Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE READ ALONG: WEEK ONE

Week:  One


Pages:  1-60 (I'm reading this in hardcover; the Harcourt Brace Modern Classic version), through Chapter 9.


Thoughts:


I have read many difficult books so I'm not having a problem with that part of this book.  However, I am having problems actually connecting with the characters.  And Woolf's stream-of-consciousness technique is a bit hard to get used to.  That being said, I was able to make the following observations:

  • Mrs. Ramsey seems to be a sweet woman and a good mother to her children.  However, she is one of those women (common in that era) that puts her husband's needs above all others, including her own.  She pacifies and flatters him, tells him what he wants to hear, and tries to hide the ugly truths from him (such as the greenhouse needing a new roof and how costly the replacement will be).  There doesn't seem to be any independence in her, everything revolves around her husband.  It will be interesting to see if she changes at all during the course of the book.
  • Mr. Ramsey is just an ass.  Behaving in a negative fashion toward the children.  The children do not seem to be fond of him, as evidenced in this quote:"Had there been an axe handy, or a poker, any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father's breast and killed him, there and then, James would have seized it.  Such were the extremes of emotion that Mr. Ramsey excited in his children's breasts by his mere presence..."  Mr. Ramsey's main concern seems to be his fear of appearing a failure.  And he goes to his wife saying he's suffering, demanding her flattery and her praise.  He seems a man very weak of character and for his children to react in such ways toward him (at one point, the son is said to "hate the twitter and twang of his emotions"), he must not be much of a father either.  The "twitter and twang of emotions" leads me to suspect Mr. Ramsey of possibly having some type of bipolar disorder, but I'm no expert.  Again, I'm interested to see if there will be any evolution of this character.
  • I'm not getting much in the way of a story line so far.  I know that the family has eight children and they are staying at their summer house near a lighthouse.  They also have house guests staying with them.  And there is the issue of a trip to the lighthouse which doesn't seem to be in the cards at this point in the book.
I'm looking forward to continuing just to see where the story takes me.  I'm hoping it starts making more sense with a clear story line.

Are you reading along?  What did you think?

The To the Lighthouse Read Along at Unputdownables.


4 comments:

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  1. Michelle,
    I just finished reading this tonight for a group read over at GoodReads. It was...different. I did have a little trouble getting into it at times, partly due to those long, rambling (often two pages long) paragraphs. I sometimes had to go back and reread. And you're right, Mr Ramsey does seem possessed of a bipolar disposition.

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  2. I also am not relating to any specific character, but I have to wonder if Woolf wasn't trying to shine a light on the faults of these characters... They were, after all, modeled after her family (& I believe it was written after her parents had both died). Wonder if this was her way of saying what she really thought?

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  3. "Mr Ramsey is just an ass." Love it! It seems like all of the stories like this (The Awakening, The Yellow Wallpaper) have husbands that are asses. Were all men asses in this time?!

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  4. Heather--yeah, that's why it took me so long to read those 60 pages. I kept having to go back.

    Wallace--I was thinking that the whole time I was reading, if it was her expressing her opinions on her family that she couldn't before.

    Lisa--Uh, yes, I think they were! =O)

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