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What are those old women doing?
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Picture of Primate
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What side are the old women on? They help Fat Charlie but then steal his feather but then give it back without a fight.

I don't think they're working for Anasi, as he repeatedly claims that the boys will have to sort things out on their own or they're no son of his.

Could they be working for Bird Woman?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Primate,


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Posts: 1471 | Location: Erie, Pennsylvania, USA | Registered: July 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think you're looking at this wrong. I don't think they stole the feather. Charly was just a dunce and didn't hold onto something he should have. I didn't see anything that implied theft, just that the old ladies, surprise surprise, were smarter than he was to actually keep it
 
Posts: 13129 | Location: Tucson | Registered: June 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Then why take it to the island?

(Because that's where the action was going to be, perhaps. But why did they find out that the action was going to be there? Considering that they didn't have the proper supplies to send him off the first time, not even black candles for pete's sake, we clearly aren't talking about regularly practicing witches. They already did their bit, so why and how did they find out about the island?

And why hide from him once on the island? Mrs. Higgler could have told her family to keep an eye out for Fat Charlie. Instead, the family stonewalls Fat Charlie, which could be from local culture or on Mrs. Higgler's orders. If they were trying to be helpful, why did she make it so hard?

And why did she then just give it up? She waited until Fat Charlie had already spotted her, which suggests that finding her was a test of some sort. After all, if she was waiting for him, she could have stuck around after the singing, which is when he spotted her. But instead, she hid just a bit off, so she could swoop in just as Fat Charlie really began grilling her nephew about seeing her. If she was determined to see him, she could have hung around, and if she was determined to hide from him, she could have ran. So, what reason did she have to test him?

And why the hell am I always asking after the motivations of secondary characters?) Smile


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Posts: 1471 | Location: Erie, Pennsylvania, USA | Registered: July 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Primate:
Then why take it to the island?

She kept it with her where she went, she just happened to be going to the islands, just like everyone else just happened to show up there. Unless someone knows some obscure thing he's referencing, it's just one of the contrivances of the story - all the tangled strings of fate end up there.
quote:

But why did they find out that the action was going to be there? ...They already did their bit, so why and how did they find out about the island?

You're making the assumption that someone is pulling all the strings. It's fate/wild unbelievable coincidence
or
the mechanations set in motion by Mr. Nancy because that's the sort of thing he'd find funny.

quote:
And why hide from him once on the island? ... If they were trying to be helpful, why did she make it so hard?

You're making a lot of assumptions about motivations!
-For all we know, Mrs. Higgler didn't know Charlie was there til she saw him sing
-For all we know, the island really is full of Higglers
-Ben Higgler could have been taking the piss out of a silly tourist who had a lime by sending him around everywhere.
-Mrs. Higgler could have asked to have everyone looking for her diverted since there were magical things happening
-Mrs Higgler was asked to keep the feather safe. Why not do that by leaving Florida and staying away from people?
Many many possibilities which do not include Mrs Higgler actively trying to stay away from Charlie.

quote:
And why did she then just give it up?

Either because she wasn't staying away like you thought or because Charlie had come of age in the story as it were.

I think you're making this more complex than it is. I could be wrong - I often have been - but I don't think the conspiracies of secrecy and keep away you're seeing are there.
 
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I think it's quite possible that Mrs. Higgler was trying to keep herself hidden, and her relatives did a rather better job of it than she intended. And it's also just as possible that Mr. Nancy was laughing in his grave at how well his plans worked.


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Posts: 48708 | Location: Concord, NH, USA | Registered: July 20, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by GMZoe:
I think you're making this more complex than it is. I could be wrong - I often have been - but I don't think the conspiracies of secrecy and keep away you're seeing are there.


Considering the depths Neil puts in his tales, I don't think it's unjustified to explore a character action that I didn't understand and expect that it is complicated enough to escape me. And I feel comfortable having asked the question because neither response you guys gave was definitive. GMZoe, you gave me a lot of options while trying to argue it was probably something simple. That suggests that Neil didn't explicitly put down their motivations or which means either the three of us all missed it when he brought it up.

Yes, getting every one to St. Andrews is an action contrived for story purposes. However, every one who goes to the island has a good motivation for their character to go there. Grahame went there because that's where he set up his refuge. Maeve and Daisy end up there cause they're looking for him. Rosie and her mom are there on vacation. Fat Charlie ends up there because he's looking for Mrs. Higgler. And Mrs. Higgler? Um...

So, I'm gald I asked and I'm glad you answered, GMZoe, cause derived from your comments is a simple, non-sinister explanation for what happened.

Mrs. Dunwiddy knew she was dying, but she also knew that the feather needed to be kept track of. So she gave it to the one woman of the group that was together enough to hold onto it: Mrs. Higgler. Now, Mrs. Higgler, who had no reason to know if Fat Charlie would be coming back for it soon, went to St. Andrews. Probably on vacation. Maybe permenantly.
quote:
From page 236:
"Where is Mrs. Higger?"
"Gone home."
"Her house is empty. Her car isn't there."
"Gone home."

Now, the kind of island that doesn't maintain extradition treaties usually aren't going to be really helpful about giving their family up to strangers that ask about them. Word probably got back to Mrs. Higgler that someone was looking for her, but the process of her finding that out, finding out who it was, and finally tracking him down could easily take the amount of time it took in the book. She hung around after spotting him singing, but kept out of the way of the police cause, let's face it, on an island with extradition treaties, would you want to hang out with the police unless they were already friends and family? So when Fat Charlie finally shakes himself loose of the police, Mrs. Higgler tracks him down, which happens to be the same time as Fat Charlie grilling her nephew.

Simple enough, but none of it made explicit in the book. Which means there's still room to concoct a more sinister explanation to write a thesis on. I didn't go into English academia, because making up stories about what the authors left out is not how I want to spend my life. But that doesn't mean I don't know how it's done. Razz


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Posts: 1471 | Location: Erie, Pennsylvania, USA | Registered: July 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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if i remember rightly(and i normally don't) st andrews was mentioned right at the beginning of the higgler part. suggestion goes a long way,as does synchronicity.


i played connect the dots with your beauty marks and came up with picture perfect sheet music.
 
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I read the book, and am now listening to the audio book. St. Andrews is mentioned very early on. (There were also some other passing references to the end I'd missed the first time around, like FC being afraid of Mrs Dunwiddy ever since he chased a tennis ball into her yard and broke one of her lawn ornaments. Seemed like such an innocent statement back then...)
 
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I've been thinking about this question as I listened to the book (my second time through the novel) and have some potential answers:

The one that makes the most sense to me is that they're helpful when FC is trying to get rid of Spider and unhelpful when he's not. They are trying to stay out of the trickster's way. Callyanne shows up right after FC starts showing that he's coming into his own trickster-wise. (She also knows that he probably saw her when she was in the back, so continued hiding/pretending is pointless). This wasn't a long term goal they had, but an issue which came to them, which is why they fold easily.

The other possibility is that the old women are all old jilted lovers of Mr. Nancy (Higgler and Dunwiddy explicitly say they flirted or whatnot with him when they were young) who only decide to help him once he starts coming into his own, stops being pitiful, and starts to have a glint of his father in him

There is also a theme in the book of the older generation misunderstanding and meddling in the younger's affairs, usually to their detriment. The old women with FC, Rosie and her mom, FC and his father

Just some ideas to ponder...
 
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Delightful thoughts all. More things to consider when I go through it next time. Thanks. Smile


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Posts: 1471 | Location: Erie, Pennsylvania, USA | Registered: July 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Something that occurred to me is how these earthly women were able to so deeply affect the spawn of an implied god, Anansi. How was a seance and their motivations able to split young Charlie into two entities? Unless they're more powerful then first understood? Or Anansi's boys more susceptible, being half human themselves?

again, as per the theme of this thread, probably going into more depth than necessary

but it's tickling my brain nonetheless
 
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I've had slight suspicions that Mrs. Dunwiddy may be a reference to something simply because her first name is mentioned, what, once? Ditto for Rosie's mum. But then again, I may be reading way too much into nothing. Unlike many people here, I have little mythological/old tale knowledge
 
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quote:
Originally posted by GMZoe:
There is also a theme in the book of the older generation misunderstanding and meddling in the younger's affairs, usually to their detriment.


That's what I made of it. Carlie breaks the ball, Mrs Dunwiddy is pissed off and wants to teach him a lesson. I can imagine at some point she (and the other old ladies who I presume helped her) go "ooops... let's just forget about this..." but then Mrs higgler pities Charlie and tells him about Spider. She realises she's fucked up again, they chose to help him again (but not telling him the truth, they probably think it would not be helpful for him to know and it saves their face). And they fuck up again. at which point I imagine them saying, right, done with this, let's just ignore the matter and maybe it will go away.
I liked the old ladies Smile


 
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Originally posted by Czarina:
Something that occurred to me is how these earthly women were able to so deeply affect the spawn of an implied god, Anansi. How was a seance and their motivations able to split young Charlie into two entities? Unless they're more powerful then first understood? Or Anansi's boys more susceptible, being half human themselves?

again, as per the theme of this thread, probably going into more depth than necessary

but it's tickling my brain nonetheless

When Charlie talks to his father on the bridge, this comes up. Anansi tells him they couldn't do anything he didn't want them to do. I speculated maybe FC had blamed things on an imaginary friend in his youth, who got him into trouble, so he'd be happy to be rid of him.
 
Posts: 17 | Registered: February 02, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would argue by first citing my sig quote. It's Terry Pratchett's, but refers to the concept that the accoutrements of magic are not the point--astrology, fancy toys are not what makes magic. What requires skill is figuring out what folks really need (as opposed to what they WANT) and helping them to get it.

A decent kitchen witch don't need no stinkin' black candles! All that other stuff is just placeholders for ideas, which is why the "mixed herbs" work fine. (Tho' I must say that scene was the funniest one in the book, to me.)

And so too are the feather and the lime merely representative of ideas--the feather represents his own fears and powers and the lime symbolizes his...specialness, magnetism, ability to "make it all better"... That is, when he carries one of those objects, he resonates on another level.

He doesn't really need that lime! But when you go around carrying yourself with a gleam in your eye like "Hey, I'm the one with a lime in my pocket; wanna see it?" folks take notice of you in a different way.

And ditto the feather--Charlie's own scary & powerful deepest wishes made that bird-woman stuff happen; the feather just gave him the oomph to do it. (Work with me here.)

The witches also provide comedy: it's unrealistic to assume that any three people are always going to know each other's minds, communicate well, and work in concert--expand it to four and then you really have some f*** ups--I mean, distractions.


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Maybe I'm wrong, but I think you reading too much into the feather and the lime. The feather is given to him by Bird-Woman, iirc she says she is giving him her word. He gets the lime just as he arrives in St Andrews, or just after he has his confrontation with Mrs Dunwiddy. Most of the time he is carrying it, he isn't really much different from the rest of the book. The change comes when he starts to sing.

The mixed herbs bit is funny, I'll give you that. Wink
 
Posts: 17 | Registered: February 02, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Okay. Please go back and read my post where I said that to my mind, the READERS (that is, me, in this instance) make the meaning.

So I get to read into anything whatever and how much I want, because I am the all-powerful, meaning-making READER. Ideally my interpretation makes some kind of sense too (as opposed to my claiming it is a story about a girl who's lost her dolly).

The same applies to everyone else on these boards, and we are here talking because what we have read excites us and we want to share our observations. By adding our own stuff to what others have said, we enlarge the understanding of the text for all of us.

You are asking me to diminish the book for myself, and that I refuse to do. Perhaps with the lime, Charlie "isn't much different," but people treat him differently--my point--and things begin to happen differently.

He believes that Bird-woman can fix things for him via the feather. Surely you don't say that all those bird-related events with the restaurant owner, Tiger, etc. didn't happen? I say they happened b/c Charlie subconsciously wanted them to happen. What is your explanation of the Bird-woman and the feather, if I am "reading too much into it"?

And I would also ask: would he sing if he wasn't "the one the the lime" (in spite of the fact that it wasn't on his person at the moment)? I say no; carrying the lime helped him step into his natural genetic charisma--but as I said before, it wasn't the LIME that made that happen, it was Charlie somehow believing in the significance of the lime.


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Taoist "Wooo-weeee!" The bosom that can be tamed is not a real bosom.

Dammit babies, you've got to be kind!
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Posts: 179 | Location: yes | Registered: January 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Okay, in large part my bad. I'm used to forums where people argue of exactly what something means, where it isn't open to interpretation (newsgroups for Tolkein and Robert Jordan in particular.) And it isn't easy to convey tone in text. I guess I didn't pick up on the 'representative of ideas' statement, kind of thing.

Really, what we are doing here, is comparing our interpretations, right? So, the way I see it...

I reckon Charlie is treated differently in St Andrews because it is St Andrews. Being 'the englishman with the lime' is part of this. Also, Charlie's mother was born (and died) in St Andrews, and it is at least one of the origins of Anansi stories in America. I like to think that is what contributes to him stepping into his heritage. That, and being in a life or death situation.

For the feather, I don't see anything special about it, in and of itself. It represents the deal he made, but it is the deal that sets the birds on the Anansi boys, not the feather.

"You are asking me to diminish the book for myself." Sorry if it seems this way. What I meant was, that isn't how I see it.
 
Posts: 17 | Registered: February 02, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Awright--I buy the St Andrews explanation; still thinking about that feather...

Peace out.


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Taoist "Wooo-weeee!" The bosom that can be tamed is not a real bosom.

Dammit babies, you've got to be kind!
~Kurt Vonnegut
 
Posts: 179 | Location: yes | Registered: January 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yeah, there has to be more to the feather...

All I can think is, when Charlie makes the deal he asks for something of equal value in return. And she gives him the feather. Charlies father admonishes him for not looking after it, later. Then he gives it back.

So the feather would be something as valueble as 'Anansi's bloodline'. Not much to go on.

More on the original topic, I find it interesting that Mrs Dunwiddy tells Charlie to make sure to get something of equal value, and then pretty much takes it off him.
 
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