Lily calls her family "repressed," saying they never learned how to mourn their youngest child, the sister who died before Lily and Anna were born. Why does she say she and Anna were treated like "replacement children?"
Join Date: 10/11/10
Join Date: 06/15/11
I've never had a sibling death, so I can't speak to this with any authority. It sounds like the parents were so centered on the one child's death, that they just couldn't take the time to enjoy and celebrate the lives that were left in their family .... including their own. It would almost be worse than having no parents at all than to daily face the perceived rejection.
Join Date: 09/11/11
They were treated as 'replacement children' after their younger sister died. Their younger sister's death was never mentioned nor was she talked about, but her spirit was always present in the house and her death was the cause of the parents' break-up.
Join Date: 04/10/11
This question is worded a little strangely, "they never learned how to mourn their youngest child, the sister who died before Lily and Anna were born." Janie was their first child, the oldest, not the youngest, and therefore Lily and Anna were "replacements." I think they were treated special, given everything that the parents had wanted to give to Janie but couldn't, but the love the younger girls deserved was lavished on Janie's memory.
Join Date: 10/15/10
Hi Dorothy, I agree that the wording is a little strange, but this is how the question came to us from the publisher's reading guide which presumably quotes the book correctly. I wonder if it mean that in the parents' minds she remains the youngest as she never grew up? If anyone knows where to find the quote and can verify the wording, that would be great!
Join Date: 01/12/12
I took the question to mean Janie would forever be the youngest, because she would never grow up like Lily and Anna. Their marriage disintegrated due to their inability to handle the death of Janie, though they had two healthy children, so it would have been natural for the girls to feel they'd been born to fill a void but hadn't fulfilled their purpose - to help their parents get over Janie. If their parents hadn't divorced they'd likely have felt much differently.
Join Date: 05/10/12
I took the statement at face value. Lily felt as though she and her sister were born to replace their dead sibling which of course is impossible. I'm sure her parents would completely disagree. One has to keep in mind that Lily is a 20 some year old girl.When I was that age my friends and I loved to self analyze and tended to be overly dramatic.
Join Date: 12/22/11
The parents were so stifled by the death of their first child that they went out of their way to "avoid" expressing their true feelings and so the death was a cloud over Lily and Anna that they felt that their parents hoped that having them would bring "normalcy" to their lives. Lily was confused if she was the oldest child or the middle child and Anna felt that since her parents always intended to have two children, they had her so Lily could have a sibling to so they had two children.
Join Date: 01/31/13
They were the replacement children but Anna takes it a step further by saying that it was supposed to be Lily and Janie but Anna came about only to keep Lily from being alone. Again, outward appearances were that they had a happy and healthy family life but it's happiness may have just an appearance.
Join Date: 12/17/12
Like Malindan, I took this at face value. Lily thought her parents only had her because her sister died. I really thought it sounded like Lily was feeling sorry for herself. She was too young to realize how much her parents had suffered by losing Janie.
Join Date: 12/19/12
There were a few times in the book where their treatment was described, and I think because of Janie's death if was different than they otherwise would have been treated. This might have made her/them feel like replacements, or at least like they were different because of their sister's death.
For one, their parents had crumbled and their moods and heartache of Janie were referenced often. Lily had tried to ask about her sister and caused her mother to breakdown, so from that point her and Anna knew not to talk about it. But this wasn't fair to them, because so much of their lives were affected by Janie, yet they couldn't quench their basic curiosities about her.
Other passages described their treatment, being allowed to have more freedoms than other kids and be at adult parties and basically be spoiled and untamed because their parents didn't want to reel them back in for guilt over Janie's death. I think their guilt over Janie not being able to live a full life lead them to let Lily and Anna have a lot more freedoms trying to make up for that. Their reins were maybe a little too loose, to accommodate some unspoken freedoms for Janie.
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