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H is for Hawk
Winner of BookBrowse's 2015 Nonfiction Award.
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What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

Created: 03/20/16

Replies: 7

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

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What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

"Hunting with the hawk took me to the very edge of being a human," says Helen (p 195) What prevents her from going over that edge?


Posted Apr. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joanp

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 91

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RE: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

She aye that hunting with the hawk takes her to the very edge so that all that matters is the next thirty seconds. When Mabel caught an animal it pulled her back into being a human again. She wouldn't let Mabel kill the animal bite by bite she humanely killed it.


Posted Apr. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KateB

Join Date: 02/11/16

Posts: 56

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RE: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

I agree completely with you joanp when you say that she is 'pulled back into being human again.' This is an interesting question because for me, she really did go over the edge. The whole idea of living in a normal house with a hawk suggests to me that she was really very broken and I'm asking myself, thinking about the question, where 'the edge' is - and if it is in a different place for different people? I feel that she was lucky that she was able to train Mabel and gradually regain her sense of self. Very moving book.


Posted Apr. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 164

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RE: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

The answer depends on which "edge" -- it seems she had several of them. Being responsible for Mabel (as with any pet) pulled her from the edge of her initial grief, since she had no children or significant other. But Mabel became her escape and excuse for living on a different edge, separating herself from the human world; I think the occasion of helping to plan a memorial service for her dad, and then attending it, helped pull her out of her increasing isolation, reconnecting her with her own family, and helping her feel part of an extended family of people who had loved her father as a friend, reminding her of the value of her own friends. And then there's the edge referred to here. I agree with joanp, when she let Mabel hunt, as much as she could identify with Mabel's need to be free in the wild, when it came to the act of killing, she was reminded of her own humanity: Mabel would not care if the prey suffered being eaten bite by bite, but Helen, like most of us, did care. We have the ability, the imagination, to empathize with other creatures, and other individuals, which a hawk does not. And Helen obviously valued empathy, as she shows through her reactions to learning more about the life of T.H. White and his own sad struggle to break the cycle of abuse. I think all that she was learning about White heightened her sensitivity to this outstanding difference between a whole-hearted human being and a hawk, even a playful "lovable" hawk like Mabel.


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

Join Date: 09/11/11

Posts: 105

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RE: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

I agree with all of the previous thoughtful comments and it is wonderful to share this book with others. I think that another thing that helped Helen was her asking for help, her actually going to a therapist and getting anti-depressant medications. The reader can see how the world gradually opened up to her after the medication started to take effect. It moved me deeply to see how Helen began to see the beauty of the world again.


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: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

The "edge" is different for everyone: for me the edge would be suicide or destructive behavior to myself and/or others. I didn't pick up any of this from Helen so I think her behavior was indicative of "keeping that edge" far away from herself. She had her love of family & especially strong relationship with her father; she had her passions for hawking; she had books/degree/teaching even if she did leave those for awhile; she had Mr. White somewhat a mentor if flawed; she had friends -- all this and more gave her a solid foundation which sustained her when punched with a sudden death; and then Mabel who took Helen from the depth of loss to being able to accept & embrace change/loss. Helen's story in several places shows how much empathy she truly had. She was struck without warning - she withdrew; she followed her passion; she humanely trained & loved a hawk; she read, learned, experienced; she participated in her Father's memorial service; she found help for her depression; she spared Mabel's kills; she traveled to America; she involved friends from the first...I think Helen Macdonald had a remarkable journey through grief & back again.


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

Join Date: 09/11/11

Posts: 105

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RE: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

Marganna, I agree with what you so eloquently said about Helen. Bonnie


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

Join Date: 09/22/11

Posts: 66

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RE: What prevents Helen from going over the edge?

It seems that she may have always been on the edge of loneliness most of her life even as a child. That is from what little we know. Helen was drawn to falconry as a child. It seemed that her father was the only person that encouraged that interest. Helen knew that her mother was only half listening. Possibly that is why she said that all was good because she didn't trust her mother & brother would listen.
Is she a person who is depressed, feels different from everyone or very introverted? Maybe all of those things. I agree that the therapist & meds made a huge difference in her life. The memorial service did that create the change or was it a coincidence? OK more questions than answers, sorry.


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