April 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm #2258Miss LindaGuest
This doesn’t have to just be limited to this book, but I thought it might fit best here.
In this book, a lot of people are making a lot of really important decisions, often quickly and under a lot of pressure. From the very beginning, this book is filled with choices and how the results of those choices play out.
How do each of the main characters make their decisions? When they face a tough spot and they don’t know what to do, how do they make their choices? What values or ideas guide them? How do they handle it when they don’t agree on what they should be doing?
What about you? What do you use to help you make your decisions? We all have had times when we have chosen well and times when we haven’t, but what are the things you have learned from those times that can help you (and maybe me!) make good decisions in the future?
There are lots of examples of decision-making in this book, and I will probably add some posts about specific examples that stood out to me and got me thinking. But I would love to have input from other people too, whether it is about the books or from your experiences.
April 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm #2259Miss LindaGuest
Right at the beginning of the book, Joe Shooster made a really big decision. “If the Fangs wanted Oskar, then Joe Shooster knew the right thing to do was to keep Oskar hidden. When the old man’s wounds were healed, Joe would figure out what to do next.” At first, that doesn’t really seem like a very significant choice. It probably wasn’t that hard to choose between the Fangs he hated and the friend he cared about.
On the other hand, many people in Glipwood hated Fangs and were friends with Oskar, but most of them would have chosen to ignore Oskar’s need for help if it put their own lives or the lives of their family members at risk. They routinely looked the other way while Fangs harassed people, they ignored Leeli’s screams and the Igiby children’s arrest, and no one even tried to stop the Black Carriage from taking people away. Joe was different. He knew that helping Oskar was dangerous, both for him and for his wife, but he still chose to do it anyway.
So many different things at work here… fear, care for a friend, love for his wife, dislike for the Fangs, grief at the loss of another friend that might have made him value Oskar more, and many other things. Ultimately, Joe chose to risk his own and Addie’s life in order to take care of Oskar, not because of something he thought it would gain him, but because he believed it was right.
Joe’s part of this book didn’t go so well. The next time we see him, he is unconscious and both he and his wife were being hauled away in the Black Carriage. I think that is unrelated to helping Oskar, but we don’t actually know what happened or why. Often if the result of a decision is not what I wanted, I start to question whether I made the right choice. But really, the “rightness” of Joe’s actions weren’t based on what the result was, it was based on something much deeper than that. It can be dangerous to evaluate decisions simply on the basis of whether we like or dislike the events that follow the choice. Sometimes doing what is right leads to some really painful results, but that doesn’t automatically mean that you chose incorrectly. It helps to remember that the story isn’t over yet and I cannot actually see the full results of my choices, any more than Joe knew what would result from his choice to help Oskar.
April 22, 2015 at 12:02 am #2273Miss LindaGuest
I found this quote from North! Or Be Eaten really interesting. This is what Podo said to the kids when it looked like they were trapped.
“Where do we go now?” Oskar asked.
“Nowhere,” said Podo with a deep sigh. “We stand and fight.” He drew his sword. “We fight, and we don’t give up until the water’s lapping at our toes, eh? If something terrible happens and us old codgers don’t make it through this, then you kids stay together, hear? Fight with yer teeth if you have to, but stay together. I don’t know what old Gnag has planned for you, but you just trust the Maker and… and do like your father would have you do. Do like me and yer ma would have you do. Don’t just follow your heart. Your heart will betray you.”
It is even more interesting if you remember that shortly before this, Podo actually suggested surrendering to the Fangs, rather than risking falling into the sea. Leeli is the one who convinced him to keep going and she did it by asking what Esben would have wanted them to do.
I suspect that Podo’s heart, and his fear, nearly caused him to betray both himself and the people he loved, and he was trying to make sure his grandchildren didn’t make the same mistakes.
Are there people in your life whose guidance and wisdom you can trust, even when you can’t trust yourself? Do you have something that can cloud your judgment, the way Podo’s fear did, that you have to guard against?
April 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm #2279Madame SidlerKeymaster
These are great thoughts, Miss Linda.
I have fear that clouds my judgment, too. And I have one very close friend who struggles with the same fears. We’re able to speak into each other’s hearts because we understand the struggle, but it’s easier to see and believe the truth when it’s about someone else.
A thing I appreciate about the Igibys is that while they don’t always agree, they continue to accept each other and keep at the relationships. Nia, for example, is able to call out her father when he’s allowing his bitterness toward Peet to affect the way he cares for his daughter and grandkids. She’s able to do that because they have a strong relationship. And he doesn’t like hearing it, but it sinks in because he loves her and knows her heart toward him is good.
Sometimes people make poor choices. Sometimes those choices are not only unwise, but sinful and harmful. And we can speak to each other about this, but we have to do so in love. Love is what makes it possible to hear each other, and safe to accept correction. We all need to be accepted, despite our mistakes, and if we aren’t, we’ll feel the need to protect ourselves. But look at what happened to Podo when he knew he was both known fully and accepted anyway! Before this, he was trying hard to reject his own past, but he had to do so alone, in fear and shame. After this, he was able to be free and to love freely. And he made much, much better choices for the whole rest of the series.
April 25, 2015 at 11:10 am #2315Miss LindaGuest
I’m thinking about these things, but can’t come up with anything to say at the moment.
It is like that moment after you dump out out a box of puzzle pieces, and the pile looks impossible. I know all these things ought to fit together and make a coherent picture, but at the moment, they are just a jumbled mess.
Some of these ideas may end up needing threads of their own, if I can ever get the pieces to fit.
April 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm #2287Miss MaryGuest
You have lots of really good questions here, but lots of really hard ones too.
One thing that I noticed about the decisions that the Wingfeather kids in particular made early on in North or be Eaten, is that they seem to be very different from what they would have done at the beginning of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.
Janner starts the series trying to get free of family responsibilities and have some fun. He gradually becomes resigned to the fact that the responsibilities are there, but in this book we see him actively embracing his role as protector of his family and making choices to become that, even when it inconveniences him or puts him at risk.
Tink on the other hand, starts the series always on the lookout for an adventure (as long as heights are not involved), he is utterly oblivious to risk and seems to want to spice life up a bit. Once he is on the journey though, and he finds out that he is a king, that is more of an adventure than he bargained for (probably more of a responsibility really, and it is quite terrifying if you really think about it, especially for a kid who never had to be in charge), and he just wants life to go back to the way it was before, or if it can’t, he wants it to be as close as possible, where he can be the little brother that no one puts in charge of anything, whose main job in life is to be funny.
Leeli starts out very much as a young child, not so much in years (they are all young in years), as that she has a fairly sheltered life in spite of the Fangs and her leg. She still sees the world as a mostly good, safe sort of place. Somehow the stories of the Black Carriage have not had the same effect on her that they have on Janner, or she would not have attacked a Fang, even to save her beloved dog. She goes through a hard process of growing up, as the books progress, because she sees a lot of loss, and yet she learns to continue on in spite of it. At various times in the books she doesn’t know if different family members are alive, but she chooses to continue doing what needs to be done bravely.
April 25, 2015 at 12:27 am #2308Miss MaryGuest
I guess another way of putting some of my thoughts would be that we often value what we don’t have, and things seem like they would be better “if only” something were different and we make a lot of decisions chasing whatever the current “something” is. Often if circumstances change though, we find that it was not really what we were expecting and happiness didn’t come from that, so we pick a different “something” to value and chase.
July 12, 2015 at 5:55 pm #2966Miss LindaGuest
I find it interesting that Janner decides different things at different times… and they both seem “right” at the time but they aren’t the same.
At the den of the Rockroach, Janner decides to have the rest of the family escape even though he knows that means that they are leaving Pete behind. He was afraid his decision would cost Pete his life (it didn’t) but he chose because he knew Peet would rather die than have the children captured. As difficult as it was, it looks like a right decision.
But then just a bit later, as they are trying to get across Fingap Falls, Janner faces a very similar choice. Podo is ready to try to hold off the Fangs and give the children time to escape, knowing that he won’t survive. Janner has to decide whether to run, or turn and fight, even though he expected that to end in his own death. This time, rather than leave Podo behind, Janner chooses to fight. It turns out to be another good choice because in the end they all escaped. It looks like another right decision.
But Janner couldn’t have known at the time how it was going to end up. So how did he make these decisions, and why did he respond differently the second time than he did the first? I’ve been thinking about this.
The actions he chose look different, but I think that they may not be as different as they first appear. In both cases, Janner acted to protect his family rather than simply acting from self interest. He ran in the first case because it was the only way to keep the rest of the family from being captured, and he knew that even if he fought it wouldn’t be enough to save Peet. But in the second situation, Janner had hope that if he stayed to fight, he could protect the family better than Podo could. Janner knew the Fangs were afraid to hurt him, which gave him a big advantage in fighting them. He chose to fight because that looked like the best way to protect his family at that point. He is starting to think like a Throne Warden, even if he doesn’t fully realize it yet.
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