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The following is a discussion question from the publisher for the January 2015 book of the month, "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey
. Please do not read this topic until you have finished the book because this topic may contain spoilers
What do you believe happened to Faina in the end? Who was she?
I think the author purposely left this open to interpretation. Faina could be some odd feral-like orphan who isn't magical or supernatural but who just happens to be very good at surviving in the wilderness. In that case, we must believe she either ran off to never return or she ran off to die and was not found. The alternative is that she really was a magic snow fairy of sorts. In that case, she presumably melted back into snow either as a result of spending too much time out of the snow or by giving her life force to her own child. What do you think? How did you interpret the ending?
"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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I think she was a mix of a "real" little girl and the spirit of the snow. I think she either melted or died from her illness. I certainly didn't like that ending, though it somehow fits.
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The ending was bittersweet. I'm picking a side and will say Faina melted into the snow. I think it's what Mabel believes because of the fairy tale book. I'm happy that the baby survived and that left something of Faina behind for Mabel, Jack, and Garret to focus on.
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I think Faina melted just as Mabel knew she would.
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I think she was a physical manifestation of Alaskan snow. She was never meant to be in the world of men. She melted with the birth of her child just as the snow melts with the spring.
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I am really not a fan of open ended novels, I just want to know what happened!
In my opinion though, I think Faina left to die by herself. It was sad and I wish she would have stayed around for her child and husband.
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I think that Faina sacrificed herself by having her son. She gave so much of herself that she had to return to her mystical snow world. I was struck by another thought as well. What if she was the daughter of the original Snow Child. In the story it is just her and her dad. He dies from drink and hypothermia. Did he give up because of his love for her mother knowing that he would one day lose her too? There are many questions left unanswered to this story. One can only speculate.
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I agree that she was a manifestation of the Alaskan snow & tundra, and was never a "real" person at all. She did indeed vanish, though I wouldn't be surprised if she returned, maybe even centuries later, to a new couple (not expecting a sequel. I just interpreted her as such!)
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Since it is up to interpretation. I do think she was a tiny winter sprite as a child but when after she became closer to Mabel, Jack, and Garret her sense of magic dissappeared ever so slowly. She was only able to last so long living a mortal life because she felt such a deep and passionate love for her new family, husband, and child. In the end, I think she realized that her body wasn't built for that sort of life and in her illness transferred her love and energy to her child and became the winter. I just cannot believe that Faina was ever quite human. I love the mystery of it because that's what makes the book what it is.
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I think at the end Faina had to return to where she came from. The only true place she belonged to. She was a snow child, she had given everything and done her best. It was past time for her to move on the next stage. I think she returned to the forest and took on her true form. It was a sad ending, but unfortunately there were no other choices for her. She is not truly a real person. She is a magical being, so it is only natural that after a while she will be forced to return.
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I think that Faina came to serve a purpose. When it was all said and done she melted and returned to wherever magical place she came from. She was after all only a magical being. That was one of the elements that I loved about this story: the fairy tale aspect of it.
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I don't see anything necessarily supernatural about the ending. Faina appeared to be someone born with special abilities perfectly suited to her environment, combined with an upbringing from a master of living in a harsh wilderness ... analogous to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose tremendous natural abilities were coupled with an education that maximized those abilities.
I believe she simply went back to her solitary life. Garrett's comments in the epilogue suggest he saw her again.
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After finishing the book, I described Faina as a fairy tale, and I think that she simply melted away into the snow, just as she appeared out of it. I'm not really sure how this fits in with the real child whose father died... it seemed kind of like in that instant, Faina somehow stopped being simply human, and became the snow child that they had built. It was all very mysterious and open to interpretation, but I liked it being that way.
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Faina's end was totally appropriate and fit the story perfectly. Kept the reader guessing. I thin Faina was living between two worlds and represented how pure and elegant humans can be. But, in the end the 'human' world was too much for her. Too real. It took away her ethereal beauty and caged her spirit finally suppressing it. I think she left to meet her end in what should have been the truth of her whole existence.
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As depressing as it is I feel that Faina ran off to die where she was away from everyone and where she felt more at home, much like cats are said to do. Though she become somewhat more tied to a physical home, she was still wild at heart and wanted to get back to that one last time.