Monday, March 2, 2009

In Conclusion

Obviously, it has not be easy for us to bring the Hannah Coulter book club to an end.

I will start us off, if that is okay.

In Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Educated Mind, Susan says that "almost every novel is structured around these basic questions";

What does the central character want?
What is standing in his/her way?
And what strategy does he/she pursue in order to overcome this block?

Is this true of Hannah Coulter? What does Hannah want?


I would also be curious to know what you thought of the last chapter of the book.

Is it a dream, a memory, or is Hannah meeting her beloved in heaven?

Personally, I think Hannah is just drifting off, remembering. Almost a dream before sleep.

What do you think?



  1. *He looks at me with a look I know*

    This phrase took me back to much earlier in the book when Hannah and Nathan are getting to know one another; and she describes his presence. And how it makes her feel *present* And she's little afraid to look back and meet his gaze.

    Just an example of Berry's fine writing skills that make his novel so readable. As far as the final chapter being a dream, a memory, or a heavenly connection?


    All of the above :)

  2. Thank both you, Donna, and Lynn for being such delightful hostesses. I have really enjoyed this book club.

    Awaiting pick-up at the library? another Wendell Berry novel for me :)

  3. Back to say that I've been mulling over the WTM book report questions and I'm thinking that Hannah Coulter is more like a *memoir* not an ordinary novel with resolving plot.

    In elementary school my girls always had to conclude book reports by highlighting a Christian character trait in the main character.

    In this case, I'd award Hannah *loyalty*---

    remaining true and faithful to those whom God has called her to serve. John 15:13

  4. Thank you for sharing your insights, Dana!

    I like your book report question.

    I think Hannah wanted a peaceful, bucolic life.
    She wanted to create her nest on the land.

    Her heartbreak was that her children didn't share the same vision.
    What was most important to her was not important to them.

    She is not able to overcome this problem.
    We can not give our desires to our children.
    But Virgie is her hope that her beloved way of life will continue.

    It troubles me that she was a critic of her children and not a mother who wanted them to live out their own loves and joys and dreams.

    Once they showed that they were not going to live exactly like she had, she is pretty much done with them.

    I do not want to be like this.
    I want to let my children make their own choices AND be excited and happy for them.

  5. The last chapter completely puzzled me.

    Is it Hannah's experience of dying? I like your idea of drifting off into a dream, Donna.

    When my mother-in-law read this and gave it back to me, she quivered out, "the last chapter" all choked up. She who seldom cries.

    I distinctly remember reading this (I was the first of our circle of friends) and being frustrated that I couldn't discuss that last chapter with anyone. What did it mean?

    And now? It doesn't seem to matter. Perhaps Dana nailed your question with "yes."

    Donna, I don't see Hannah rejecting her kids as much as I see her sadness because their lack of commonality has separated them.

    Could she do more to promote a relationship with them? Of course. When you love a child, you choose to love what he or she loves (as much as is possible). And isn't there stuff about M.B. that she can't love in all honesty?

    But there is as much culpability on the children's part, in my mind. "They have little confidence that I can understand their lives, and they don't tell me much."

    My son in Seattle works for Boeing and I truly couldn't tell you what he did. But I keep trying to find a phrase or sentence that describes it. And, thankfully, he hasn't shut me out because I don't understand.

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