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The Gravity of Birds
"A complex web of jealousy and heartache." - O, The Oprah Magazine
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What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Created: 08/18/13

Replies: 20

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

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What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Alice is drawn to both Thomas and Phinneaus, two very different men. What does she see in each of them? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?


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

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 22

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

She senses strength and consistency, maybe even safety with Phinneaus; Thomas provided excitement, playing on Alice's creative nature.


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

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Alice feels a tremendous pull towards Thomas, a physical feeling akin to lust and curiosity. With Phinneaus, she feels first friendship and then love. She grows to trust Phinneaus as her best friend and then falls in love with him. She never trusted Thomas nor was there a real friendship. Finch felt an immortal and everlasting love towards his deceased wife, Claire, who remained in his heart all the time. He also loved his daughter Lydia very much. As children, Alice and Natalie loved one another but that blew up during their adolescence. Stephen loved his father but, sadly, was never able to show it.


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

Join Date: 01/29/13

Posts: 21

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I loved Phinneaus from the moment he entered the story. Thomas had questionable motives and he didn't. Everything he did for Alice spoke of love.


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
shelbyl

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 22

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Alice sees excitement in Thomas and her relationship with him is physical while her friendship with Phinneaus is built slowly on trust and friendship.


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
mariannes

Join Date: 12/17/12

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I agree with what everyone else has said. Alice had a strong physical crush on Thomas, and she was so naive that she believed what he told about his relationship with Natalie. Despite this betrayal, she was able to develop feelings for Phinneaus that turned into a deeper love and she learned to trust him.


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
mariannes

Join Date: 12/17/12

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Natalie must have had some affection for Agnete since she went to see her twice a year. There appeared to be a small amount of love between the sisters. Natalie said she was sorry before she died.


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

In addition to what mariannes states, Alice KNEW that Natalie and Thomas had been intimate. Natalie knew about the scar on Thomas's butt and the only way she would have known about this is if she had seen him naked.


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

mariannes, I don't remember Natalie apologizing. I must have missed or repressed it. On what page does she say she's sorry?


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Bonnie - It was in the scene where Natalie died. I believe those were her last words to Alice.


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Thanks Kim. Bonnie


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Thomas was young love, passion for Alice. Unfortunately, it had dire consequences. Phinneaus was what we usually find later in life. Companionship, comfort, familiarity. The feeling that last when passion has burned itself out


Posted Sep. 09, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jeffs

Join Date: 06/18/12

Posts: 47

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I think Thomas is interesting to Alice. He treats her like an adult when she is young and talks to her so she likes him. Later i think she feels he betrays her, she is angry and steals the bird. She obviously hopes it hurts him. I could be wrong about that, not sure. In Phinneaus she sees a man who accepts her for who she is, with all of her issues. He is nice and knows what she needs to do to be happy.

The best and most interesting relationship in the book, to me at least, is between Stephen and Dennis. They were funny together and there was also a growing respect and love between the two of them. Honestly, without these two characters and their search for the missing paintings, I do not think I could have finished the book.


Posted Sep. 10, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Lea Ann

Join Date: 04/20/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I"m not sure why Alice was attracted to Thomas, other than, given her young age, the excitement of "forbidden fruit," an older, worldly wise man, one who probably made her feel older, more beautiful and more desirable than her sister. The qualities a young woman wants from an older man who pays her the attention she may not get from her peers. In Phinneaus, I believe she has matured to the point where she sees/feels/appreciates the true worth of a good man. She sees how he loves and treats his nephew and wants that kind of love and caring for herself. These two very different men bring out different emotions, I do believe, in Alice. She has grown through adversities of many kinds and can now appreciate a man who is more worthy of the love of others than Thomas could ever be.


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

Join Date: 06/23/13

Posts: 17

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Thomas reprsents a forbidden fruit. Alice feels betrayed when she realizes he has slept with Natalie. Sleeping with Thomas retaliates the betrayal. She steals the bird sculpture as a way to take something away from him.
Phinneaus represents safety and security. She loves him but is always afraid of losing him if she expresses her true feelings for him.
Finch loves his late wife and daughter. He has spent his adult life cocooned by his family. I am not sure there was ever any love between the sisters?


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

Join Date: 05/21/11

Posts: 31

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I thought the relationship between Finch and Stephen was also a good example of a connection that grew between the two and by the end demonstrated how good friends even with differences can become supportive to one another. An odd couple that worked. How do you think Stephen would cope with his new identity without the friendship? Meeting some of his needs also helps Finch!

What do you think will happen next in all of relationship the author created?


Posted Sep. 12, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

The twenty something Alice who meets up with Thomas quite dramatically in the near disastrous storm back at the cottage of her youthful vacations was easy picking for him. She was at a very vulnerable stage in her life both age wise and health wise and their sexual encounter therefore almost inevitable. All of her adolescent admiration for him set her up for this. She had a chance to take something she thought her sister had possessed and did. The ensuing pregnancy was accidental and the supposed death of that baby a devastating event for her. For the Thomas of that time it was just another fling.
Phineas on the other hand is just a good man with no desire to use or abuse her and she has a very hard time accepting that as her previous experiences have left her so isolated and antisocial she can not imagine a kind and considerate person being interested in her as a person. His persistence and unfailing goodness especially with his nephew finally let her open her life and her heart to affection and love.
Finch's love for his wife even after her death is unfailing as is his love and affection for his daughter. He also has a kind of love for Thomas who is not an easy person to love. Then when he and Stephen are suddenly forced to pair up in the search for the missing paintings/sisters an affectionate relationship develops through all of the bickering and frustration of one for the other on both sides. When Stephen's true relationship with Thomas becomes apparent to Finch he is exceedingly concerned for his cohort. He knows that Stephen dearly loved and respected the man he thought was his father and this would be a difficult thing for him. One is left knowing he was going to handle it well.
As Alice thinks back to her childhood she reveals that she and Natalie were very close and took care of each other well until Natalie suddenly changed. She did not learn till much later that the change was because Natalie had been forced to have an abortion and it had left her unable to have children so Alice was unable to understand that change for a long time. Though her sister made her life hell most of the time Alice never seemed to not care for her and ultimately Natalie cared enough to say she was sorry at the end of her life.


Posted Sep. 12, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bonnieb

Join Date: 09/11/11

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RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

In responce to joyces, I think that Alice meant more to Thomas than a fling. He was an alcoholic and incapable of truly expressing his emotions. His continuing involvement with Alice was an emotional one, as evidenced by the birds that kept recurring in his paintings. It was Alice that pushed Thomas away after she realized he had slept with Natalie.


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

Join Date: 07/16/13

Posts: 22

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I agree with everything stated here. Thomas was the crush. Her relationship with Phinneaus developed over time and was real. I loved the scenes in which they knew each other so well that they could predict how one another would react to something. I also loved Phinneaus from the beginning. It is so endearing to know that someone loves you unconditionally. Alice's illness left her feeling she'd never find love, bt .

Finch's love for his wife was very touching. And, I agree that Stephen and Finch's relationship, as it developed over time, was another form of love. Stephen for that matter was secretly in love with Lydia. Also, I think that Thomas did have a heart when it came to Alice, and also Finch. As clouded as his selfish nature was, I do believe he had true feelings for the two of them.

As for Alice and Natalie. I believe they loved each other while they were young. But, I think that Natalie's jealousy kept her from truly loving Alice. And, Alice and Natalie's parents seemed very in love. And, Alice was always referring to them and how much she missed them.


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

Join Date: 01/22/11

Posts: 28

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

Alice was young and looking for adventure when she met Thomas. He seemed worldly, and a bit out of her reach, which was appealing to her. Phinneaus on the other hand, was just a good guy that she could rely on; and eventually fell in love with. I was glad she could see the good in Phinneaus and had feelings for him. So often it is the "good guy" who is left behind.


Posted Sep. 20, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 23

RE: What does Alice see in Thomas and Phinneaus? What other forms of love are exhibited between the various characters in the novel?

I think it was pretty obvious what Alice saw in Thomas! An infatuation, a first love, an older man making her feel loved, talented, appreciated, a sexual encounter. He may have felt something for her as I do believe he is a complex character that we only catch glimpses of in the story. He "loved" all women, it seems, but he may have had something special with Alice hence the birds in paintings through his career. He was alcoholic which complicates his issues.
Phinneaus: what's not to love about this man!? I loved him from the start & was going to be truly mad at the author if good did not come to him. He was kind, gentle, dependable, encouraging, supportive....the list goes on; he was fun...Alice had never met someone like him and although she was guarded from her mistrust of people, she did finally let him in as a friend, then as a lover, companion...all the things we want in a partner. He was the most necessary character to make the story real.
Stephen & Finch ~ agree with the above statements.
Natalie ~ could she love anyone? was she always dysfunctional and trying to ruin peoples lives? I tried to give her a benefit but found it difficult to care for her in the least.
Loved Finch's relationship with his wife & daughter ~ true love.


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