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The Atomic Weight of Love
In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from...
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What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

Created: 03/14/17

Replies: 11

Posted Mar. 14, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? In what ways does the setting affect Meridian's choices, the direction of her life? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?


Posted Mar. 19, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bobbie7

Join Date: 09/19/13

Posts: 49

RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

Los Alamos is very integral to the story and Meridian's life. The remote location in New Mexico and the secretive surroundings encourages Meridian to search outside her physical and emotional boundries to develop her sense of self and the story blossoms into more than just a romance novel


Posted Mar. 19, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

I think that location and what it stood for was key to this story. It totally changed the direction of Meri's life and also Alden's and though it was good for him it was a major blow and life changer for her. If she had been able to pursue her studies and get her academic credentials she would have been a happier person. I feel that if they had not ended up in New Mexico they would both have had careers in academia and research which would have been reflected in the dynamic of their marriage and life.


Posted Mar. 20, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

Los Alamos was a small, intense and secretive community - lots of very smart and self-confident people - which created an extremely rigid culture highly committed to enforcing its own rules. This reinforced Alden's sense of superiority and Meridian's sense of her own limitations (her absence of a graduate degree, for instance). She had little freedom to explore options - for instance, pursuing a graduate degree at a school other than Cornell. I did not understand why that option was not discussed until almost the end of the book. The community epitomized the limitations that Meridian felt and that Alden felt it was his right to impose.


Posted Mar. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PiperUp

Join Date: 10/27/15

Posts: 62

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

I agree with everyone & think that laurap captured it perfectly with the statement of "The community epitomized the limitations that Meridian felt and that Alden felt it was his right to impose."


Posted Mar. 21, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
suelizbeth

Join Date: 01/15/17

Posts: 12

RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

Los Alamos offered Alden the isolation that he thought would keep Meridian in line, but she kept finding escape hatches in her friends and her surroundings. She developed in a way that would have been impossible for her in Pennsylvania or Chicago, where she would have been able to complete her degree, but wouldn't have become the expanded version of herself that emerged in New Mexico.


Posted Mar. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kbschaffer

Join Date: 03/20/17

Posts: 8

RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

The isolation at Los Alamos is a symbol of the isolation Meridian felt. Only those who were on the inside of that secret world were considered important and had power. They could control atoms and apparently all else. Those on the outside were to serve them. In the book all of those on the inside were men and they cared their power and self-importance into their outside world as well. She has to fight being devalued and powerless even after the death of her husband.


Posted Mar. 22, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbm

Join Date: 02/04/16

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

Well said Kbschaffer! I think Power, Secrecy, Isolation Meridian experiences as a wife in Los Alamos could not be experienced to that degree anywhere else in the country at that time. I think it mirrors the major issue-themes of her life, from being powerless and poor and isolated by her intellect as a youth to the isolation of not being in a sorority in college, and the isolation she felt from the other wives who held post graduate degrees and were mothers, to the 'secret' of sexual satisfaction, to her lack of power even though she was a milionaire! By the completion of her life, she enjoyed long-term friendships, experienced the value and power of helping young women, and gifted her solitary science journals to others. What a triumph!


Posted Mar. 23, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beac

Join Date: 08/23/11

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

He got what he wanted and she had to give up what she wanted since it was in Los Alamos and impossible for her to continue in any kind of career. It was also important because it was a place where she could keep studying the blackbirds, thus showing us that she was still a scientist and how much she had to sacrifice. Her husband thought it was his right to ask her to give up her own career to support his.


Posted Mar. 23, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyh

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 60

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

It was a very isolated area in the 40s. The location added to the story as she was as isolated as the town. She would have more opportunities closer to home if she were in a larger city.


Posted Apr. 02, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Navy Mom

Join Date: 04/12/12

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RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

Los Alamos set the stage for isolation. Alden seemed to always be isolated wherever he was by his personality as a scientist where he went into his own mind. Meridian on the other hand needed stimulation in conversation and ideas. That's what attracted her to Alden in the first place. If she had been in a more stimulating place it might not have mattered as much about Alden's lack of conversation and interest and Meridian would have had something to bring to the discussion to keep Alden interested. I thought the idea that all the women were also highly educated and intellectual also made Los Alamos different than other places. The women's education, even though they weren't using it also isolated Meridian and made her feel inferior.


Posted Apr. 02, 2017 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vivianh

Join Date: 11/14/11

Posts: 18

RE: What does the setting of Los Alamos add to the story? What might her life have been had she stayed in Pennsylvania or Chicago? How does the setting of your own life affect choices you make?

I agree that the Los Alamos setting was symbolic and critical and contributed to her isolation.


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