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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 Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry after her 'indiscretion' with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of 'hunger'?

Created: 09/01/18

Replies: 6

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1626

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Why do you suppose Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry when the nuns learn of what they call her "indiscretion" with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of "hunger"?

Why do you suppose Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry when the nuns learn of what they call her "indiscretion" with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of "hunger" in the chapter titled "A Tonic"? What is the "tonic" being referenced here?


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

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 59

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RE: Why do you suppose Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry

I think Annie was not dismissed for a number of reasons, first, Sister Illuminata was getting up there in age and needed the help. Second, Sister Jeanne was Annie's friend and saw what a lonely life Annie and Mr. Costello both had. Both of the Sisters were very human and aware of their own failings so I think they had no desire to be in judgement of Annie.

When Sr. Jeanne alluded to different types of "hunger" she was definitely coming from human experience. We can hunger for fame, wealth, security, love, as well as sexual hunger. The tonic for Annie was Mr. Costello.


Posted Sep. 11, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 167

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RE:Why do you suppose Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry

Since we are discussing a novel that is, in some sense, taking a look at Catholic faith, I think it is fair to quote scripture. At one point in the Bible Jesus tells an angry crowd about to stone a woman to death, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." These nuns are caregivers, meant to be helping those in need, and surely Annie qualifies under that banner. In addition, throughout the novel we are told that God is fair - that he created us from birth with the ability to recognize fairness and act accordingly. They are doing what they believe is right and what they have been taught is God's will.


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

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 312

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RE: Why do you think Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry after her 'indiscretion' with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of 'hunger'?

Annie was not dismissed for her indiscretion because the nuns were afraid to upset the Ladies Auxiliary. Many of the ladies were wealthy and had husbands who were bankers and lawyers. The nuns had just inherited a piece of land on Long Island and knew the would be needing the help of these neighbors. The nuns did not want to cause any neighborhood gossip by dismissing the "poor, sad widow". Sister Illuminata had the last say and she knew she did not want any young sister or assistant down in the laundry room. If she were replaced, she would be sent out to beg in the cold subways or office doorways.
Alice McDermott deals with many hungers. There is sexual hunger that Sister Illuminata witnessed at the sanatorium, which she did not fully understand. Then there was the hunger to be comforted as Annie and Sally and even Mrs. Costello experienced. There was the hunger for affection as Sister Illuminata felt when she wanted Sally to care for her more than any other Sister. Sister Illuminata felt it so strongly she felt it was a sin.


Posted Sep. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulagb

Join Date: 08/16/17

Posts: 40

RE: Why do you think Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry after her 'indiscretion' with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of 'hunger'?

I agree with the interpretation that the nuns were chose not to be solely judgmental. They knew the sadness and desperation faced by both Annie and Mr. Costello, so they saw this as a humane and kind solution to a great deal of pain. Christianity at its best is a forgiving, loving religion, not the structure bound organization thathas little regard for individuals. This basic approach to humanity and religion is supported by the practical aspects of managing a convent and a nursing order.


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: Why do you think Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry after her 'indiscretion' with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of 'hunger'?

I think the nuns had compassion for Annie. There are many types of hunger or ways to be spiritually unfit. The discussion reminded me of HALT - hungry, angry, lonely, tired.


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

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 37

RE: Why do you think Annie is not dismissed from the convent laundry after her 'indiscretion' with Mr. Costello? Did you relate to McDermott's discussion of the different types of 'hunger'?

I think that the nuns chose to let things proceed with Annie and Mr Costello because they understood the basic human need for love/affection and did not feel the need to intervene. Sr. Illuminata realized that if Annie left, her life would be very different and rather than cast stones (at Annie and Mr C) she chose to keep things as they were, which made her already difficult life a little simpler


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