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The Secret Garden: Chapters 13, 14 and 15

#59: Dec. - Jan. 2009 (Fiction)
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Chris OConnor
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The Secret Garden: Chapters 13, 14 and 15

The Secret Garden: Chapters 13, 14 and 15

Please use this thread for discussing Chapters 13, 14 and 15 of "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett. You may also create your own threads if you'd like to make comments that don't necessarily pertain to specific chapters.

Chapter 13 http://www.online-literature.com/burnet ... garden/13/

Chapter 14 http://www.online-literature.com/burnet ... garden/14/

Chapter 15 http://www.online-literature.com/burnet ... garden/15/
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Ophelia
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I've read up to chapter 14. It's a pleasant book.
I don't really have any comments, as everything seems so transparent, so I'll just write a few remarks.

Mr Craven is a stereotype, one of those many absentee upper-class British fathers and uncles in literature.
Martha and her family are almost too nice to be true. It seems that the good people in the book really Are good. Is this typical of children's literature?
You could almost say the author idealizes the poor: happy loving family, living in a very clean cottage. The daughter, Martha, is delighted to spend her one free day per month helping her mother with the washing and baking.
By the way, did servants really only have one day off per month? That's not what I remember from other books.
Anyway, it's not overdone, it doen't become irritating, and of course it's necessary for Mary's development.
Ophelia.
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realiz
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happy loving family, living in a very clean cottage.
I noticed a few times the emphasis on cleaniness . Martha's mom keeps a clean house, and Dickon is a clean boy. Goodness and cleaniness, neatness and tidiness. And Dickon is so good and the family is so happy despite having 14 of them living in one house. I've read this book before, my kids loved it, and I'll admit it does make me smile, but it also gets a little dull. There are no surprises here. Maybe I am becoming irritated, but it might be because reading it is bringing back memories of reading to my kids and making me miss them. Maybe it is just the day today.
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Robert Tulip
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realiz wrote:I noticed a few times the emphasis on cleaniness . Martha's mom keeps a clean house, and Dickon is a clean boy. Goodness and cleaniness, neatness and tidiness. And Dickon is so good and the family is so happy despite having 14 of them living in one house. I've read this book before, my kids loved it, and I'll admit it does make me smile, but it also gets a little dull. There are no surprises here. Maybe I am becoming irritated, but it might be because reading it is bringing back memories of reading to my kids and making me miss them. Maybe it is just the day today.
The book is not a narrative drama, with goodies and baddies, but an idealised didactic parable about natural theology. It is intrinsically dull, because it does not use the convention of the novel requiring dramatic plot. Rather, the unfolding drama is the connection between people and the cosmos. In pointing to this magical unity, Burnett is defining a path of salvation. She weaves these complex ideas into a pleasant tale of human redemption, seen in a rather Buddhist fashion of analysing and detaching from personal delusion, and using the knowledge gained to recognise freedom to create the future in accord with the natural law of love.
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giselle
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[quote="Robert TulipThe book is not a narrative drama, with goodies and baddies, but an idealised didactic parable about natural theology. [/quote]

So, if I choose to read this book as a narrative drama designed for the 9-12 year old reader (according to Indigo books), does this mean that I have missed the point of the book? who decides what that "point" is? perhaps my "point" is to entertain my kids ?
WildCityWoman
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The whole time I've been listening, Jeff has said 'it was a movie . . . it was a movie'.

And it was when I got the first image of Dickin, Colin and Mary in the garden that I remembered . . . oh yes . . . it was a movie.

Ha ha!

It's such a good story.
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Robert Tulip
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giselle wrote:So, if I choose to read this book as a narrative drama designed for the 9-12 year old reader (according to Indigo books), does this mean that I have missed the point of the book? who decides what that "point" is? perhaps my "point" is to entertain my kids ?
Hi Giselle, yes, I think that is right. Briefly, the 'narrative drama' barely scratches the surface of the purpose of the book, although kids can read it at this superficial level. I think many will find it dull if they are after excitement, as it has no protagonist/antagonist like in Harry Potter, but is intended to convey a message that human psychology separates us from nature and that we can bridge this chasm. Robert
Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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realiz
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although kids can read it at this superficial level. I think many will find it dull if they are after excitement
All my kids loved this book and I think that they get more out of it than the superficial level you speak of here even if they cannot define what it makes them feel. It is what makes good children's literature good, the different levels that can be introduced and begun to be understood by kids even before they have the ability to completely grasp these concepts.
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Well, that's what kids need - a point blank simple demonstration that good wins over bad.

Always be a good person . . . that's what the book is saying.

The uncle, the housekeeper . . . we start out seeing them as being possible 'bads'. But they're just people really.

The uncle is doing what he thinks he has to do . . . the housekeeper is doing what she thinks she has to do.

The kids will lead them into the light, I'm sure.
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My granddaughter is going to be 9 soon . . . already, she's an avid reader.

She reads books at a grade 8 level.

I'm wondering if this would be a good book for her.
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Robert Tulip
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realiz wrote:All my kids loved this book and I think that they get more out of it than the superficial level you speak of here even if they cannot define what it makes them feel. It is what makes good children's literature good, the different levels that can be introduced and begun to be understood by kids even before they have the ability to completely grasp these concepts.
What I meant was that The Secret Garden is not really a dramatic work, in the same sense as your earlier comment here that the book is rather dull without surprises. It depends whether you read mainly to learn or for entertainment. It is more beautiful and educational than gripping. I think it is great for kids to read as a parable that will help them think about harmony with nature. I thought Colin was going to be a ghost, and there is the background tension of Mary behaving in a transgressive way by entering the garden and developing a counter-culture mentality, with the question whether she will be ripped back into conformity. But these dramatic devices are so loaded, obviously designed just as vehicles to convey a spiritual message about natural magic.
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Oh, I never thought of that . . . she could have written Colin as a ghost, I suppose.

But the ghost was already there and Burnett did a marvelous job - brought her into the story without making too heavy an issue of her.
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realiz
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It depends whether you read mainly to learn or for entertainment. It is more beautiful and educational than gripping.
I would call the Secret Garden an entertaining 'feel good' book. It is not really all the deep, it doesn't make you think too much, you know where it is going and pretty much how it is going to get there. Everybody ends up becoming better people, everybodies happy, and we close the book with a smile.
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Penelope
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I think this book demonstrates very well, how we influence one another.

Little grumpy Mary - was influenced by Martha and Dickon - who had grown up in a large family, surrounded by love and affection.

Mary hadn't experienced love and affection but she was 'infected' by the natures of Martha and Dickon. The family may be sentimentalised, but none-the-less - love is infectious. This does happen.

Mary then went and infected Colin......love, I think, is just infectious.
Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini
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Thomas Hood
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Penelope wrote:Mary then went and infected Colin......love, I think, is just infectious.
Well, unfortunately anger, hatred, and depression are infectious too. Now, which spiritual force could be stronger? :) Milton seems to think they're almost balanced -- win some, lose some.
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