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Unsheltered


A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.
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Discuss Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver:
How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

Created: 10/16/18

Replies: 10

Posted Oct. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1913

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How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

When Willa complains that "the rules don't apply anymore," what does she mean? How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?


Posted Oct. 30, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
caroler

Join Date: 01/12/16

Posts: 12

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

Zeke and Tig were so different in their outlooks. I look at my two kids and I don't see the generational difference as much as I saw it in my elders. You know, the ones that went through the depression and still save and recycle. (my mom saved cereal bags to roll pie crusts on) I'm not sure I know Zeke's approach to the future other than to gamble that there will be more than what he puts in to it. Tig was more interesting to me and I think that's because she had experienced doing with little in her Cuban experience and was able to transform her current lifestyle to that. We see this in every generation where a simpler lifestyle is desired and each generation is more creative in creating it.


Posted Oct. 31, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 283

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RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

Zeke is still trying to work within the system, despite that he finally recognizes it is corrupt to some extent. He hasn't entirely given up on the fantasy of "having it all." Tig has seen more of "the real world," including the world beyond the U.S., the world where people have to struggle and be creative in their use of resources, where they recognize the value and the beauty of community-- and the urgency of saving our civilization from the destruction of life on this planet. I think (ardently hope, at least) that Tig represents a rising generation that embraces these values, the young folks who are turning out in great numbers to protest on behalf of the environment and social justice for those whom we can no longer refer to as "minorities" in this country.


Posted Nov. 01, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
celiaarnaud

Join Date: 04/18/12

Posts: 45

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

The rules that Willa refers to are the unspoken ones that if you do what's expected of you and work hard, you'll be rewarded and get ahead. Willa and Iano's lives are examples of how even a seemingly stable position might not be so stable after all. Willa's magazine shuts down and Iano's school closes. Having tenure doesn't protect you if your school closes.

I think that one way Zeke is preparing to have less is by abdicating his responsibilities. He leaves his son to be raised by Willa and Iano and then by Tig and Jorge. His initial reaction when he hears that Aldus is staying with Tig seems driven a sense of betrayal by his mother. But it enables him to go back to Boston unencumbered.

Tig, on the other hand, is growing her own food and stretching what she has. She will be better able to take care of herself if something catastrophic happens.

I agree with caroler that Tig was the more interesting character. Zeke is around so little and even when he is he's checked out emotionally.


Posted Nov. 02, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 283

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RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

celiaarnaud,
I think you nailed Zeke (although he is trying to do something better with investors for social good). What struck me in reading your comments was that he’s like Iano, in leaving the practical day to day childrearing to the women, and in Iano’s case, caring for his father as well as the house.


Posted Nov. 07, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kkh

Join Date: 11/07/18

Posts: 4

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

As millennials, I guess they do expect to have less than their parents. Tig expects less material things and Zeke seems to expect less responsibility. For a Wall Street guy who is a Harvard grad he doesn’t seem as materialistic as one would expect. That said, I also think he needs a good kick in the pants. It was okay for Willa to walk on eggshells around him when his wife died, but after a year, he needs to be reminded of his responsibilities towards his child.

Tig is so anti-materialistic it is almost a caricature. This point of view is often attached to millennials but they are certainly not the first group of young people to reject materialistic values or current social mores. It is with Tig that I feel the author really goes over the top. It is one thing to reject chasing after things and another to live in a shed. And Cuba? When did Cuba become our guiding light? I’m not so sure the difference is as generational as it is political. As caroler said, the generation that lived through the Depression and many generations before that were every bit as resourceful. People are resourceful when they have to be. Perhaps we have just reached the tipping point for materialism.


Posted Nov. 09, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 229

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RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

Their reaction to life and the future is definitely different, but I'm not sure it is preparation for less in the future - both are just different from one another and although there is not that much age difference, it seems pretty obvious that each of them represents the change in social order that the author seeks to present and emphasize. Zeke is the old way and Tig is the new. I don't mean to belabor this point, but this is another example of what is disappointing (to me, at least) about this novel. It feels to me as if Kingsolver is working too hard to sell her view point and instead of allowing her characters to develop naturally and be as interesting to the reader as I feel they were in her much earlier works, here they become more symbols in her attempt to teach us what we ought to be thinking and doing in our lives. Conversations between Tig and her mother come across that way especially. Zeke is in the background, trying to work it out and for that reason is more interesting to me of the two. There is dialogue between mother and daughter that I had to move away from - enough is enough. I work with millennials everyday and while some of Tig is in many of them, it is often because, as KKH says above, Zeke is less motivated. I do not find the coming generation to be as highly motivated as Tig, as communicative as Tig and, as a result, Kingsolver's preaching comes through, not Tig's observation or preparation. Will someone please respond to this - set me straight if need be.


Posted Nov. 14, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RebeccaF

Join Date: 08/24/14

Posts: 24

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

I happened to see Kingsolver speak on Monday evening, and she called the book her “love letter to millennials” like her two twenty-something daughters who are having to be resilient and creatively make up for the ways in which Baby Boomers have ruined the world. Zeke felt to me like one of the least developed characters in the book. I couldn't help but think of him as part of the old world order that's dying, and thus he was kind of forgettable.


Posted Nov. 17, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lloster

Join Date: 04/23/11

Posts: 7

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

I thought Tig was the most interesting character in the Book, and the author's comment about the Book being a love letter to millennial made sense. This idea was the hardest for me to grasp. As a baby boomer who frequently puzzles over the work habits of millennial, at first, I had no sympathy for this character. Then I began to see her as fluid and adaptable and not anchored to any preconceived idea of how a life should progress. While the other characters were looking backwards, resisting change, as we all tend to do, Tig is proactive and most effective in caring for the grandfather, the baby, finding solutions to the problems of job loss, money and feeding people. She is actually more of a role model into the future than any of the others, including her brother. This idea was a revelation to me - and my idea of what this book was about has changed several times.


Posted Nov. 24, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ErinJ

Join Date: 11/24/18

Posts: 3

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

I don't actually think Zeke is preparing for a future in which he'll have less than his parents. He seems to think the opposite--that if we simply tweak how we've been doing things, such as invest money differently, then having more is attainable and to be expected. The incompatibility of worldviews between Zeke and Tig is one reason they cannot abide being in the same room for more than a few minutes. Like RebeccaF said, he's still "part of the old world order that's dying," largely by abdicating responsibility and burying heads in the sand.

Tig's character, however, is definitely preparing for and expecting to have fewer material things than in previous generations. She's looking at the world from a more global perspective, with eyes that can see what shifts will be necessary to survive climate change and the resulting collapse of existing social, political, and economic systems. Unfortunately, she's so obnoxious about it, it's hard to like her, which means she--and the other millennials she represents--will have to work even harder to persuade people to their worldview and to take appropriate action.

We *need* to cultivate the adaptability, practicality, and frugality of Tig's slice of the millennial generation if we are to survive the coming changes. It's something Willa and Iano's generation seem largely unprepared to cope with--the idea that doing what worked before won't keep you safe any more. But it does seem like every generation must have had similar struggles in different ways, though, right? I mean that's the point of the parallel narrative here, and then there is the generation that learned to be creative and frugal by surviving the Great Depression. Not to mention our ancestors who survived the end of the last ice age, or the Industrial Revolution, etc.


Posted Nov. 27, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rco

Join Date: 11/04/18

Posts: 10

RE: How are Zeke and Tig preparing differently for a future in which they will have less than their parents? Did the novel move you to any new insights about generational difference?

I think Tig was more aware of the present situation of our planet and that we need to conserve and reuse what we have available to us where Zeke was caught up in the mindset of the financial world and you do whatever it is to make a buck.


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