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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:
Why do you think McDermott chose 'Stabat Mater' for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

Created: 09/01/18

Replies: 6

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

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Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

The full name of the order to which the sisters belong is "the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, Congregation of Mary Before the Cross, Stabat Mater." To Sister Jeanne, Stabat Mater symbolizes the triumph of love over brutality. To Sister Illuminata, it means that love applied to suffering is "like a clean cloth to a seeping wound." Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?


Posted Sep. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

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RE: Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

Stabat Mater ( the sorrowful mother was standing) is a medieval hymn which refers to Mary standing at the bottom of Jesus' cross. In the chapter entitled Stabat Mater, Sally arrives back home from Chicago and finds her mother serving frying ham and eggs to serve to Mr. Costello. Certainly Annie was a "sorrowful" mother having just had her daughter leave to go join the convent. Annie was a "sorrowful" mother through most of the book until her relationship with Mr. Costello occurred. After all Annie's sorrow, losing Jim, raising Sally, working at the convent laundry, she is still standing and hopeful.


Posted Sep. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lois Irene

Join Date: 01/20/16

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RE: Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

The sorrowful mother still standing or "Stabat Mater" represents Annie, who after her daughter has left to join a convent, is still standing, reaching for a full life with Mr. Costello. She shows her resilience.


Posted Sep. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

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RE: Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

I thought the title of the chapter "Stabat Mater" was referring to Sally coming home from Chicago. She wanted to talk to her mother about what happened on the train and how it affected her decision not to become a nun. But Sally had to confront more change when she found her mother with Mr. Costello. It was a lot for her to handle on her own.


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

Join Date: 10/15/14

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RE: Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

I agree that "Stabat Mater" is symbolic of Annie - Sally's sorrowful mother throughout most of this novel. As Sally returns home, she finds her "Stabat Mater" cooking breakfast for and enjoying the company of Mr. Costello - and thus Sally is forced to recognize yet another reality of life that she has heretofore not been aware of or exposed to. "Stabat Mater" is used ironically here - the sorrowful mother she expected to find, to be willing to listen to what she (Sally) has just experienced, the sorrowful mother she believes she has lived with for years is, in fact, not so sorrowful.


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

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 45

RE: Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

I agree with the idea that Stabat Mater refers to Annie. She’s suffered and sacrificed through most of the book. Sally was so young and sheltered that she may not have recognized all that Annie was doing. The idea that it’s used ironically is an interesting one. Annie is and isn’t sorrowful at that point. The time she spends with Mr. Costello is one of the few times she really has to herself. She thought Sally was gone, and therefore one less person she had to hide it from.


Posted Sep. 09, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

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RE: Why do you suppose McDermott chose "Stabat Mater" for the title of the chapter about Sally coming home from Chicago and discovering the truth about Annie and Mr. Costello?

The title is almost ironic in its use. Stabat Mater does refer to Mary standing at the Cross and a sword wounding her heart. In this book, Annie is certainly the sorrowful mother, up to this point. Sally had worried about leaving her mother alone, but then returns home to find her mother quite joyful. It is Sally that feels the sword through her heart. When Sally leaves home, Annie does not rush after her and break off her relationship to Mr. Costello. I think the title is well used because it symbolizes the closeness of a mother and child and how one can feel the pain of the other. Only in this case Sally, the child feels the sword.


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