WEGG Question #14 - Bonnie Grape

by Peter Hedges

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suec
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Unread postby suec » Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:39 pm

It isolated them in the community. When Bonnie hears the sermon in the church about suicide, and stages the walk-out, that shuts down one avenue of support. But I doubt that there would have been that much support anyway. I agree with gemini here. This is a community only too ready to speculate that Mrs Betty Carver killed her husband. I suspect they'd have been only too ready to speculate about the reasons for the suicide, and that would include Bonnie. Their way of offering support over her weight-gain is to send her some diet books - anonymously - with love. Yeah, right! Bonnie contributes herself to the isolation, shutting herself away and pushing people away. She still talks to him, so he's a real presence in the house still, in some ways.
Ellen is mad at him - hurt - for not sticking around to even see her born. Gilbert has a real burden, looking so like him, and having a similar name, even. Mr Lamson tells him, if he sounds any more hopeful, he'll begin to think he's talking to the ghost of his father. That makes me wonder if maybe his father worked in that store too, with him. And although he says he doesn't remember much about him - he remembers enough. He says he carries Arnie to bed like his father did with him. And there's a really poignant moment when he dreams that Arnie is clean and he is fishing with his dad, and it is "just fine". It's left him with some hangups - not wearing a tie; and his obsession with fake smiles, because his dad had been all smiley on the day of his death. I think Gilbert misses his dad the most out of the children, partly because he has had to step up to that role, and partly because he is so like him in some ways. It's ironic really - it should maybe have been a bond between him and his mother, something to have in common.
It's awful enough that he killed himself, but in a way worse that the family don't know why.
Gilbert speculates that: " I've often thought that my dad killed himself because he could see the future. They say he was the most hopeful man ever. He was apparently a constant supporter, compliment giver, and always had a kind word for everyone." I think all of that giving was too much, in the end.
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:59 pm

suec wrote: It's awful enough that he killed himself, but in a way worse that the family don't know why.
Gilbert speculates that: " I've often thought that my dad killed himself because he could see the future. They say he was the most hopeful man ever. He was apparently a constant supporter, compliment giver, and always had a kind word for everyone." I think all of that giving was too much, in the end.


Did I not read somewhere in the book that Albert also didn't show much emotion? (or was that the movie?) I thought it was said that he never got mad, never showed happiness, nothing. So I’m thinking that between being an optimist and holding back his emotions, that he was holding a lot inside, and it finally got to him--whatever that was that broke the camel's back.
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Unread postby stroch » Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:04 pm

It seems as if Mama has turned inward, and sees nothing anymore. She is focused on the TV, which provides a soundtrack she can ignore, and also use to ignore her family and herself. She is focused on food, which fills A LOT of time, and on her children filling her needs.

When people become ill, or old, or emotionally exhausted, it is not uncommon to shut down awareness. It is a protective device, a form of self-preservation.

Think how much she must despise her looks, how she sees disgust and mockery in everyone's eyes, and how alone she is. It is easy to understand why she has a narrow focus.

Whatever her relationship with her husband was, he abandoned his wife and children, and she must be still angry with him.
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Unread postby gemini » Sun Apr 15, 2007 8:15 pm

Bix and suec, You really do notice all the details. Bix I had forgot Gilbert was so set on getting home during recess that day to check on his dad.

And suec, I needed to be reminded about the town suspecting Mrs Carver of killing her husband and the anonymous taunting of Bonnie, but it does bring up how they react in that type of situation.

As for DITHOTs question about the repercussions on the family, it seems the whole story is how they all try to cope in a bad situation. I do agree with suec that Gilbert seems to be affected the most besides Bonnnie. The older siblings escaped the situation and return as little as possible and Amy has resolved to try to hold the family together while Ellen resents she never got to be the baby with Arnie in the family.

And stroch I agree, Momma shutting out the world is self preservation.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:07 pm

There seems to be so much unresolved and unspoken anger over the death on everyone's part and they take it out on each other. With everyone comparing Gilbert to his father he had to have worried if he would end up like him, maybe a reason for his helplessness.
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:47 pm

Society abandoned Bonnie Grape, so Bonnie Grape abandoned society. Within the four walls of “her” house, her family, her creation, was the one thing she could control without judgment. Or, at least that’s what she deluded herself into believing. She could not control Albert, or the “good” citizens of Endora, but she could manipulate her children. It takes a lot to break the unconditional love of family, and she selfishly took advantage of that fact.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:00 am

Liz wrote:
suec wrote: It's awful enough that he killed himself, but in a way worse that the family don't know why.
Gilbert speculates that: " I've often thought that my dad killed himself because he could see the future. They say he was the most hopeful man ever. He was apparently a constant supporter, compliment giver, and always had a kind word for everyone." I think all of that giving was too much, in the end.


Did I not read somewhere in the book that Albert also didn't show much emotion? (or was that the movie?) I thought it was said that he never got mad, never showed happiness, nothing. So I’m thinking that between being an optimist and holding back his emotions, that he was holding a lot inside, and it finally got to him--whatever that was that broke the camel's back.


I think that was near the end of his life but I think its was from the movie not the book. I'm sure in the book Gilbert talks about his father always laughing and playing with him. I'll see if I can find it.
I may have remembered it wrong all I could find is that the day he died Gilbert was worried because his father seemed happy.
But I did find on page 49
They say he was the most hopeful man ever.He was apparently a constant supporter, compliment giver, and always had a kind word for everyone.
and
Amy says you could count on him to smile even after the hardest, longest of days.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:23 am

Wasn't there also a compplimentary quote from Mr. Lamson about Albert or am I confusing the book and movie?
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:51 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Wasn't there also a compplimentary quote from Mr. Lamson about Albert or am I confusing the book and movie?

I'm pretty sure there was but didn't come across it in a quick scan this morning. But I did notice Amy's quote that he was "loyal to a fault." It made me think how everyone considered him a really great guy with a wonderful attitude. It seems he kept his problems hidden so that when he got depressed (perhaps because of Arnie's birth in August) and killed himself, no one could understand it. He just didn't seem the type. Just as they say divorce is easier on the kids if they see it coming and understand something was wrong, suicide is probably easier to accept if you can see it coming and understand it was inevitable. Just a thought...
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:59 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Wasn't there also a compplimentary quote from Mr. Lamson about Albert or am I confusing the book and movie?


There's this one when he is asking about the lobsters at Foodland Gilbert tries to reassure him
and Mr Lamsdon says
"You sound anymore hoeful, Gilbert, I'll begin to think I'm talking to the ghost of your father." page 86

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:29 am

Betty Sue wrote:
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Wasn't there also a compplimentary quote from Mr. Lamson about Albert or am I confusing the book and movie?

I'm pretty sure there was but didn't come across it in a quick scan this morning. But I did notice Amy's quote that he was "loyal to a fault." It made me think how everyone considered him a really great guy with a wonderful attitude. It seems he kept his problems hidden so that when he got depressed (perhaps because of Arnie's birth in August) and killed himself, no one could understand it. He just didn't seem the type. Just as they say divorce is easier on the kids if they see it coming and understand something was wrong, suicide is probably easier to accept if you can see it coming and understand it was inevitable. Just a thought...


I think suicide is always a shock. But if there are no signs that anything is wrong and with no suicide note, I think it must be even worse.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:30 am

dharma_bum wrote:Society abandoned Bonnie Grape, so Bonnie Grape abandoned society. Within the four walls of “her” house, her family, her creation, was the one thing she could control without judgment.


Very good point, Db! :cool: I hadn't thought of it that way.
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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Unread postby Liz » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:31 am

Gilbert's Girl wrote:
Liz wrote:
suec wrote: It's awful enough that he killed himself, but in a way worse that the family don't know why.
Gilbert speculates that: " I've often thought that my dad killed himself because he could see the future. They say he was the most hopeful man ever. He was apparently a constant supporter, compliment giver, and always had a kind word for everyone." I think all of that giving was too much, in the end.


Did I not read somewhere in the book that Albert also didn't show much emotion? (or was that the movie?) I thought it was said that he never got mad, never showed happiness, nothing. So I’m thinking that between being an optimist and holding back his emotions, that he was holding a lot inside, and it finally got to him--whatever that was that broke the camel's back.


I think that was near the end of his life but I think its was from the movie not the book. I'm sure in the book Gilbert talks about his father always laughing and playing with him. I'll see if I can find it.
I may have remembered it wrong all I could find is that the day he died Gilbert was worried because his father seemed happy.
But I did find on page 49
They say he was the most hopeful man ever.He was apparently a constant supporter, compliment giver, and always had a kind word for everyone.
and
Amy says you could count on him to smile even after the hardest, longest of days.


Thanks GG. I think I'm remembering it in the movie now.
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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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:19 am

Maybe his death is meant to be a mystery to the reader because it was a mystery to the family. They might have accepted it and been able to move on, as much as anyone can, if they had known he was depressed and unhappy. If it was a total shock then it seems that would have caused a different set of emotions and reactions.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:45 am

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Maybe his death is meant to be a mystery to the reader because it was a mystery to the family. They might have accepted it and been able to move on, as much as anyone can, if they had known he was depressed and unhappy. If it was a total shock then it seems that would have caused a different set of emotions and reactions.


This is probably it. Gilbert does say something about he thought his father killed himself because he could see the future, this was just before the passage I wrote above on what he was like, and the passage before that was basically about global warming and how it was effecting everyone becasue they hadn't had any rain etc.


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