Heredity angle

Discuss the September 2015 book of the month Defending Jacob by William Landay
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Heredity angle

Post by gali » 20 Sep 2015, 21:45

What did you think about the "murder" gene?

I don't believe in it and thought it was crap (pardon the language).
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 20 Sep 2015, 23:19

I did too (think if was crap). I haven't read the whole book yet, but I get the gist. Legally, you can't try someone for murder based on an inherited proclivity toward violence. The book appears to be inaccurate in that regard. You can only try someone for murder based on evidence (of the murder), behavior, witness testimony, etc.

I sense that the dysfunction (in general) has less to do with genes/genetics and more to do with the fact that the family doesn't know how to communicate. The narrator thinks he's really smart, but he's not seeing what's right in front of him--his family. It's as if he's blind to his limitations. Kinda arrogant.

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Post by gali » 20 Sep 2015, 23:20

zeldas_lullaby wrote:I did too (think if was crap). I haven't read the whole book yet, but I get the gist. Legally, you can't try someone for murder based on an inherited proclivity toward violence. The book appears to be inaccurate in that regard. You can only try someone for murder based on evidence (of the murder), behavior, witness testimony, etc.

I sense that the dysfunction (in general) has less to do with genes/genetics and more to do with the fact that the family doesn't know how to communicate. The narrator thinks he's really smart, but he's not seeing what's right in front of him--his family. It's as if he's blind to his limitations. Kinda arrogant.
I agree and think the same.
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 zeldas_lullaby » 20 Sep 2015, 23:24

Thanks! I don't think that makes it a bad book, though; it's realistic in its dysfunction. The author has a keen mind for messed-up family dynamics. The issue I'm having is that I want it to get there already. How does it end?? Time will tell. :P

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Post by gali » 20 Sep 2015, 23:26

zeldas_lullaby wrote:Thanks! I don't think that makes it a bad book, though; it's realistic in its dysfunction. The author has a keen mind for messed-up family dynamics. The issue I'm having is that I want it to get there already. How does it end?? Time will tell. :P
The ending will surprise you. :)
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 zeldas_lullaby » 20 Sep 2015, 23:29

That's good to know! I'll post back! :-)

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Post by ashley_claire » 21 Sep 2015, 16:20

Agree 100% about it being crap. All the attention that was paid to heredity as being a genuine factor towards Jacobs guilt made me roll my eyes.

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Post by gali » 21 Sep 2015, 23:18

ashley_claire wrote:Agree 100% about it being crap. All the attention that was paid to heredity as being a genuine factor towards Jacobs guilt made me roll my eyes.
Likewise! 8)
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 bookowlie » 24 Sep 2015, 09:19

I don't know what I think about the heredity angle. However, I did find that part of the book to be a little draggy.
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Post by lmmallia » 24 Sep 2015, 22:26

I felt this part of the book dragged as well.

I didn't really buy the whole heredity angle either. Doesn't Andy kind of dispel this theory anways with the way he lived his life by not following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather? I also thought it was kind of strange that it seemed almost as if Laurie did blame Andy's genes to some extent for Jacob's behavior. This was never blatantly said in the novel but it was kind of implied throughout the novel like when she told him she had a right to know where he came from before she married him. What does that really matter? It's not like his father or his grandfather were a part of his life as he was growing up where they could have influenced him and again he had never acted or shown any of the violent traits of his ancestors. I agree, Andy should have told her about his past but I can understand why he was embarrassed.

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Post by gali » 24 Sep 2015, 22:34

lmmallia wrote:I felt this part of the book dragged as well.

I didn't really buy the whole heredity angle either. Doesn't Andy kind of dispel this theory anways with the way he lived his life by not following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather? I also thought it was kind of strange that it seemed almost as if Laurie did blame Andy's genes to some extent for Jacob's behavior. This was never blatantly said in the novel but it was kind of implied throughout the novel like when she told him she had a right to know where he came from before she married him. What does that really matter? It's not like his father or his grandfather were a part of his life as he was growing up where they could have influenced him and again he had never acted or shown any of the violent traits of his ancestors. I agree, Andy should have told her about his past but I can understand why he was embarrassed.
I agree and thought the same.
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 quadbrookie » 25 Sep 2015, 13:21

Overall, I just think it is amazing how advanced science has become. They can pick out just one strand in your genetics that can show one trait passed down generations. I found it interesting in the beginning but, then my eyes started to glaze over as it was dragging down the book.

I do have to say that the author tried to put too many new angles on things which left me glazed over many times!

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Post by Artiste8 » 08 Oct 2015, 13:32

I don't believe in the Murder gene

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Post by hsimone » 08 Oct 2015, 21:07

I also don't believe in "murder gene". I believe mental illness can be passed down, but not the desire to murder someone.
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Post by Scott » 09 Oct 2015, 08:38

This book reminded me a lot of We Need to Talk about Kevin, especially in that it played on the nature versus nurture argument.

I do believe that there could very likely be a genetic predisposition to psychopathy, "the murder gene."

I think the author meant to show that the father also had "the murder gene". In real life, it is known that there are many psychopaths who do not kill or torture people. The father's focus on his career and seeming difficulty empathizing with his wife suggests he had the same tendencies. That also explains why the father was so able to break the rules and basically hurt other people indirectly to help his son. In real life, most psychopaths are successful at their careers, not killers.

With that said, something I very much enjoy about this book (like many well-written novels) is that I do not the book intends to answer the question. Instead, the story asks questions rather than preaching answers to them.
"That virtue we appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess." - Henry David Thoreau

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