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H is for Hawk
Winner of BookBrowse's 2015 Nonfiction Award.
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Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

Created: 03/20/16

Replies: 5

Posted Mar. 20, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

When Mabel catches a pheasant, Helen helps her pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner.' (p 184) Then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?


Posted Apr. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
againstthetide

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 20

RE: Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

I think Helen's crying is a recognition of the fact that her father nurtured her as she nurtured the hawk, and her thoughts start turning away from thinking solely about her loss to gratitude for having had the type of father who really empathized with her nature.

On page 199, Helen says "The archeology of grief is not ordered. It is more like earth under a spade, turning up things you had forgotten. Surprising things come to light: not simply memories, but states of mind, emotions, older ways of seeing the world."

I think the pheasant incident is the first real hint of understanding and accepting her grief and acknowledging it outright. Perhaps the first step to healing.


Posted Apr. 09, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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RE: Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

For me this section makes the connection between Helen looking after the hawk as her father looked after her. Having children changes how you feel about your parents and can bring you closer to them, I think, as you understand the way they feel about you, because that's how you now feel about your own child. So I read into it that parenting the hawk, allowed Helen to understand and appreciate how much her father loved her.

againstthetide - I love that quote you picked out about the archeology of grief. That could be the title of a novel or a poem. I'm not surprised that Helen MacDonald has gone on to write poetry. There is a great lyrical quality to her writing.


Posted Apr. 10, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 91

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RE: Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

I agree with the posts above. I spent a lot of time thinking about this and truthfully I couldn't come up with a good thought. These posts helped me understand Helen.


Posted Apr. 13, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marganna

Join Date: 10/14/11

Posts: 111

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RE: Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

I don't have a strong reaction to the above reference. I can definitely agree with againstthetide & KateB. Helen has several reactions to the need to kill & her role in this. I don't see her as indifferent to this killing & lost life. Her poetic language is once again stunningly beautiful.
As I've said, I will re-read this book & this will be a question I will ponder more.


Posted Apr. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanr

Join Date: 04/25/12

Posts: 37

RE: Helen helps Mabel pluck the pheasant as 'unconsciously as a mother helping a child with her dinner,' but then, as the hawk eats, she starts to cry. Is this a turning point, and if so, why?

The comments in this string were very helpful to me. I agree that in this passage Helen recognizes the nurturing and love of her father as she realizes Mabel is a child that she has nurtured: " A baby hawk that's just worked out who she is." And then she cries, not only for Mabel, but also for the pheasant, "for Dad and for all his patience, for the little girl who stood by a fence and waited for the hawks to come." Helen's heart opens wide in this passage as she feels love for the hunted, the hunter, her dad and perhaps, most importantly, herself.


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