Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Jane Eyre Read-Along: Chapter 8

Finally, finally, light enters the story.  Whew!

Which is not to say that everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows for the rest of the book.  There will be more unhappiness, I'm afraid -- of such is drama made.  Stories where everything goes well are boring, right?  (I need to remember that more often in my own writing.  My inclination is to make things easy and happy for my characters, but then there's no real story!)  Still, it's nice that the unremittingly awful part of her childhood has passed.

Anyway, chapter eight begins dismally enough, with Jane face-down on the floor, crying, feeling "crushed and trodden on" (p. 82).  But in comes Helen Burns with food and cheer (and coffee).  Jane doesn't want the food, but she is overjoyed to learn that most of the people at Lowood don't like or respect Mr. Brocklehurst and are not inclined to believe him.  What comfort!

And then Miss Temple takes both girls to her own quarters which look, if you can believe it, cheerful!  Something cheerful within Lowood!  There is hope for the future.  In fact, after some nice food and listening to Miss Temple and Helen Burns talk intelligently about things, Jane even gets a hug!  By the end of the chapter, she says, "I would not now have exchanged Lowood, with all its privations, for Gateshead and its daily luxuries" (p. 89).  What a difference some friends, the approval of her teachers, and the discovery of a talent for artwork have made!

Favorite Lines:

Then her soul sat on her lips, and language flowed, from what source I cannot tell (p. 87).

...they spoke of books; how many they had read!  What stores of knowledge they possessed! (p. 88).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Jane says, "if others don't love me, I would rather die than live -- I cannot bear to be solitary and hated."  Do you agree with Helen that Jane thinks "too much of the love of human beings" (p. 83)?

Jane feared having Mr. Brocklehurst denounce her as a liar because she thought it would make her classmates and teachers despise her.  Instead, it has the opposite effect.  Does this strike you as being realistic or overly convenient?

15 comments:

  1. I think Jane learns a great deal from Helen, namely that the love of human beings isn't the "be all and end all." The grown-up Jane is such an independent, affect-less person. She never acts to impress or gain popularity. Ironically, it is those traits that make her (and anyone for that matter) attractive to others.

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    1. Lucy, you're so right. It's something I think we all have to work on learning, huh?

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  2. I think Jane had a life long (so far!) experience that adults like Mrs. Reed are cruel and false AND they influence the children around them to be the same. Jane doesn't know many of the girls yet, perhaps none but Helen. The response to Brocklehurst's bad-mouthing is perfectly understandable - the teachers and pupils had more than enough time to learn what a scoundrel he is.

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    1. Kelda, I agree -- I would have freaked out like Jane. Why would anyone believe a little girl they barely know versus a grownup who is in charge of this whole school? Having the opposite occur is delightful.

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  3. While I think we can all mind too much what others say, think or feel about us, the fact remains that God made us to be social creatures. We desire and need relationships with others. We need to always realize though that our source of joy and comfort and fellowship comes from God. I recently made a very good friend. In fact, from the moment we met we knew we were best friends, and time has proven this to be true. At the beginning of it all I can see how God worked things out for us to meet. He knew we each needed a friend.
    I think it is very realistic that nobody in the school would take Brocklehurst's statement about Jane to heart. I think they all have his number.
    I love how Miss Temple asks to hear Jane's side. How often have you been accused of something false and not been allowed to give your side? It is such a relief when you can. I kind of feel that Miss Temple sees it as part of her mission while at Lowood to try to counter all that brings despair there. I wonder how many times she found an excuse to bring some little soul to her room that had reached the end of what they could bear and with some seed cake and kind words gave them courage to go on another day.

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    1. Jennifer, yes! It is not good for us to be alone, and God definitely gives us friends, spouses, and family. Eventually, Jane chooses to be solitary and possibly hated rather than with the man she loves under ungodly circumstances, and I think Helen's remonstrance here helped her learn that doing so would NOT kill her.

      Yes, blatant hypocrites fool no one but themselves. I love that everyone there sees through Brocklehurst.

      Miss Temple asking to hear Jane's side is so exactly the opposite of what happened to her before, when she was punished for defending herself against John Reed and never allowed to explain. It makes me so happy!

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    2. Amen! I agree wholeheartedly with both of you, and each of you has put your thoughts so beautifully. Hearing the side of the accused is ever so important! Hooray for Miss Temple!

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  4. Miss Temple is so nice. :) It's fun to see the influence both she and Helen had on Jane, helping to shape her into the woman she is later in the story.
    I think it quite natural that the girls like her despite--or because of--Mr. Brocklehursts' false accusations. If he had praised her, I'm sure she would have had such horrid treatment from the other girls!

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    1. Natalie, she really is. In some ways, I strive to be more like Miss Temple, who genuinely cares for those in her care as people.

      And yeah, I imagine Jane would probably have starved to death if she'd been perceived as Brocklehurst's pet -- everyone would have demanded she share even more of her food, shunned her, and so on.

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  5. In a way, yes, I agree with Helen that being so set on love and approval of other people does not help you forward. But really, Jane is just 10 and has hardly had love and approval at all in her life so far. So it's very understandable!

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    1. Birdie, yes, I think that Helen is a bit more mature than most girls because of her illness. And Jane is emotionally stunted because of her awful upbringing (or lack thereof, really). So I understand them both!

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  6. Again, we are kindred spirits! Your quotations are two of my favorites. I loved this chapter. I know that dreariness and unhappiness must be in a story in order to appreciate the goodness and brightness that can enter a character's life; however, enough is enough for right now. Jane NEEDS, indeed DESERVES some happiness.

    Everyone needs a teacher like Miss Temple at some time in his or her educational life. I was blessed to have such teachers, and I'm sure that their treatment of me was, in part, what made me become a teacher. I loved being on the other side of the desk, so to speak, and to be able to encourage students when they thought all was lost.

    I agree with both Jane and Helen. Jane is a "people pleaser," and so am I. Though I know that I should feel the way Helen does, I am devastated when I think that I have disappointed someone. I have never felt hated, as Jane indicates, but I surely have worried when I've felt (and that's an important word because feelings aren't necessarily indicative of what really IS.) that I've hurt someone or let someone down, I definitely lose sleep. Strange for an old adult, huh?!

    I'm so happy that life is on the upswing for Jane, at least for a while!

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    1. Sandy, what fun! I always love noting down favorite lines to share during the read-alongs.

      I'm more sensitive to the feeling that I have hurt someone else's feelings than I am about having my own hurt. Big part of my personality, wanting to protect and defend others, which translates to me really worrying about hurting others.

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  7. The picture of the cover you have in this post is of the edition I am reading from. :-)

    I also liked both of the quotes that you wrote down. That is why I like reading books. Even though I might not consciously remember what ideas came from what books, I know that my mind, thoughts, and ideas are affected by what I read. That is why I am trying to read more nonfiction books. If I am ever put into an unexpected situation, I can act with knowledge that I might have unconsciously learned from books. Everyone should read books!

    I do slightly agree with Helen that Jane relies too much on human companionship. Humans are meant to have companionship. They are meant to live with other humans, which is extremely natural and good. I do think though that one should also be dependent on God more than other humans. My mom would tell me when I felt lonely that everyone felt lonely, and people felt lonely because there is a place in a human's heart that only God can fill. This is why human beings are lonely. I think that Jane needs to find support and confidence in God and not expect her loneliness to go away just because she is surrounded by people. So I agree with Helen a little bit.

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    1. Ekaterina, that's cool! I've seen this version at the bookstore before -- so striking.

      Books are so amazing, aren't they? My dad always says, "Reading opens up a whole new word," and it's so true. They help keep us from growing narrow.

      Good point about Jane needing to learn to rely more on God and less on her fellow men.

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