mind - but Rapunzel was imprisoned, while Kerwin's withdrawal from conventional society was voluntary.
what effect does it have on the two adults?
IN THE BEGINNING, it was a tension, an element of strain that grew…. And ends…"And he knows the rock of desolation and the depth of despair."
Do you think the author wants the reader to like or dislike Kerewin? Does Kerewin dislike herself? (Mippy).
Sometimes there's white space to indicate an interval and sometimes, when the interval is longer, there are three asterisks flush to the left margin. In the US or England, these pauses would be made up of stars or dots, but they would be centered
Kerewin, can't you stand it when a child touches you?
You are damaged goods, aren't you?
Obviously the book hits me hard; being unfeeling to a child makes my hair stand on end.
Yes MARNI, the treatment of the Indians came to my mind too, how they were plied with "fire water", "generously" given blankets with TB bacilli, driven from their ancestral land, banished to arid regions and segregated in reservations where today alcoholism is rampant, forever socially dismissed.
Who can blame them for speaking out in anguish and with resentment, or writing about it? One who did is the talented author Sherman Alexie (born in 1966), a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian who grew up on a Spokane Indian reservation.
With due respect I believe we cannot measure this book in conventional terms or read it just like any other book. It defies comparison and begs for slow, patient reading, for reading with the heart, as it were. That demands work. It does not promise fun.
The author uses all kinds of literary devices, stream of consciousness, interior monologue, dreams, flashbacks and flash-forwards, Maori myths of which we have no knowledge, and we try to grasp it all, nolens volens .
Yes, the spiral symbol is a powerful clue to the story and worth pursuing.
"I guess it depends on what these "things" are. The "things" Native Americans were close to might strike us as odd, yet the catalogues of "things" we love to browse and buy from (Crate & Barrel, Williams & Sonoma, Orvis, Cold Water Creek) might strike them as odd. As inveterate materialists, we need only look around us to see the role "things" play in our lives. We're drowning in them, by the standards of most people in the world!
Just as Kerewin is half-Maori, so are her priorities. Could it be a cultural thing you're recalling, then, Joan? Indigenous tribes of peoples throughout the world are known for their practical use of things -- say, every single piece of a killed deer or bear -- and we're not known for that.
"We certainly don't pray for the spirit of the cow before we eat him in the form of a Big Mac or a Whopper w/Cheese. Nor do we use bones from said cow as tools, nor jewelry from a bear's teeth and claws, etc. "
"I see Kerewin as a hybrid in more ways than one, then. I see her as someone close to the land and sea, someone who knows a thing or two about catching, cooking, using the world around her."
"BTW, to get back to last night's "fake" discussion, I do not think it is "fake" to hold secrets from the world, I think it's normal and something we all do to a greater or lesser extent. "
3. Let's look for a moment at the characterization of the character called Simon Peter. Is this character REAL to you? What impression or picture do you have of him? Is there anything about his situation which seems incongruous? What is the consequence of Simon's, the intruder's, scaling the wall of Kerwin's towered sanctuary , and what effect does it have on the two adults? (Traude) What is the author telling us about Simon's gift [of a rosary] to Kerewin? (Marni)
"You are nothing," says Kerewin coldly. "You are nobody , and will never be anything, anyone."
And her inner voice, the snark, which comes into its own during depressions like this, says,And you have never been anything at anytime, remember?.....
"Shut up," says Kerewin aloud to herself. "I know I am very stupid." But not so stupid as to take this. (page 112, Picador [the orange one} paperback, next to the last page in Chapter 2.)
Kerewin is a fake in that her outward persona does not really reveal the person within. One has to peel back many layers to expose the real Kerewin. The layers have formed from painful life experiences. There are many people who leave this earth never having these layers removed. That is a sad but true fact of life.
Ginny -- unnatural for a woman to hunt? But if she wants to eat . . ? My youngest, a former vegetarian, who grows all her own produce, now wants to take up hunting, "Just to be self-sufficient, Mom."
I dislike any person, real or fictional, who drinks to forget his/her problems; of course, that extends to substance abuse, for the same reason: reaching for oblivion.
Many of us may have experienced the equivilant of Kerewin's anxiety over not being able to paint (I know I have), but we don't turn to drink (I hope) and we don't whine about it.
Sure, whining may develop into a novel for some such people, it doesn't convince me.
There is certainly a lot of great fiction out there where the author is not a border line alcoholic.
Simon is a wonderful character, who I believe is 6 or 7 years old, not as young as some of you posters supposed. That is based on his ability to write notes, which would be unusual for a younger child.
I believe Kerewin says such a line, but I cannot find the page.
Simon is speechless after a trauma -- have to be careful saying this, because I read the whole book, and
should not give away anything too soon.
Simon gets into a heck of a lot of trouble, yes, but he is a survivor! Any child who knows how to manipulate adults as he does is certainly smart. And skipping school -- that's no shocker, if others are mean to him. I really like the kid, trouble and all!
The expression "coals of fire" when used with the expression on ones head is an an English Idiom meaning:
Idiom: heap coals of fire on someone's head:
To make them feel guilty by repaying evil with good.
It comes from a verse which occurs twice (!) (or maybe more times), in the Bible:
In Romans 12:20 …."Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." And in Proverbs 25: 21-22...."If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee."
What is meant in this section by the following:I'd stay here all night and play chess with you if that's what you want, and it doesn't need an offer of tea, either. Because you looked after Himi and I'd like to do that.Heap coals of fire upon my head.
"We didn't have tea," he says. "We came straight here after I got home from work…"
What does the expression "coals of fire" mean to you? What does it mean in this context? Has she used it correctly or what is she doing here? What do YOU think, what do you make of this??
Regarding Simon: He has to be very bright. No joke. His communications skills are above average -- the simple signing, the writing; he hasn't been in school that long, and is only there about half the time anyway. And he's perceptive in reading people --
SHE FEEDS ME AND PLAYS GUITAR
Does she like you? NO
There's another puzzle on p. 72, regarding colors:
Redbrown, redbrown as red chalk, earthcoloured reminder.
(Eathercoloured another symbol?)
"Stammel and murrey," she murmurs happily, "ruddle and madder and o solferino"
hunting with gusto through the chest of chalks.
These are apparently the names of the colors; does anyone know if they have additional meaning?
But during his peregrinations and breakins, Simon had routinely stolen things - that much we learn early on from the (knowing) operator's talks with Kerewin.
Joe bears watching.
Again I submit that it is impossible, for me at least, to arrive at a pat character analysis of the protagonists without further reading.
Of course the Maori would (have to) be familiar with biblical references, how could they not- those who survived and were force-fed over subsequent generations-, had in their bones, so to speak, but what seems to be important is the linking, the fusion of the biblical reference with Maori myths.
This is a supposition,, and conjecture, on my part and, as always, I defer to CAROLYN.
"So you picked up the techniques, but not the spirit of it?" (next to last page of current reading schedule)
A. What was your reaction to Kerewin's beating of Joe? B. What is the significance of the ring, "Bright as their smiles, seemingly unbroken as their friendship." (last sentence in this segment). C. "I'm good enough to take the beginners…I started out with a cold temper, fast reactions, a killer instinct, as well as Maori ancestors…all of which makes me someone to avoid when I'm in a nasty mood. Don't worry," she says ginning, her teeth shining red in the light from the open firebox door…What was your reaction to this speech? 6. What, in your opinion, did the author do well in this section? What, if anything, do you think she did poorly? 7. What is meant by Kerwein's dream about teeth?
Let's hear from YOU!!
I Season of the Day Moon
1 Portrait of a SandalII The Sea Round
3 Leaps in the Dark
4 A Place to Sleep by DayWith only this lineup before me, how can I tell WHERE exactly we are?
5 Spring Tide, Neap Tide, Ebb Tide, Flood
6 Ka Tata Te Po
Does the paperback edition list the SAME chapter TITLES?
Since the current assignment is chapters 1 and 2, can we assume that it ends with the last word in "Feelers"?
To preclude further confusion, would it be possible to LIST the chapter titles?
Thank you for accommodating fossils like me who have the hardcover. At this point I have no idea where I am supposed to be in this discussion.
That's why Simon doesn't speak: a tongue-locked mind!
Kerewin apparently does think he is mute because of some trauma.
And she falls asleep trying to decide whether to go to the police and to check hospital records. Will she?
Has no one mentioned the poem referral(PPBk-pge 35)
Frae ghosties an ghoulies
an longlegged beasties
an things that gae bump!
in the night,
guid God deliver us.....
Is this a Robert Burns poem? Or does it come from an Indiana writer, like, James Whitcomb Riley or an Ohio poet, Thurber?? I thought that Kerewin had had an extensive education somewhere in her past. She is very intelligent, beyond many. Knows biology, oceanography, poetry. Where does this come from.
She is in a pickle when she decides not to report Joe's beating of Simon. She has finally let someone into her life and doesn't want to lose them. IMHO, she decides that, alone, she can handle Joe and Simon and stop the beating which is so far out of control that I can't imagine anyone without strong credentials being able to help Joe. His anger at the world is unbelievable! Its is sick!
I have tried for years to impress anyone with the teaching of 'parenting' in the schools plus 'conflict resolution': from the day they enter school at Kindergarten level. There are schools across the country that do teach 'conflict resolution' but 'parenting' is not offered. We don't seem to have improved much as a civilization, in spite of these courses that are around.
" I still cannot help thinking that Keri did not CONTRIVE her style of elaborate symbolism more from allowing the Maori part of her take over as she wrote." Carolyn
When I said that I had missed 100 posts, I didn't mean that I hadn't read all the above posts before commenting and then went back just a bit so that I could be trying to speak on the same subject that ya'al are. I didn't see anyone mentioning the poems so thought I would mention them.
One of the things thought early on by Kerewin was that she was above average in intelligence. Where did she learn all the things that she knows about the sea, the earth and the skies?? Hmmmm! Her past and the past of Simon and Joe are really mysterious and not much is brought forth about that time in their lives.
Ginny, you asked about auras and I didn't see anyone answer you. I have several friends plus one daughter, who claim that they can see auras. I believe it was Simon who could see auras. Some folk have something that I don't have, how about you? Here's a site about auras. Auras
Ginny asked: What do you call the syndrome where the person thinks one minute they are powerful
and mighty and the next they are lower than a dog?
Is that bipolar syndrome, or some other neurosis? Is that where the doctors prescribe lithium, to even out the moods? Or is that called another name?
Anyway, not in the mood to look up mental illness, on such a warm and beautiful, sunny afternoon,
I'll just suggest that Kerewin is probably no more neurotic than most other people (Keri, no more than other authors). Don't we often read that creative people (Kerewin, artist and Keri, author) need to have some underlying neurosis in order be creative.
Hahaha , no wonder I cannot write even short stories. Not neurotic enough.
Auras: Can those of you who wrote you do see them, please explain.
I have never understood what it would be like to see them.
On the floor at her feet was an engraved double-spiral, one of the kind that wound your eyes round and round into the center where surprise you found the beginning of another spiral that led your eyes out again to the nothingness of the outside: she had never quite made her mind up as to what a nothingness was. Whatever way you defined it, it seemed to be something.
The spiral made a useful thought-focus, a mandala, anyway.
In many churches there is a meditation spiral on the floor and some of the nuns here in Ohio have made outdoor spirals(another name belongs here) using the flora of the area. These are walked into and out of for meditation.
At his juncture in the book, it is my impression that we hear/read the author's genuine feelings- startlingly intimate as they may be. But I cannot believe she would set out to deliberately manipulate the reader in any way, or why.
I agree that the author's wide knowledge is stupendous. Can't remember who said it here first, hence not give proper vredit. Sorry.
Also, when Simon first meets Kerewin, he thinks about her while resting on the floor as she and Joe play Chess, referring to her as "it" and hoping that their relationship is a beginning of better things for him. This is in Chp 2-Feelers on ppbk page 72.
Carolyn, I think we do similar things about children who are battered here, having conferences with the parents(not the extended family), offering them 'anger management' classes and in many cases, removing the child from the home. We also have the problem of wife beating which is handled in a similar way. Do the Maori have this problem?
One must have a heart of stone not to be moved by the human suffering, past and present, and by this book.
1 : the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it 2 : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this.
BROADCAST PREMIERE OF "WHALE RIDER" THIS SUMMER ON PBS PBS Presentation Plans to Include Never-Before-Seen "Making of" Footage and Behind-the-Scenes Stories. WHALE RIDER airs on Sunday, July 24, 2005. Check local listings.
The award-winning, critically acclaimed WHALE RIDER, a cinematic re-telling of a Maori legend, comes to PBS in summer 2005. The film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Pai, with three of New Zealand's most distinguished actors: Rawiri Paratene as Koro, Vicky Haughton as Nanny Flowers and Cliff Curtis as Porourangi, Pai's father. Adapted by Niki Caro from the much-loved, best-selling 1986 book by Witi Ihimaera, the first Maori novelist to be published in New Zealand, WHALE RIDER was shot entirely in Whangara, a coastal village on the east cost of New Zealand's North Island. In the film, Pai, a 12-year-old girl, dares to challenge the ancient traditions of her people, despite opposition from her grandfather, Koro, chief of their village.
Set in the present, WHALE RIDER re-interprets a 1,000-year-old legend about Paikea, the founder of the Ngati Konohi, a native tribe of New Zealand. They believe Paikea arrived in their village on the back of a whale after his canoe capsized.
Who will become the Ngati Konohi's leader after Koro? By tradition, it should be the eldest son. A crisis occurs when the hereditary male child dies at birth, survived by his twin sister, whom their father names Paikea. The name should be given only to a male, and the fiercely traditional Koro immediately shortens the girl's name to Pai.
I left a post #229 in Non-fiction for you about the PBS program on the Erie Canal.
Penny for your thoughts? "
You can keep your penny. If I hadn't been told this story was about Maoris in New Zealand, I wouldn't have known. The feeling I continually get about the setting is that it is a remote location near the sea, perhaps in the Southern Hemisphere because it is mid-year and it is cold. Perhaps an island, but that's not really spelled out. But it could just as easily be a remote Inuit village in Alaska. The town where Joe and Simon live is not too distant, but small, one where everyone knows everyone's business (and also judges them.) I find the use of the Maori language to be overdone, and it does little to express the Maori culture.
I find the lack of sympathy for Simon and his situation appalling. To be sure, the "at risk" phrase is a fairly recent one (my kids might have been so designated 25-30 years ago, but we didn't know that then, so they were considered normal), but good grief, here's a child who has lost his family and everything familiar and is mute to boot. Of course he's difficult and acts strange and has problems and wants lots of love and attention. But none of the characters seem to take the into consideration. That seems unreal.
I had been reluctant to say this until you did, but I think
we readers have been inundated with the author's feelings about
abuse... "hitting the reader over the head" is right.
My appreciation for the book began to wan with the repetition.
I hope in the upcoming section we will discuss other topics.
This is not to minimize the horror of child abuse, but enough is enough.
The problem of domestic abuse is universal, and I think our
the positive aspects of the New Zealand culture is being lost in the author's emphasis
on the unpleasant and frightening story of the life of this child.
She dreamed that night she was sitting in front of a table, its
edges defined by shadows. There were cards on the table, but they
had nothing on them. She picked them up ... where is the message? ...
And at once brightly coloured pictures appeared ...
The author's use of dreams and daydreams is incredible! What do you think they mean?
Actually, then Keri would have said: I want the readers to be confused!
But I value the book as an insight into the NZ culture about which I had been quite ignorant.
Ginny, you asked what if the culture were (not) "Maori ... instead (was) American Navaho Indians" but I ask why that choice? The Navaho's were inland people, not linked to the sea as the Maori, right? Doesn't that make a very great cultural difference?
Were you thinking, perhaps, of the problem with alcoholism the American Indians are known to have?
I believe that has turned out to be a genetic predisposition.
And may I note, regarding the Kite Runner: "like" is not my choice of how I feel about it. It taught me a lot, but the unpleasant parts of the book stick with me too much for "like" and that is, obviously, happening with Bone People, too.
What is causing all the anger in Joe? What is causing all the anger in anyone who nearly beats a child to death?
We have had several deaths or comas happen here in Columbus, in the last year. Why?
I think parenting(which should be called education) and anger management classes should be taught in all schools from K thru 12. Another good course taught in some schools is called conflict resolution. This would seem to be a course that most of us could use and what better place than schools?
It helped me to read Ginny's post. I thought I was the only one who found the book's violence to be so severe. Usually I review in order to enhance my comments, but I cannot stand to reread the sections where Joe is so violent.
I would not suggest anyone I love should read this book, as some parts really gave me nightmares.
Now I think I understand, Ginny, about your comment on American Indians. Perhaps, you were trying to defuse any anti-New Zealand sentiment, right?
I think of the Maori culture as sea-linked, not just Kerewin loving the sea. Am I wrong in remembering their ancestry to be Polynesian? or similarly sea-faring?
The Bone People was originally produced and published in February, 1984 , in New Zealand (reprinted May 1984) by a SPIRAL collective ..."
The Publisher's Note in my library hardcover says that
"The Pegasus Prize for Literature has been established by Mobil Corporation to introduce American readers to distinguished work from countries whose literature too rarely receives international recognition. in the case of New Zealand, the literature of the Maori people was singled out for this recognition. The Prize for Maori Literature was awarded to The Bone People, by Keri Hulme, in July, 1984 ..."
And Deems, while skipping around reading, I wondered too if they were all dead.
I'm into the last part, but haven't finished it yet. Many of you speak of the trinity aspects. Both Kevin and Joan K spoke of Simon as a Christ figure, the way he was first seen standing in the window, with the thorn in his foot, being reborn to save Joe and Kerewin -- and I think also because of his enduring love no matter how badly he was treated.
Question No. 1 asks if this is a tragedy. Who is the tragic figure and why?
Many of you can no doubt explain it well, but I needed help. One definition-- Tragedy occurs when a noble person makes poor choices and causes pain and suffering to those near and dear to him. That could certainly be Joe. I hesitate to call him noble, but he thought he was doing the right thing. One could say Simon made poor choices also, but I'm not so sure on that.
More later, but I must get to the end of your posts. I was here this morning, and now there are 30 more. YOu guys are something.
I'm not attacking any myths or culture, but it just didn't seem right to bring this guy in at the last minute.
"Instead, Keri Hulme takes a different path and provides (mitigating) "explanations" in the form of separate journeys of each of the characters, where much (but not all) of their un-written-about past is revealed. Alas, this valiant attempt is not altogether successful. . . . ...... . . . I quite understand, I think, that the author had lofty aims well beyond the three main characters, who became archetypes, prototypes, exemplars, and meant to show the very real possibility of redemption, reconciliation and hope eternal --- with implications not only for NZ but the whole world. "
Your comments help explain why Hulme blended the very real story of the relationships of the three characters and the horrible abuse of Simon with the mythical aspects of the book, especially the ending.
And while it didn't make me LIKE this book anymore, the comments below did help me understand its purpose.
She describes her story as a deliberate attempt to manufacture New Zealand myth, to blend real and invented Maori legends with European literary style, harmonizing both of her country's cultural influences'" (Contemporary Literary Criticism 158)
"By emphasizing their reliance on hands, though, Hulme shows the difficulty that three outsiders have in communicating—even among themselves." (From Deep South)