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The Ninth Hour


A crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.
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Discuss The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott:
What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

Created: 09/01/18

Replies: 5

Posted Sep. 01, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1626

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What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young? For example, Sister St. Savior becomes an invaluable mentor to Annie when she is newly widowed, and all of the Sisters jointly help raise Sally. How did the disconnect between Patrick Tierney's father and grandfather demonstrate the drawbacks of not having these types of relationships?


Posted Sep. 06, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 167

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RE: What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

Surely there is some instruction by the oldest to the youngest nuns in the convent. And outside the convent, in the Tierney family, for example, we see the parents teaching their children, rearing them in the ways we might expect by passing down information, tradition, habit, one generation to another. Yet, there is wisdom in youth in this book as well. It is Sister Jeanne who really lives and practices the love of God for all she meets, and Sally learns, out in the world on her own, that the convent is not the place she wants to spend the rest of her life. So, in examples like these, it seems that maybe the author is telling us that she believes that knowledge and what is good or right, is not necessarily something which does always come from the top down, from the oldest to the youngest. The young are here to be listened to and learned from as well.


Posted Sep. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 148

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RE: What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

Gaining wisdom comes from many different directions...our elders, our peers, life experience. Some excel at passing on wisdom - like Sister St. Savior and Sister Jeanne. Others may show the path to wisdom by their actions alone. The author uses many examples in this story of the ways we gain wisdom - not just from our elders.


Posted Sep. 14, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 312

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RE: What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

In the convent, the older sisters did pass on what they learned about convent life to the younger sisters. But each of the younger sisters already came with their own life stories. One worked through her day with a knot in her chest, another felt she had to work and pray to gain indulgences for her father who was a tax collector. This was all passed on to Sally, to the point of where she was going to try to kill a women, so her mother's soul would be saved. The Tierneys all felt they owed their lives to Red and should be forever grateful. I think McDermott was saying something about raising children without the superstition, fear and guilt of the earlier generations. Three conditions often passed on by the Church.


Posted Sep. 28, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sandra54

Join Date: 05/01/13

Posts: 53

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RE: What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

So much wisdom can be gained from those older then we are. I think there maybe was a message that there should be more of that today, listening to and respecting age and experience.


Posted Sep. 30, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyf

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 37

RE: What did you think about McDermott's theme relating to the wisdom imparted by the older characters to the young?

I think that McDermott balanced the learning that older people had to impart with the learning from younger sisters. Certainly, there is much to be gained from experience, and the traditions of the convent and the older sisters exemplified this...however, I think that she also respected the lessons of the younger sisters who looked at life and their vocation a little differently, but with the same devotion.
Sally learned her lessons well from both groups, and also was able to sift through the dogma/rigid thinking to make her won decisions.
I agree with Sandra54 - maybe there was a message that today, we should listen to and respect age and experience.


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