Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 6

Yikes!  The water in their water pitchers was frozen in the morning.  Now, when I was a kid, we lived in Michigan, and I slept in the attic.  The nails on the walls would get frost on them overnight during the winter, so it was pretty nippy.  But that's nothing compared to frozen water.

And poor Helen Burns.  I'm afraid I'm much more of Jane Eyre's inclinations.  I want to strike out at injustice, not patiently endure it.  And yet, I know Helen is correct -- "It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you -- and besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil" (p. 67).  Like Jane, I find this unnatural... and yet, I know in my heart and head that Helen's way is more God-pleasing.

I love how Helen is saved from being a goody-two-shoes by having bad habits -- she's untidy and disorganized, which keeps her from being too saintlike.  

Favorite Lines:

"It is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear" (p. 68).

"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs" (p. 71).

Possible Discussion Question:

Helen Burns says that when Miss Temple teachers her, she is only good "in a passive way; I make no effort; I follow as inclination guides me.  There is no merit in such goodness" (p. 69).  Do you think being good when you want to be good is less moral than being good when you don't want to be?

12 comments:

  1. You and I must be kindred spirits. Helen's line about it being silly to say you can't bear what fate has required you to bear really stuck with me also. I think Helen is beyond her years in wisdom. I was well into adulthood before I accepted this. My youngest child was born with special needs. I railed to God, family and friends about it the first few years. While these railings were therapeutic, they didn't change anything. Now, I adore this child, and know she is part of God's plan for me. Life holds plenty of joy amidst hardships.

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    1. Blessings to you and your family :^)
      People,family and otherwise, were baffled and critical when I adopted 2 special needs daughters. (If you'd like to talk about our kids, we can probably exchange email addies thru a mutual friend. My older kid was institutionalized by her choice just after her 18th birthday. My younger one is in assisted living through MR/DD -DODD.)

      But back to Jane... I don't know exactly how to word this, so I hope it makes sense. Being good by nature or simply because you want to be in specific circumstances is a virtue. But being good *in spite* of these things takes up another step on the ladder, shows you are not just drifting in quiet waters.You're analyzing; you're weighing is this truly (religiously or philosophically) good? Otherwise,you are just being a Pollyanna.

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    2. Lucy, I re-read your post, and thought you would appreciate input from my first counselor, a wonderful, empathetic woman. We reached a point when she stopped charging me because I was helping HER, too. Her husband had SAD (which was my Dx at the time) and her younger son had severe level autism. After one rough week, she said, "You know that adage, God will never give you more than you can manage? Well -God has a (*) inflated opinion of me." We laughed a little & cried a little, and life went on.

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    3. Lucy, I agree -- Helen is preternaturally wise in some ways. I think that probably comes partly from her knowing her days were numbered, that she grew up while she could.

      Kelda, interesting point about analyzing situations and making decisions rather than reflexively "being good." I was just talking to a mom with several kids who said she wishes people wouldn't say things like, "Oh, your daughter is so good" around her kids, because the mom know it's not that the daughter is "good" and the son is "naughty," but just that her daughter is *quiet* and her son is not. So many people confuse compliance and being quiet with being good.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words and contributions to the read a-along.

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  3. I'm much more like Jane too...wanting to fight for what I perceive to be my rights. Helen's is the better way, but it certainly isn't the easier way.
    You asked a very thought-provoking question. I guess I have never viewed things as good, better, best or bad morals. I've just seen them as good or bad. I've thought about this, and I think I'm sticking with morals being either good or bad without degree. The effects of how we work out those morals may have degrees, but I don't think the morals themselves do.

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    1. Jennifer, I'm pretty black-and-white in my views too, but I think the reason we do the right thing does matter in some ways. The kid who picks up his toys because he wants to be helpful versus the kid who picks up his toys because his parents will yell at him if he doesn't, for example. Rather like Cain and Abel both bringing offerings to the Lord, but one did it out of thanks and one did it because he was supposed to.

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  4. I admire both Jane and Helen. My admiration for Jane comes from wishing I could be more like her. I have always found it very difficult to stick up for myself, even in adulthood. I would rather just take whatever is done or said, think about it for a bit (sometimes filling my head with "I should have saids"), then forgetting whatever it was that I was unhappy about. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's just the way I am. I hate confrontation in any form.

    I admire Helen for her goodness. Your second quotation from her is absolutely true: "Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs." I have something of that philosophy, though there are some wrongs that I can forgive but have trouble forgetting. I am a kindred spirit of Helen in her housekeeping. In fact, I have two little quotations displayed in my office: (1)"Those who are so proud of an orderly desk will never know the thrill of finding something they thought had been lost forever"; and (2)"I have a place for everything and everything all over the place." A couple of years ago, I cleaned my desk and found an unused $100 AmEx gift card.

    Chapter 6 is a sad one, but I love it. There's so much about the personalities of Jane, Helen, and Miss Temple, and I love them because of Charlotte Bronte's descriptions.

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    1. Sandy, I love those two quotations! I could use them both in my house too.

      I'm not a fan of confrontation, but if it's necessary, I will confront someone. I won't do it just to be belligerent or to pick fights, though.

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  5. I have lived in Arizona my entire life and have never experienced living in a place with snow, so I find frozen water horrifying. I feel so bad for the girls at Lowood.

    I also want to act like Jane and strike back at the people hurting me. I find though that I can endure a lot more harshness that is directed towards myself because I can then I can decide whether I want to let someone hurt me or not. I'm not sure if that makes sense to you, but what I'm trying to say is that I can usually decide to shrug off hurt directed towards myself, so that it doesn't bother me. Sometimes, though, I don't shrug off the hurt, and it usually ends with negative consequences. I usually act out if a friend is being hurt by someone else. It is usually in these situations, where I want to act like Jane.

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    1. Ekaterina, wow! I grew up with lots and lots of snow, so I kind of find deserts horrifying.

      I'm also much more protective of others than myself. I'm even more protective of fictional characters than mysefl, at times. So yes, some of that does make sense to me. I also can usually shrug off meanness directed at me unless it's from someone I care deeply about -- then it hurts for a very long time.

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    2. I feel the same way. I can shrug meanness off easily unless it is directed for someone close to me. That is why I am amazed at how much Jane can forgive later in the book.

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What do you think?

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)