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The Second Mrs. Hockaday


At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of...
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Discuss The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers:
What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

Created: 10/23/17

Replies: 20

Posted Oct. 23, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1584

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What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Anne C.

Join Date: 10/09/14

Posts: 13

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

Speaking of the death of the baby, is it possible that Nerissa was actually drowning the baby, based on Charlie’s memories of the baby crying and the water running for so long? But why would she do that? Did she think that would help Placidia? When Placidia herself recounts the death of the baby after being caught in the flood, it sounds as though she did not know about Nerissa "taking care" of the baby while she was unconscious.


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 215

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I think Nerissa drowned the baby to protect Placidia from having to raise the product of a rape, and to protect her and the baby from the possible wrath of her husband when he returned. Didn't work, clearly, since Griff found out about the baby anyway.


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 112

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

The baby was not thriving and had trouble nursing. During a storm Placidia tied the baby to her chest and went out to check on her animals. Trying to save one of her sheep she fainted. Waking up the next day in her home the baby was gone. When I read this I assumed the baby had accidentally died. But later I did get impression that Neruda drowned the baby and I agree that it would be to protect Placida.


Posted Nov. 13, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ashleighs

Join Date: 11/13/17

Posts: 14

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I was hoping to discuss this topic, as it was one I hadn't quite decided for myself after thinking it over once I finished the book. I agree that the baby was not thriving. Nerissa knew about how the baby came to be. I do agree that she drowned the baby and it was likely to protect Placidia. But was it from the potential issues she would have with the Major? Or because the baby was already not doing well? Nerissa and Placidia seemed to have an honest relationship, one that you might consider rare in that one character was a slave owner, the other a slave. Clearly, Placidia was very upset that the baby didn't live. Would Nerissa not have considered this before making that decision?


Posted Nov. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Rebecca L.

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 42

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I wondered about this at the end too, and I thought that it was interesting that Nerissa involved herself in this, as wasn't she the person who had bruises from Nolan's "attentions" after Agnes's wedding? I wonder if that influenced her decision at all with how she "handled" the baby of her own rapist.


Posted Nov. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janetr

Join Date: 02/05/14

Posts: 13

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

Nerissa downed the baby. The baby was a failure to thrive baby and took every ounce of Placidia's strength to care for it. Nerissa knew about the conception of the baby and felt she was doing a "good turn" to her mistress by eliminating the baby and hopefully perishing the trauma associated with the pregnancy and birth.


Posted Nov. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sweeney

Join Date: 05/24/11

Posts: 87

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I agree with the other comments; Nerissa drowned the baby..to remove the evidence of the rape, and the repercussions with the Major.


Posted Nov. 15, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PattiPM

Join Date: 08/31/17

Posts: 4

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I think Nerissa drowned the baby. Perhaps it was because the baby was failing to thrive, or perhaps it was to protect Placidia, and to ease the painful reminder of the violence she endured. I don't think Nerissa's intention was malicious, though. I believe she did it out of love, respect, and fear for Placidia.


Posted Nov. 15, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Carol Rainer

Join Date: 09/03/15

Posts: 64

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

The baby was drowned shortly after its birth by Narissa who did it to protect Placidia.


Posted Nov. 16, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beverlyj

Join Date: 12/22/11

Posts: 58

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

Nerissa drowned the baby.
She knew what the consequences would be Placidia and that would trickle down to her.


Posted Nov. 17, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 350

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I agree with everyone who feels that Nerissa drowned the baby. It was a moment of shock, sadness, and yet also, understanding that this poor baby would have been a constant reminder of a horrible event. Nerissa was certain that she was acting as a friend and supremely loyal "employee" by completing this act.


Posted Nov. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 148

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I agree with the others. I think Nerissa drowned the baby.


Posted Nov. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynneb

Join Date: 08/23/11

Posts: 82

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

It became quite obvious from Charlie's remembrance that Nerissa must have drowned the baby. She might have also had a hatred for Nolan Oglesby and thought she was doing the right thing by Placidia.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pate

Join Date: 03/15/13

Posts: 27

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I agree with the other posters that Nerissa drowned the baby.I do believe the baby was not thriving and may not have survived anyway, and Nerissa did this to protect Placidia. While it was heartbreaking thinking that the baby died this way, I don't think she did it with cruel intentions.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 169

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I believe that Nerissa drowned the baby. The baby wasn't thriving and was a constant reminder of Nolan, Placidia's rapist and also the man who had sexually harassed Nerissa. I think she thought she was relieving them of a burden. I don't think she had malicious intent or forethought, she was driven to it by the horrible lives they were living.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianaps

Join Date: 05/29/15

Posts: 256

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

To me it was doubtful the baby would survive and Nerissa probably thought it was for the best.


Posted Nov. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jamiek

Join Date: 11/21/17

Posts: 10

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I think Nerissa deliberately drowned the baby and made the decision on her own. In that way she was protecting Placida the burden of reliving that night and raising a child conceived in violence.


Posted Nov. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 229

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

According to Placidia's inquest testimony, the baby wasn't thriving to begin with, and then both she and the baby fell into the floodwaters, and she doesn't remember after that. According to Charlie's memory, which he thinks might have been a dream (but we are led to assume it wasn't), Nerissa took this ailing child -- and perhaps he was even worse for being nearly drowned in the flood-- and drowned it in a washtub. All that fits together and makes sense to me. Shocking as it was, Nerissa probably thought she was just hastening a death that would happen anyway, and sparing Placidia the further anguish of having to witness the child's suffering, its failure to thrive or recover from the flood. In other words, I agree with ashleighs, and not with those who think it was to remove a reminder of the rape -- Nerissa was close enough to Dia to know how Dia loved the child, regardless of the rape.


Posted Nov. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Navy Mom

Join Date: 04/12/12

Posts: 213

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RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I've read all the comments but I really think children were cherished and that many babies probably didn't survive in harsh conditions. For that reason, I don't think Nerissa would kill the baby. I think the baby was gone already and Nerissa just cleaned the baby and prepared it for burial.


Posted Nov. 29, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joannev

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 22

RE: What do you think really happened to Placidia's baby?

I'm really not sure - I think the baby drowned in the flood and Nerissa took care of preparing it for burial. At that period in time, I'm not sure a slave would deliberately kill a child no matter what the circumstances, again I am just not sure.


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