Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

by Brian Selznick

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Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:14 am

Let’s talk about the characters. First up, Hugo.

Image
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: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby Boo-Radley » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:16 pm

Good afternoon Lizbaba. :wave: WoW, Hugo....well, first off I remember feeling afraid/concern for him as the circumstances of his life began to unfold (I guess that was the mother in me :grin: ). Later, I was impressed by his resourcefulness at being able to fool everyone at the train station into thinking that his uncle was still tending the clocks; but of course you knew that eventually his world would shatter.

I see Hugo as a particularly bright child, who was trying to manage a very grown up set of circumstances on his own. I imagine it would be very scary to be his age and not have enough to eat or decent clothes to wear, and yet feel unable to ask for help for fear of something awful happening. To always be alone and hating it while at the same time fearing discovery at every turn; that would be daunting for an adult, but for a child it would be horrendous. So you can understand why he had to believe that if only he could repair the automaton that somehow his father would be able to get a message to him that would change everything for the better.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:38 pm

Very good answer, Boo!

I can't say I particularly felt a motherly fear for a little boy. Because of the way the story was told, I think I looked at circumstances more from Hugo's viewpoint. He seemed capable and resourceful beyond his years, really.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby IngridN » Thu Jul 15, 2010 2:26 pm

Hugo is a very brave, intelligent and talented boy, and the automaton was the only connection left with his father.
He managed to survive because of his belief that, if he could repair the automaton, it would write a message left by his father that would tell him how to continue with his life.
Of course he was also lucky to meet the right people.
"We are always the same age inside." Gertrude Stein

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:35 pm

I felt anxious for him. As Boobaba said he had a lot to handle! He was very intelligent, resourceful and of course lucky. He didn't want to let go of that connection to his father and the automaton really did guide him to a place and to the people he needed to find. As an adult, you don't know how a book meant for a younger audience will read but I definitely connected with Hugo and was cheering him on!
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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby lizbet » Thu Jul 15, 2010 4:28 pm

As much as we've seen that Mr. Selznick is doing something new the way he has presented The Invention of Hugo Cabret - the story itself is part of a long tradition of stories about children on their own / with absent parents. This is the first time in reading such a story however that I actually feel a character's (Hugo's) profound / immense sense of loneliness. Alone in the midst of a sea of all those people coming and going through the train station every day.

The author makes Hugo's "invention or reinvention" of himself as well as the 'invention' of his mechanical man dependant upon Hugo being in relationship with others (Isabelle & her key & her ability to find his notebook) (Etienne & the coin from behind his eyepatch as well his access to the film library) (his own father & what he taught Hugo as well as left him in his notebook) (Papa George mostly needs to be "reinvented" himself inorder that Hugo have a place to call home though Hugo needs the mechanical parts from his shop & later Papa George himself with his know how).

In a story like Narnia, there is never any doubt that the siblings would work together in the absence of their parents but with Hugo he tries so hard to keep everyone away from him and his 'secrets' that we are never sure that he won't keep on being lonely / alone especially if the station inspector catches up with him and he is sent to an orphange. I'm so glad Hugo's secrets are shared and that his purpose is found and that he becomes Professor H. Alcofristos with a family and friends!
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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby ladylinn » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:52 pm

Hugo must have had a wonderful close relationship with his father. When Hugo's uncle took charge of him it must have been very difficult to adjust to his uncle's way of life. After uncle's death, Hugo was strong and inventive enough to carry on. He was brave, intellegent and determind to carry out his quest to find the message from his father. I cheered him on throughout the story. He certainly helped Papa George find a reason to live.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:49 pm

I, too, view Hugo as very wise and resourceful beyond his years, as Nebraska and others have pointed out. That was my initial impression of him. I was amazed at what he could do (like work the clocks) but knew that his days at this game were numbered.

But I worried about him, as a mother would….even knowing that in the end it would most likely be all good (because this is a children’s story).

I was very frustrated by the fact that all of those checks for his labors were sitting there, unable to be cashed because he wasn’t his uncle. And I knew that once they found him out, that he would be replaced by an adult. And then what would happen to him?
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: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:50 pm

As Lizbet said, there's that long tradition of orphaned children in literature (from Cinderella to Jane Eyre to Little Orphan Annie to Harry Potter). A woman I know said that if she went by what she read, she'd think the only way to make her daughter a confident woman would be for the mom to die--and she wasn't ready to make that sacrifice!

As a mother, I didn't worry much about Hugo; since I knew it was a book designed for children, I thought he'd have to adopt some kind of family and live happily ever after.

I love that illustration of him. I think I gasped when I turned the page and there he was. What is that look in his eye? Worry? Yearning? Defiance?

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:53 pm

How funny that Liz's second paragraph and mine--posted a minute apart, so I hadn't read hers--are so similar!

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:00 pm

fansmom wrote:How funny that Liz's second paragraph and mine--posted a minute apart, so I hadn't read hers--are so similar!

Are you really surprised, fansmom? I'm not. :lol: Chalk it up to another TZ moment between us.
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: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:41 pm

Lizbet: very thought provoking comments, really enjoyed them and it opened up my own thinking about the character.

I guess what is most wonderful is that Hugo is a character any child dealing with a difficult issue can recognize and be comforted by. Kids in pain are so lost and just finding someone who is dealing with trauma and loss and confusion -- that alone is empowering. Add on top, a successful fighter who finds the way through even if many times his course was in doubt. Imagine yourself in the mind of a child, perhaps you never say anything to anyone about the lesson you come away with, put into your pocket so to speak, but nonetheless the book has been a powerful friend to you.

Like a fairytale, yes -- those deeply resonating stories told over and over for countless generations. Deep lessons to hold close.

And if I can go back to the black and white again, the fact that there is 'no color' is somehow even more wonderful for the imagination, just enough of a picture to set the mind going. Black and white anything when you come down to it -- well, it's sort of freeing I guess.
"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: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby gemini » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:10 pm

I felt worried or maybe compassionate for a little boy so young loosing every adult around him. He truly missed his father and his love of the automaton was his way of dealing with his loss. I knew he was a very intelligent little boy but being alone was what made me hopeful of him finding a new life. I knew he was resourceful enough to get by but felt relieved when he met Isabelle and started helping out at Papa George’s. It made me wonder given that I felt that way, how a child reader would respond to his being alone. It seems that his life might be a bit scary for children before he finds some friends.
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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby Buster » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:23 pm

In general, I'm not a big fan of precocious children as protagonists. However, the way Hugo was introduced, gradually coming into focus in the illustrations, caught my attention and then the mystery itself took over.
At first, Hugo's almost supernatural ability with mechanical objects grated a bit - as a child, I took apart everything I could lay my hands on, and believe me, most of them were never the same.
One very positive thing about Hugo - his fascination with machinery really sparked the kid I first read the book with, so we investigated clock and watch innards together. Good fun.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #4 ~ Hugo

Unread postby fansmom » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:51 pm

Buster wrote:as a child, I took apart everything I could lay my hands on, and believe me, most of them were never the same.
:harhar:


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