Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

by Brian Selznick

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Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby Liz » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:21 am

What do you think about the attitude of the author toward thievery?
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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby trygirl » Mon Jul 26, 2010 11:51 am

The position is one of acceptance. The characters are happy to steal when it helps their purpose. Hugo does it for survival, but also for parts needed to repair the automaton, and Isabelle steals the necklace because she likes it. Both characters know that it's wrong. The author makes the kids amoral when they steal.
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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:11 pm

Part of Hugo's thievery was to survive ... he needed to eat. I was surprised to find myself on his side and not feeling bad about him stealing things since he really had no other way to get what he needed. A bit of a lapse in my code.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby Buster » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:03 pm

Georges says, (in relation to Hugo's thievery) :
"You can't steal something that you already own, now, can you? That machine is his. We'll figure out how to repay you, madame, for the milk and the croissants."

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:36 pm

Yes, a good idea to think of this in terms of the message to a child. That said, nothing is black and white and children need to understand that. For centuries our storytellers, oral and in book, have told wonderful and yet also harsh tales of suffering, struggle, rebirth and all the rest. Go back to the Bible. Not all pretty and not all good or right, but necessary to make us whole.

I personally think the best stories make us grow inside, in the heart, and not always quickly. They sort of unfold in us over time. So here, what might initially surprize the child reader is absorbed and pondered over, the final lesson being there are times that 'stealing' is an appropriate if difficult option.
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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby fansmom » Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:54 pm

Page 142: He tried not to steal anything he thought people needed . . . Sometimes he allowed himself to steal fresh bottles of milk or pastries when they were left outside the café early in the morning, as his uncle had shown him.

Something to think about: He was taught to steal by his uncle, but in spite of that, he had his own moral code.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:50 am

Great answers all around.

I had a hard time with what appeared to be Selznick's blasé attitude toward stealing. It wasn't just stealing but also, sneaking into the movies to avoid having to pay. Although I softened by the end of the story, it still bothered me that impressionable children would be reading this and could potentially get the feeling that these things were OK.

I understood that Hugo had no choice. And thanks for pointing out that he had his own moral code, fansmom. He was also doing his uncle's job. If only he could have been able to cash all of the paychecks. He was in a tough spot and needed to survive.

Isabelle, on the other hand, had no excuse.

I suppose it shows, as Fireflydances pointed out, that life is not black and white, and this book put that message across.
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 #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Jul 27, 2010 11:26 am

Great answers and a nice segue into today's question... :cool:
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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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:04 pm

I too had a problem with the authors' light view of thievery, stealing and sneaking into movies. Being written as a children's book - this bothered me. Of course we were pulling for Hugo and in his circumstance he had to find food and stay hidden. But Isabelle could have lived without the necklace. Why did he include that in the story - with no remorse for Isabelle. Interesting twist for us to ponder. :grin:

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Re: Hugo Cabret Question #15 ~ Thievery

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:57 pm

It didn't bother me as much as some of you because I didn't feel it was done in a malicious way. He knew it was wrong but did it to survive and felt remorse. I would hope that comes through to a young reader.
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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