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Cruel Beautiful World


Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance...
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Discuss Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt:
Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

Created: 08/04/17

Replies: 14

Posted Aug. 04, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

There are so many "what ifs" in Cruel Beautiful World, and characters seem to constantly wonder how life might have been if things had been different. Given the situations the characters find themselves in, do you think they could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do some of the characters seem to feel trapped by their circumstances? If so, which ones, and do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?


Posted Aug. 06, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lauriew

Join Date: 08/11/16

Posts: 27

RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

Without a doubt Lucy could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome. The first is to confide in someone about her love for William. They may have convinced her not to leave in the first place. However, even when she left her decisions could have saved her. There were so many things she could have done; go to the bus station while he was at work, call Iris or Charlotte sooner, just run away one morning, go to the police....the list goes on and on. I know she was scared, but I feel she was more afraid of him as time went on.
I also feel Iris could have had a different life. What if she had left her husband, gotten re-married and had children? Of course then she wouldn't of had the wonderful experience and love of raising Charlotte and Lucy. Maybe her life played out the way in was suppose to. She was meant to care for her sisters.


Posted Aug. 06, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kdowney25

Join Date: 01/25/16

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

I think almost any different decision on the parts of any of the characters might have changed the outcome! It was like a house of cards. If one is removed, the rest will fall.


Posted Aug. 07, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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alwaysdaddygirl

Join Date: 09/04/16

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

Maybe. Things happen for a reason. Without the bad we could no cherish the good. Anything is possible.


Posted Aug. 07, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

Surely Lucy could have made some different decisions - almost from the beginning it seemed she might have told someone at her school - an adult someone - about her feelings of inadequacy with regard to Charlotte and then about William. Then again, if one at that age feels inadequate, the attentions of a person like her teacher might truly seem like a positive answer or solution. Later in the novel, though, when Lucy lived alone in the middle of nowhere with William and knew she was unhappy - it seemed to me that she might find a person in a town she could tell or even Patrick could have helped her by helping her phone her aunt or Charlotte. How was Patrick so blind to Lucy's vulnerability and neediness? William, too, had such serious flaws that he was not thinking his situation through very carefully. It seemed that those in charge at school might have recognized his skewed vision and honestly related to him or to others before referring him on. Charlotte might have sooner been a better big sister, but clearly she was not able to look outside herself when Lucy may have needed her help.


Posted Aug. 08, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

Well, duh!! Let's start with not seducing your students, and not running off with your teacher. Even after that happened, though, Lucy could have gotten out as she saw her situation deteriorating. She could have made a phone call, told Patrick the truth, confided in the real estate agent who offered to help. stayed in Scranton, gone to the police. Charlotte could have spoken to her boss and left immediately when Lucy called. What happened to Lucy was not inevitable. But none of those things did happen, and the story played out.


Posted Aug. 08, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PiperUp

Join Date: 10/27/15

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

I think Lucy & William could've made a ton of different choices that would've changed the outcome. Unfortunately, Lucy wasn't emotionally mature enough & William wasn't emotionally stable enough to make better choices.


Posted Aug. 08, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

There are SO MANY bad decisions in this book! Every page seems to have another. If nothing else this book is a warning to all of us to consider and re-consider all of our decisions. Lucy compounded her bad decisions with more bad decisions -- perhaps simply because she was young and immature and a teenager.
Today you often hear the phrase "if you see something, say something." Apparently no one in Lucy's life saw anything, or if they did, no one said anything. Having worked in several different schools as a teacher and librarian, my take on much of the blame for Lucy and William's affair falls on the faculty and staff of the school (actually, schools plural). William's co-workers and supervisors failed Lucy.


Posted Aug. 08, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnw

Join Date: 09/01/11

Posts: 154

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

Lucy could have realized it was wrong to have a relationship with her teacher. So many students have crushes on teachers, but we trust teachers to behave in a morally appropriate way and the students to know it's just a crush.


Posted Aug. 08, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

This is truly a book of choices. Lucy should have known that running off with your teacher was not the solution to any problems she may be facing. She should have realized that there was something seriously wrong with William from the beginning. Yes, Charlotte should have dropped everything to go and find her sister. This is a decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Lucy just continued to make one mistake after the next. I began to wonder how deeply disturbed she was. Iris was the only one that I felt was trapped by life. She truly loved her husband and at that time period divorce was not so easily accepted to say nothing of what would have been said for marrying a gay man in the first place. Both Doug and Iris would have destroyed lives.


Posted Aug. 09, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elise

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 36

RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

I agree that this book is basically a culmination of bad decisions. The only good decision in the book was Iris taking in her two half-sisters. It was a very selfless thing to do, and she appeared to be a very loving and caring parent. The fact that Iris was so loving and involved with Lucy's life, makes me question what motivated Lucy to stay away so long.


Posted Aug. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alycet

Join Date: 04/23/12

Posts: 101

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

All of the characters lives were determined by Lucy's bad choices. Only with Lucy out of the picture can any lives change.


Posted Aug. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alissac

Join Date: 05/14/15

Posts: 49

RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

I believe they all could have chosen different paths, made different choices, but at the same time it felt like the characters were fused in their roles and therefore were propelled to their ends. This seems particularly true with Lucy's story- she had the potential to end the affair, to end the plan, to end the relationship, to tell anyone what was going on...yet she didn't. The characters seemed stuck in their roles, forced to see their choices through to whatever ends would follow.


Posted Aug. 15, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannew

Join Date: 04/23/11

Posts: 91

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

While I agree that all the characters could have made different choices, I feel like Lucy is the primary one being "blamed" for her choices. Clearly she made some very bad ones, however, she was only 15 at the beginning of the book and 15-year-olds aren't always mature enough to realize that actions have consequences and that sometimes the consequences can be very, very bad. I think she bumbled along with William kind of assuming things would get better and when she realized they wouldn't, then she reached out to Charlotte, who had always rescued her before. I think her affair with William shows that she wasn't really capable of thinking for herself yet.

As for William - well, no sympathies from me. He was definitely old enough to know what he was doing was wrong and he chose to do it anyway.


Posted Aug. 25, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Navy Mom

Join Date: 04/12/12

Posts: 213

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RE: Do you think the characters could have made different decisions that would have changed the outcome, or would everything have had to play out just as it did? Do you think they could have done more to effect change in their lives?

If Patrick had reacted sooner perhaps Lucy would still be alive. I think in today's world someone in Patrick's position might have reacted differently and gotten the authorities involved when he knew her age and that she had been seduced by an older man. The other characters' reactions seem to fall in line with their personalities and probably couldn't have acted differently. I think Iris could have been much more proactive in finding Lucy.


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