WEGG Question #25 ~ Saying Goodbye to Momma

by Peter Hedges

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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WEGG Question #25 ~ Saying Goodbye to Momma

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:21 am

Pg. 313 Amy says, “You think we could all just sit here for a while? Just sit together?”

Why do the siblings initially react to Momma’s death as they do, almost with celebration? What do you think of their ultimate decision to burn the house?
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 -
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:11 am

They swopped stories and played music she liked I think it was nice for them. Not sure there was anything strange about it or significent that I can think of right now.
I think they made the right decision to burn the house, as final closure on that part of their life and helps them to move on.

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Unread postby Bix » Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:44 am

I think the Grape children held the perfect wake for their mother. They played music she liked and looked at pictures of her life and shared their memories. Gilbert even says that even though she was angry and fat, she was their mother and there is a trace of her in each of them. "And we knew in some weird way that she wasn't gone, she had just moved into us and now it was time for us to move on." I think they celebrated that thought with their dancing and beer drinking. Then they all kissed her and told her their private goodbyes. I would wish my family to hold a gathering just like this for themselves when I die.

The decision to burn the house was brilliant. They had the death certificate from the doctor, so there would be no problem with proving Momma was really dead. At least Gilbert and Larry really hated the house itself and we know it wasn't in the best repair. And what Gilbert and Amy had realized about the circus atmosphere trying to get the body out of the upstairs was true. They had each chosen the things they wanted to carry with them into their new lives. It was perfect.

I think the Grape kids finally became a true family that night.
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Unread postby Endora » Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:09 am

Bix, I agree about the burning the house decision, to avoid the circus that would have happened. Did they become a family? Not sure about that one. I thought they all got the confidence to act a little more out of self interest now that Momma was gone. But maybe sharing a decision made them more of a family. This point bothers me because I can't quite see why being a family should be held as the holy grail it appears to Gilbert.

And the fire certainly solved the funeral problem. After what Gilbert had been told went on at the funeral home by his friend, and knowing how his mother had left her chuirch after the suicide, a funeral would have been a tough option.
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Unread postby SamIam » Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:34 am

I think they reacted the way they did because they wanted to remember the positive things about their mother because she was their mom. They didn't want to think about what she had become but that she was their mom. They wanted to celebrate that even in her death. They didn't want to make a mockery of her anymore so it was definitely the right decision to burn the house down. They wanted to cleanse themselves of the idea that she was a joke. They wanted to remember her as their mother and not as a joke.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:00 pm

I found it to be a positive as well. I think it freed them from the past and allowed them to remember their mother in a positive way. A funeral would have been incredibly painful!
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 Betty Sue » Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:13 pm

I agree with the excellent reasons given for why the Grapes celebrated as they did and that it was a good thing to burn down the house. Now the school is gone, the house is gone, Momma is gone....time to make some better memories! And I think it did bring them together as a family. That was definitely the warm feeling I got at the end of the book. When people have been through hell together and then joined together in one momentous conclusion, I think they are automatically rather bonded for life (such as soldiers who have gone through combat together). As they watched the fire, Gilbert took his hands out of his pockets and "I put one on Larry's shoulder and the other squeezes Ellen's arm." Something was making him feel much closer to these two than before. :cloud9:
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Unread postby gemini » Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:29 pm

I agreee with Betty Sue, their mothers death and the concern for her not becoming a spectacle brought the siblings together in a way they had not been before. They all realized that they were all what was left of momma and together they decided to do this for her. All of their lives were centered around the strength of sticking together against criticism of their family from outsiders and they decided that the outside world did not have a place in their last farewell to momma.
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Unread postby suec » Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:34 pm

I loved the decision to burn the house. It was a mausoleum for them, a symbol of decay, broken dreams, and a dysfunctional family. I guess Gilbert learnt from the burning of the school, how it can be therapeutic and cleansing. He also has insights into the traditional funeral and burial: not just his friend's revelation, but attending Mr Carver's funeral, and of course peeing on the grave.
I loved it that he took the lead. He has become the man of the house now, directing both brothers, in some ways. And he really does become that shimmering knight here, properly protective. He becomes reconciled and says his goodbye. What I also loved was the bit where he's talking to Momma under his breath and Amy asks who he's talking to. "Nobody," I say. Just like his Momma talking to his father. So, she has passed into them, just as he thinks. I think the agreement amongst the family members is great too.
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Unread postby Endora » Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:38 pm

It's interesting that the quote about "let's sit here for a while" comes from Amy, who because she was the youngest was least able to remember what Momma had once been. She must have never really known Momma as normal, yet she's the one that starts the reminicences.
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Unread postby gemini » Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:41 pm

Endora wrote:It's interesting that the quote about "let's sit here for a while" comes from Amy, who because she was the youngest was least able to remember what Momma had once been. She must have never really known Momma as normal, yet she's the one that starts the reminicences.


I agree Endora but I think you meant Ellen. I get those two names confused too. I caught myself in another post saying Amy for Ellen.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:51 pm

Gemini and Endora, I was contstantly getting those two names confused. :eyebrow:

Thanks for shedding some insight into the celebration for me, Noodlemantras. I really couldn't relate to it, being that I come from a long line of major mourners. I had been thinking it was just nervousness and indecisiveness as to how to proceed at that point. But I like your takes on it much better.

I also have to admit that I thought burning down the house seemed unrealistic from a survival standpoint. They certainly weren't going to get any insurance money for it. On the other hand, if it was in such poor shape that they would have to level it anyway, it was probably cheaper to burn it. As far as the solution for Momma, though, it was the perfect idea.

Do you think there was a connection between the burning of the school and the burning of the house?

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Unread postby gemini » Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:04 pm

Liz wrote:
Do you think there was a connection between the burning of the school and the burning of the house?

I don't know if there was any connection except it may have spurred the idea in Gilberts mind.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Unread postby Endora » Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:12 pm

gemini wrote:
Endora wrote:It's interesting that the quote about "let's sit here for a while" comes from Amy, who because she was the youngest was least able to remember what Momma had once been. She must have never really known Momma as normal, yet she's the one that starts the reminicences.


I agree Endora but I think you meant Ellen. I get those two names confused too. I caught myself in another post saying Amy for Ellen.


Not just me then, sorry. I need to re-read.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Apr 26, 2007 4:39 pm

Fire seems to be used frequently in the story. Doesn't Becky also burn something in Gilbert's yard? Fire can be used as a symbol of purification or purging. Are there other examples in the story? I can't remember off the top of my head.
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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