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The Gravity of Birds
"A complex web of jealousy and heartache." - O, The Oprah Magazine
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How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

Created: 08/18/13

Replies: 8

Posted Aug. 18, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 502

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How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

Guzeman takes great pains in detailing the settings in which her characters live or work. How do the various locations throughout the novel reflect the people who occupy them? Are the characters able to leave their pasts behind by relocating? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?


Posted Sep. 08, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

Posts: 89

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RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

I was very much taken that Thomas lived in a dingy, dark and dirty apartment. An artist needs light in order to express himself; but then again, Thomas had not created art in over twenty years. The Connecticut home is the place Alice and Natalie lived when their parents died. It is also the place where Agnette was born. Though Natalie makes the two of them leave immediately after the birth, I don't think they can leave the past behind. One can never do a geographic as they say in twelve step programs. You take yourself with you no matter where you go. It is interesting that the Ct. home had work in it that Bayber had done along with a piano that had belonged to Alice and Natalie's grandmother. It held many memories from which Natalie wanted to escape. To an extent, Natalie escaped the house but she never escaped her bitter memories of things that happened thereĀ or at Thomas's cabin.


Posted Sep. 11, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
kathrynk

Join Date: 05/21/11

Posts: 31

RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

The above writer makes good points. Certainly the environment has great influence in how we think and feel. I can't imagine painting in the place where Thomas lived! When we looked for a house in our present location my focus seemed to be about which room would work as a studio.
It took my husband telling me: look -- we'll put floor to ceiling windows in the corner of this room and add hard wood floors! We'll paint the walls gallery white! Now can we buy this house!!

The space in which we live gathers our memories, our laughter and our tears and holds them there for us! Any one who knows me knows what they will find in my space! Book shelves everywhere crammed with books yet with wall space saved for paintings. Reminders of children grown and grandchildren too. Big comfy chairs (where else would we read) and one very bright room with only a stool and an artist's table.

In this book we say Alice's space changed! Think about how it expanded as she created a nest for her new family!


Posted Sep. 11, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 234

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RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

In the case of Denny Finch and the home where he had lived with his wife and raised his daughter the home was a total place of peace and comfort to the point that he was reluctant to leave it for most anything. And opposed to that we see the total chaos in which Baber lived which to me was not unlike his personality of living a chaotic, unmoored and basically unfeeling life. Natalie and Alice's parental home was something that Alice loved and Natalie wanted to escape which again sort of reflects their personalities. They made a new home in Tennessee at Natalie's instigation which eventually became a real home to Alice thanks to Phinneaus, but for Natalie it was just a place where she could live, work and continue her controlling, deceiving and in general abusing of Alice.


Posted Sep. 13, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
nank

Join Date: 09/13/13

Posts: 2

RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

What a good question! Guzeman spends a lot of time showing us the various homes in the novel, so much so that we can reasonably suspect they are important. In fact, they are metaphorical extensions of the characters who live there and the life circumstances they face.
Thomas's dark and dreary apartment certainly seems to sum up his life. The light in his life - his painting, the women, the money, etc.- has gone out by the time we see him there. His is a life of darkness and things hidden.
We see Alice and Natalie's childhood home in several incarnations. Alice's childhood memories of her home are filled with happiness. When she becomes pregnant, she plans to raise her child there. Then a violent storm sweeps in on the night of Agnete's birth, and the house becomes a different place. Natalie is in control now and she makes sure Alice thinks the home is damaged beyond their ability to repair it, an allusion to the relationship between the sisters. Still later, the house is being rented by a family. It is in disrepair, but still holds treasures like the piano and Thomas's painting. Like Alice, Natalie, and Thomas, it holds its secrets close.
When they move from their childhood home, Alice and Natalie buy a large, old house in a small town in the midwest. This house has a rather Dickensian feel to it. So does the relationship between Natalie and Alice. Natalie is cruel to Alice, who suffers silently and becomes nearly a recluse. Saisee and Phinneaus see what's going on, but neither steps in to help until Natalie dies unexpectedly. This house also hides secrets - another painting by Thomas, Natalie's communications to Thomas, information about Agnete, etc.
Horrible memories or secrets follow the characters wherever they go. Any of these houses could have become a happy home, but because they are a reflection of the people who live in them, they are anything but happy.


Posted Sep. 13, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

Posts: 89

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RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

nank, What an insightful comment. Bonnie


Posted Sep. 15, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyl

Join Date: 04/15/12

Posts: 34

RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

This is a good question. One of the most beautiful places in the book is Agnete's home. When Alice first meets her, she is gardening and her sculptures are in the garden, in the light. She is a warm, nurturing, accepting person despite her early difficult start in life and is probably one of the healthiest characters--physically and emotionally. She had managed to combine the best of her parents while being her own person and flourish in her environment. I think it is appropriate that Santa Fe is her home and it is there that all the characters come together.


Posted Sep. 17, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
keizerfire

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 13

RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

I do think this book showed beautifully that no matter how far we go, or how we change our surroundings, the past is always with us.


Posted Sep. 17, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
JulieAB

Join Date: 07/16/13

Posts: 22

RE: How do the various locations reflect the people who occupy them? How do settings, particularly homes, preserve memories and emotions?

I really don't think I could have said it better than nank or dorothyl.


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