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The Second Mrs. Hockaday


At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of...
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Discuss The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers:
Why not just tell the truth?

Created: 11/13/17

Replies: 9

Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Anne C.

Join Date: 10/09/14

Posts: 13

Why not just tell the truth?

When we finally learn the full story of Placidia’s rape, why didn’t she report the rape and just explain she had to shoot Nolan to save her life? No one would know that Achilles had fired the gun first. Then Dia would have an explanation for her pregnancy and her husband would know the truth when he came home. She could certainly have explained the death of the baby in the flood. Abner and Nerissa would have backed up her story. It seems that Nia’s silence caused so many of her troubles!
It’s hard to imagine everyone would side with the rapist and his family, since Dia’s family also had a well known reputation in the county.
But ..... this would pretty much take away most of the suspense in the novel!


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 196

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

One doesn't always act sensibly when under great stress. I think Placidia acted the way she did both to protect Achilles (who would have been, after all, a runaway as well as a murderer in the view of the community) and out of some sense that she was the cause of her own troubles. I'm not saying she was right on wither count, but she had a fatalistic streak that could very well have skewed her perception of events.


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 107

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

In the beginning I think she was protecting the relatives, not wanting them to know that Nolan had raped her. More then that she was protecting her husband. She did not want him to live with the pain that he had not been able to protect her. He was older then her and even though he was away at war he would have had the guilt and the pain. Also she was protecting Achilles as he would have been considered a black man murdering a white man no matter what the reason.


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ashleighs

Join Date: 11/13/17

Posts: 14

RE: Why not just tell the truth?

I'm not so certain, with the setting of the Civil War, that a woman would have been treated all that much more fairly than a slave when it came to shooting a white man. She was young to boot. Had she confessed and shared the events truthfully with others, would Nolan's high-class family accepted this as fact. Doubtful. She lied to protect Achilles, herself, and everyone else present on the farm that night. It was her word and that's all she would have had. That wasn't enough in those days.


Posted Nov. 15, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Carol Rainer

Join Date: 09/03/15

Posts: 55

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

Under the circumstances, she had to make up story as to why Achilles disappeared and to help all the people who aided her.


Posted Nov. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Rebecca L.

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 42

RE: Why not just tell the truth?

I had this same thought at first, my gosh why not just simplify things and tell your husband the truth! After thinking on this, there were two things that came to mind for me:

1) Placidia described when she first saw her husband on his return to the farm after two years that he looked so beaten and defeated, she didn't think he would be able to withstand the truth of what had transpired on the farm. And remember too, once he did find out Placidia found him outside with a gun contemplating suicide. As ass-backwards as it seems since it made him so upset, Placidia would have rather gone to jail than put her husband through the pain of knowing that he left her alone and unprotected and she ended up being raped.

2) At that time a woman's word meant nothing, and even if she said Nolan raped her, it would be her word against his family's and she knew that his family would deny any kind of wrongdoing and persecute her to the full extent of the law. Also once they made the decision to fake the circumstances of Nolan's death (in the mountains on his way to Tennessee I believe) it would be hard to tell the truth to any one in that situation without a long explanation on how it came about that everyone thinks Nolan died many miles from the farm.


Posted Nov. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 142

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

I feel like she didn't tell the truth because women didn't have a voice in that time period. I think she would have feared what her family, friends, society would have thought of her and how she would be treated. She also would have been afraid of her husband's feelings and how society would have possibly treated him for leaving her in that situation.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 145

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

I think she thought she was protecting everyone from a family scandal. Also, when she saw the Major returning in such a depleted state, she wanted to spare him. Unfortunately, the truth would have served her well and not put the family through such disgrace. I don't agree with her decision not to disclose the truth.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 205

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

She knew first of all that regardless of the circumstances, Achilles would be made to pay horribly for shooting or helping to shoot a white man--and Achilles was her brother, who had come to her aid. She knew the brutality he would face. She also knew her stepmother and stepsister wouldn't believe her, would blame her, make excuses for Nolan, and likely so would others of their ilk. This was an era when women, especially in the South, were still treated as weak, incapable of looking after their own affairs, and unreliable in court, with little in the way of legal rights of their own. All good reasons to bury the truth in the first place, and help Achilles to escape.

When the Major returned, the same reasons she buried the truth in the first place still prevailed, plus the knowledge that he would be full of anger and pain with nowhere to direct it. I agree she wanted to spare him, and avoid further strife. Unfortunately, his reaction over what he imagined made him angry enough to provoke further scandal with a lawsuit.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianaps

Join Date: 05/29/15

Posts: 224

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RE: Why not just tell the truth?

Everything happened so fast that night and Dia simply reacted without thinking. She did what she had to do to protect Achilles. She also knew her step-sister would turn the rape against her and claim it to be her own fault.


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