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17 November 2008

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"Flower Garden", "Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors" and "Colloquy"
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TadMack

The only military in my family on my mother's side, anyway, is Navy, and so the whole sailor thing isn't quite as understandable, except for the phrase "A Girl in Every Port." Sailors are allegedly notoriously ...friendly. I'd certainly say that all of my uncles always have tons of girlfriends and friends all over, but it's the 50's version of this that she must be dealing with. Interesting.

Leila

Well, yeah. And I remember the sailors being in town one night out in Boston and they were... friendly. But not scary. Not like these ladies made them out to be, anyway. But, different time, different place. And I do think that it was more that the sailors represented a threat than actually were a threat. Or something.

Kelly Fineman

"Sailors" were a replacement for, say, Vikings, or marauders. They were a threat to virginity and "nice girl" status, metaphorically. But yeah, weird when read today.

I should go back to your Dickens posts for this, but I'll tell you here: S (15 and reading A Tale of Two Cities for Honors English) really liked your posts.

Leila

Yeah, that was how I read it -- I'm not usually that great at metaphor as I'm pretty literal minded -- but it did make me wonder...

Heidi

I could see that bit about sailors, even though they had sailors in their own family.

Here in Portland, Oregon we have both those myths surrounding our Rose Festival which includes glorification of the ships and sailors coming in.

A dark feminist thread is that the prostitutes must work way over time, an average of (some number physically impossible unless they take 6 at a time) tricks a day. A dark gold-digger thread is that young women come to the Rose Festival specifically to find a sailor to hook up with and trick into marriage.

I think both those threads are myths that may have the tiniest bit of truth as their seed, but are so overblown because of the distorted view of sex. And they could have as seeds such myths as these that go way back and have been passed from mother to daughter.

gailg

I felt "Flower Garden" was one of the most successful of these short stories, in terms of what I've read a short story should be. The protagonist is changed by the action of the story. She gives up what she craves, a relationship with the woman who is living in the house she always wanted, a relationship beyond the family she married into, for the sake of conforming to the community. She gives up her chance at something more in life because she can't live separately from the community.

As a writer, I tend to be interested in those little slice of life stories, which I've never been able to sell. Reading all Jackson's tiny little slice of life things and then this real short story really illustrates the difference between the two types of writing.

Looking back, I think "Charles" is probably a more complete story than the others in that we can assume the parents' perception of their child must change as a result of what happens in the story.

"Dorothy and My Grandmother, Sailors, Whatever"--This almost read as memoir to me. I wondered about Jackson's childhood. The scene with the girls in the theater reminded me of my mother who told me I shouldn't go to movies by myself because Helen Markowski went to the movies by herself back in 1949 or thereabouts and a strange man sat down next to her. Plus, I had no problem at all with the concerns about the sailors. Come on! Aren't those guys legendary? "The fleet's in?"

I think "Colloquy" is more like a scene than a short story.

Patti

For some reason, when I read "Dorothy and My Grandmother and Sailors" I thought of Lydia Bennett and her obsession about the militia... and look what happened to her. Let that be a warning to young women who associate with sailors. LOL

But seriously, I got kind of peeved when the grandmother just made them afraid instead of making them smart. I'm so glad that I'm living now instead of back then.

I think "Colloquy" would make a great play.

OolooKitty

Yes, I remember hearing fearful things about sailors, including the old expression "spending money like a drunken sailor" which my grandmother used to say. There was definitely a legend about the chaos that would ensue when the fleet came in.

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