Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged?

Discuss the January 2015 book of the month. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.
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Scott
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Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged?

Post by Scott » 12 Jan 2015, 22:21

The following is a discussion question from the publisher for the January 2015 book of the month, "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey.

Why are Jack and Mabel emotionally estranged from each other in the beginning of the novel, and how are they able to overcome that?

I don't like some of the questions issued by publishers issue Sometimes they seem like the question you'd get on a 7th grade book exam simply to make sure you read it. Anyway, let's give it go... :) I think it's more than clear Jack and Mabel are emotionally estranged because they are both depressed over losing the baby. Moreover, each handled it in romantically destructive ways rather than by emotionally supporting each other.

They overcome it during a slow process of getting better at supporting each other during times of loss or turmoil.

What do you think?
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

"Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco." Virgil, The Aeneid

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Post by gali » 13 Jan 2015, 08:01

I agree with you and I don't like some of the questions as well.. :wink:

You summed it well. I found it a pity that they grew apart instead of comforting each other.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by Fran » 13 Jan 2015, 10:21

I though it was not an unusual response to the loss of a child - they are both skirting around the issue afraid of upsetting the other and in the process inadvertently isolating both of them. I think it is common for people who do not know what to say in this situation and are afraid if they talk about the child or their loss they will upset the other person who, they think, just wants to get on with life and the last think they need is reminding of their loss.
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Post by HoneyB » 14 Jan 2015, 20:57

Jack and Mabel lack communication with each other. The child they lost crushed them both and instead of leaning on one another to get through it, they divided in their despair. I was pleased to read how they held and comforted each other in the end. Seems they learned from before and aren't they same couple as in the beginning. They're stronger and much closer.
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Post by KristineNicole » 19 Jan 2015, 18:46

I think they are estranged mostly from the loss of the baby and the move to Alaska. I think they overcome it by spending time with Faina and surrounding themselves with good people.

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Post by Miss_Jane2014 » 20 Jan 2015, 22:17

Losing a baby is hard, compound that with not communicating and moving to a harsh and strange land compared to what they were used to, it's a recipe for estrangement. I really don't think that you can remain emotionally close with someone without adequate communication, especially on the heels of such a tremendous loss.

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Post by TammyO » 21 Jan 2015, 00:44

I agree. Losing a child can be hard for both men and women. Unfortunately, more times than not, couples often grow apart after losing a baby because they don't communicate. Jack and Mabel did not communicate with each other instead, they chose to deal with their own emotions separately; this is why they were emotionally estranged from each other after their loss. This should be a life lesson for everyone; especially those who face similar tragedies.
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Post by Norma_Rudolph » 22 Jan 2015, 17:44

I'm reminded of the movie The Accidental Tourist where the couple lost a child. In that case as well it was matter of them not communicating their feelings to each other. Like in The Snow Child they each held it in and suffered alone. At least in this book, they came back together in the end, partly because of the experience with the wild girl.

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Post by Lilapo9 » 03 Feb 2015, 21:41

I believe that I can concur with many that the cause of Jack and Mabel's estrangement is due to their own individual responses to grief. Each is grieving in their own way and in dealing with it the best way they can alone it isn't until Faina enters the scene that they actually start to work together to get through things. Grief is a tricky (for lack of better description) animal. It can isolate and at the same time put on an amazing show of strength to bystanders. Also each individual's upbringing will have a bit to do with how they handle things as well.

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Post by Valrose » 03 Feb 2015, 23:23

I absolutely agree that grief put a major wedge in their marriage, but I wonder if that is the only answer? There are other points of discontent that drive them apart. One area that resonats with me is the division of labor between them. Mabel wanted to work outside with Jack, but he always refused. It wasn't until his accident that Mabel started working the land and began to feel connected to their life.

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Post by Lilapo9 » 04 Feb 2015, 06:10

The division of labor could have resulted from Jack trying to protect Mabel from her inability to handle grief. He may have misinterpreted her delicateness in dealing with grief to another areas of their life too. Husbands sometimes feel duty bound to protect their wives in the best way that they can.

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Post by Valrose » 04 Feb 2015, 12:53

I totally agree with Lilapo9's interpretation about the division of labor, but what I am thinking is that we don't know much about Jack and Mabel's relationship before the loss of their child. It's a small, but I feel important point about this particular fictional relationship and all relationships. Thank you so much for your feedback.

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Post by Lilapo9 » 04 Feb 2015, 19:27

Miss_Jane2014 wrote:Losing a baby is hard, compound that with not communicating and moving to a harsh and strange land compared to what they were used to, it's a recipe for estrangement. I really don't think that you can remain emotionally close with someone without adequate communication, especially on the heels of such a tremendous loss.
I can agree with this, because we can definitely see that communication is a big issue for these two. More than once I read that instead of talking to each other they would just let the other have their space. Too much space can create walls that can't be broken down very easily.

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Post by Jenie » 06 Feb 2015, 23:26

I cannot imagine what it feels like to lose a child, but at the very least it must be devastating. I guess they both wanted to grieve in their own way. There was also the issue of communication, they didn't seem so keen on talking to each other. It felt so cold at times between them, as cold as the wilderness they just moved to.
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Post by Kappy » 16 Feb 2015, 15:28

Mabel appears to be someone who would constantly complain regardless of the circumstances. Her philosophy appears to be the opposite of Zarathustra's "good thoughts, good words, good deeds." Mabel nearly always manages to find the bleak side of everything.

I'm not convinced they really overcome the problem; Jack inexplicably allows himself to be pushed around by Mabel, who finally mellows somewhat when she is allowed to control Little Jack's upbringing. She always wants to be in charge.
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