Septemb-Eyre: Post #4 (chps 30-end)

WARNING! This post has spoilers for those who have not read the entire book.

First of all, can we all just sit and enjoy Thug Notes’ summary and analysis of Jane Eyre? We’ll all be better and happier people because of it:

 

Ok. Back to my post. Well I’ll call this re-read of Jane Eyre a success. It held up for me, and I can still say it’s one of my favorite books. Maybe I should start re-reading it each September? 🙂

This last section of chapters where Jane is at Moor House really dragged for me on my first read. I remember really hating this section. This time, I didn’t dislike it nearly as much. Of course, I couldn’t wait for her to get back to Thornfield and Rochester, but I did get a lot more out of her time spent with St. John, Mary, and Diana this time around.

First, I want to look at good ‘ol St. John. He drove me nuts. He was so well-intentioined but that’s about as far as it went. He was judgmental and the master of the guilt trip! I think he and Rochester are kind of mirror images to each other. One is quite handsome, the other is a bit ummm…not handsome. One treats Jane with unbridled passion and wants to dress her up like a doll while the other treats Jane with cool indifference and wants to use her as a tool to further his career/calling. One wanted Jane to abandon her morals in order to prove her love and be with him and the other wanted her to abandon love in order to prove she is moral and upright and be with him.

The differences in their proposals is interesting too. I had a good time looking at the nature that surrounded Jane and her suitor for each proposal. I think Bronte used nature a lot in this book for imagery and symbolism (as mentioned in Thug Notes in the video I posted above) :). Rochester and Jane were in a garden for his proposal, and I (being a bit of a prude) got a bit squeamish in the descriptions of nature leading up to the proposal. It all seemed so sensual…at the very least very hide-and-seek/Secret Garden kind of thing. Jane smells the scent of Rochester’s cigar and wants to hide. The scent of that cigar wafts through the air through the garden with a “winding walk” that is “bordered with laurels.” These descriptions give a hypnotic, relaxed, secret feeling to the reader as Rochester’s very scent leads us through this garden. Then the flowers are described as “yielding their evening sacrifice of incense” but the scent they yield was not strong enough to overcome Rochester’s own strong cigar scent…the flowers yielded their scent to Rochester. Oh, my! Meanwhile, while Rochester’s strong scent is overpowering all the other scents, Jane says she sees “trees laden with ripening fruit.” This sentence juxtaposing a virginal Jane by ripening fruit….uh Charlotte???

Meanwhile, the nature surrounding St. John’s proposal gave more imagery of being trapped in. The nature encloses and stifles them. “The hills, meantime, shut us quite in”. This is a symbol for the sort of marriage that is being proposed: one that will hem Jane into a loveless union. There is farther imagery making the landscape seem barren and without beauty, much like their love would have been.

In the end, Jane and Rochester are reunited. Rochester’s wife died while burning down Thornfield and Rochester was maimed and blinded in the process. Jane became a wealthy, independent woman thanks to her dead uncle’s bequeathal. Their fortunes have somewhat flipped. Rochester is now the dependent one and Jane the one to be able to bless, aid, and give. But at the same time, Jane still wanted to know that Rochester loved her; she still wanted to be with him and be in his presence. They have finally become more equal. Their marriage wasn’t possible when she was wholly dependent and he was totally powerful. Now Jane has her own money and is the eyes of the relationship, and they are both the heart.

“Looking for Alaska” by John Green

imagesI read this book in observance of Banned Book Week. According to this list posted on the American Library Association’s web site, Looking for Alaska (the 2006 winner of the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature) is the #7 most challenged book of 2012 for having offensive language, being sexually explicit, and being inappropriate for the age group.

I. loved. this. book. I devoured it over the weekend (but am just now getting around to writing about it). It tells the story of Miles who goes to a boarding school his junior year. He makes fast friends with his roommate the Colonel and a girl named Alaska. When a tragedy hits the group of friends, the book explores dealing with loss, guilt, and finding a way to continue living on. It’s incredibly touching. The characters all deal with very deep issues related to dealing with tragedy and guilt that I find to be realistic and relatable. This is a hard book to write about without giving away any spoilers, so I’ll have to be vague and not go into any more detail.

It’s too bad so many people have tried to take this book off the shelves in schools and public libraries. This is a book that if my daughter came home with it, I’d be perfectly fine with it. I might even want to talk to her about the issues of loss and tragedy and see what she thinks about the way the characters deal and continue living. Sure there is explicit language and sexual situations and booze and cigarettes. The book takes place in a high school. The language is certainly nothing worse than I remember hearing in high school and neither is the talk of sex or the “sex scene.” I put quotes around that because, really, it’s not much of a scene at all. I wouldn’t be worried about this book corrupting my daughter. Hopefully I will have already talked with her about these kinds of issues and let her know where I stand and what I expect from her before she reads this book. Sure I wouldn’t be too happy if she came home with it at like age 10, but it’s a book meant for teens. This book is perfectly fine for teens. The way the book deals with loss and pain and life in general is so much more important than the language and underage drinking and should cloud all the other day-to-day scenes in the book.

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Oh my goodness. I LOVE me some David Sedaris! Have you ever seen him live? If not, go find a ticket NOW!

Anyhoo. His new book is awesome. It’s a book of “Essays, Etc.” (the “etc.” being monologues he wrote for high school forensics members. They. are. awesome.)

He’s in true form here with his autobiographical essays. They are hilarious and touching. These essays cover everything from his first colonoscopy, musings while in line at an airport, being American overseas during the 2008 presidential election, feeling trapped in childhood, foreign travel and learning the language, and oh so much more.

“Loggerheads” was, for me, the most touching of all the more serious essays. In it, Sedaris uses baby sea turtles that he and his friend captured then didn’t care for appropriately as foils/metaphors for he and his friend’s struggles in childhood and just waiting, hoping, to break through the glass trapping them with the dream that there is “something better, perhaps even majestic, waiting for us to grow into it.” Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a super-soft spot for those baby sea turtles that risk their lives just to get to the water and so few of them make it and die before they can live and it breaks my heart…but, truly, the symbolism of those trapped turtles and the little boys trying to break into adulthood is a truly touching and appropriate way to show the struggles of growing up.

On the lighter side, “Author, Author” was laugh out loud funny (and not the only one that was in this book, btw). It follows him from start to finish on a book tour. The opening scene of him shopping for gifts for his readers with his brother-in-law was hi-lar-i-ous. I’ve heard a recording of Sedaris reading this one live, and that only made the reading experience even richer and more fabulous.

Go out and READ it!!!