House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

by Woody Guthrie

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House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:30 pm

And Ella May would laugh. She always laughed. She laughed in a way that was easy for her. She laughed best, most times, when the crops, the winds, the debts, the worries, the fears and doubts of the world splashed their highest. This laugh was not a laugh that made fun of a slim lady for being slim, a fat lady for being fat, or an ugly person for being ugly, it was not a laugh of this kind, not for the kind that makes fun of you because you are you. It came across her face, in her throat, from her stomach, her whole body at the same time, and she had a way of doing it in such an easy manner that the whole county just called it "Ella May's laugh." (pgs. 56-57)

What did you think of Ella May? (Again, please try to keep the discussion on Ella as much as you possibly can.)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:29 am

I think Ella May was a much more interesting character funnily enough or at least she had more potential to be so. She seemed to be the hard working one, the realist.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:15 am

I liked her. She was gentle and kind and she seemed to have the ability to see the best in everyone and her depressing situation. But even though she seemed soft and easy, her handling of the secret stash of money showed there was a very strong woman beneath that exterior.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:47 am

nebraska wrote:I liked her. She was gentle and kind and she seemed to have the ability to see the best in everyone and her depressing situation. But even though she seemed soft and easy, her handling of the secret stash of money showed there was a very strong woman beneath that exterior.

:highfive:

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby ladylinn » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:31 am

I too liked Ella May. I admired her strength and sense of humor. She always seemed to be able to look at the bright side even when their plight was dire. She loved Tike completely but hidden underneath was her fight to make life better for them and their offspring. She seemed focused on the future while Tike was satisfied with their life as long as he had his Ella May.
A very interesting character in the story.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby Liz » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:29 pm

Ella May was indeed painted as a very strong character. She had a strength of purpose. She was a realist, as GG said – about her situation, about men, about politics. But that didn’t keep her from trying to improve her situation.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:28 pm

I agree with everyone else on Ella, she's the one with the guts and drive. She's the leader in this family, although Tike may not always be prepared to state that. (I bet he knows it in his deepest heart though.)

Funny thing is though, I am not sure that Ella actually recognizes her power. She always doing things and directing other things to happen. Because they are necessary, which is the reason that many women do things and end up being in charge although they don't outright think it or say it, and might even deny it. Women are grounded, aren't we? We get on with the show. Maybe it's being a mom that makes us this way, and because we are mentally prepared from our earliest days to give of ourselves to others, not grandly but simply because it's necessary.

And I think guys know that. I think Tike knows. It's in his lovemaking.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:36 am

fireflydances wrote:I agree with everyone else on Ella, she's the one with the guts and drive. She's the leader in this family, although Tike may not always be prepared to state that. (I bet he knows it in his deepest heart though.)

Funny thing is though, I am not sure that Ella actually recognizes her power. She always doing things and directing other things to happen. Because they are necessary, which is the reason that many women do things and end up being in charge although they don't outright think it or say it, and might even deny it.Women are grounded, aren't we? We get on with the show. Maybe it's being a mom that makes us this way, and because we are mentally prepared from our earliest days to give of ourselves to others, not grandly but simply because it's necessary.

And I think guys know that. I think Tike knows. It's in his lovemaking.

I'd agree with that.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby Liz » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:39 pm

I don’t like to generalize, but I think there are some gender tendencies here. Men tend to focus on results. Women focus on the details needed to get the results.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby Buster » Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:21 pm

There's a scene early in the book that revealed Ella May's depths. It starts on p. 16, where she is questioning why it has to be such a dog-eat-dog world, and then she comes out with "We're to blame, because we taught them to steal....We let them. We let them think they could cheat us because we are just plain old common everyday people."
That kind of introspective self-knowledge, said in such a simple way, made her a very compelling character. It's easy for me to imagine her being based on a real person - her quick shifts between amused tolerance and frustration with Tike and their circumstances rings very true. It's the kind of reaction that happens when you are doing the best you can in adverse conditions, trying to make the best of it all, but constantly aware that it could all fall to bits any minute.
I think Ella May is a genuine optimist, believing that against the odds, it will all work out.

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Re: House of Earth Question #8: Ella May

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:06 pm

Buster wrote:There's a scene early in the book that revealed Ella May's depths. It starts on p. 16, where she is questioning why it has to be such a dog-eat-dog world, and then she comes out with "We're to blame, because we taught them to steal....We let them. We let them think they could cheat us because we are just plain old common everyday people."
That kind of introspective self-knowledge, said in such a simple way, made her a very compelling character. It's easy for me to imagine her being based on a real person - her quick shifts between amused tolerance and frustration with Tike and their circumstances rings very true. It's the kind of reaction that happens when you are doing the best you can in adverse conditions, trying to make the best of it all, but constantly aware that it could all fall to bits any minute.
I think Ella May is a genuine optimist, believing that against the odds, it will all work out.

I completely agree with your analysis! I also think she was very principle-centered. Her family was wealthy and she could have chosen to live comfortably, but instead she denounced her father and the “tricks” he used to take folks’ farms away from them. That wonderful rant of hers in on p 62-63. The fact that she chose the life of a poor farmer’s wife rather than going along with the family business (she did keep his books for 6 years before deciding to leave) I think speaks volumes about her personality and her value system.


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