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Fall on Your Knees

English Project
by

Stephen Pinto

on 23 April 2013

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Transcript of Fall on Your Knees

Fall on Your Knees By: Anne-Marie MacDonald Plot Cape Breton, off the coast of Nova Scotia; late 19th early 20th century; the book details the time periods that include WWI and the Great Depression; ends in New York City. The novel is organized into 9 books. Each book is then divided into chapters. Conflict and pace Internal Conflict:
Materia- has trouble with herself over the fact that she can't love Kathleen
James- has an overwhelming love lust for his daughter, Kathleen
External Conflict:
Kathleen- her pregnancy that was brought on by James
Frances- her trauma and realizations as a child, and the beatings she receives from James
Lily- Crippled leg Plot Summary- Fall on your Knees starts with James Piper burning his mother’s piano and heading off to start a new life. He finds work in the small town of Waterford on the Island of Cape Breton where he falls madly in love with a girl, Materia, and they secretly get married. The father of Materia finds out, and forces the two of them into a proper wedding, before sending them off and disowning his daughter. James and Materia start a family with each other, their first child being Kathleen, then Other Lily, Mercedes, Frances, Lily and Ambrose. James becomes obsessed with his first daughter, Kathleen, and Materia finds it impossible to love her, and thus finds it easier to love Mercedes and Frances instead. Growing up, Kathleen eventually travels to New York where she is supposed to take singing lessons and become a famous singer. James goes off to fight in WWI and Materia is happy now, and sometimes prays that her husband dies in the war. When he returns from the war, he receives a letter that his daughter is involved in an affair with someone in New York. He brings her home immediately, and nine months later, she gives birth to twins, but her mother kills her in order to have the babies survive. Frances ends up baptizing Lily and Ambrose in the river, but accidentally drowns Ambrose when her father comes to get her, and leaves Ambrose at the bottom of the river. Materia dies three days later, committing suicide. The children grow up, Lily seems to be surrounded by miracles, Mercedes becomes obsessively Catholic and Frances turns to immoral practices. Eventually, Frances has an affair with a married man and she gets pregnant, but the older sister of the married man attempts to kill her. Frances forgives her and no one gets in trouble, for she feels it was justice after all that she has done. Frances eventually has a baby that Mercedes hides from Frances and sends him off to an orphanage, and Lily runs away from home, but not before receiving Kathleen’s diary. Through the diary, we discover Kathleen’s life in New York, and that she was raped by her father, and had an affair with another girl. Lily goes to live with that girl, Rose, and in the end, after Frances and Mercedes pass away, Lily receives the family tree that Mercedes had made. It was delivered by Anthony, the supposed dead child of Frances, and the story ends with Lily describing everything about their family to Anthony. Syntax Symbols Kathleen describes things sarcastically in French in her diary. French Materia’s home language, she speaks it throughout the book. Arabic Diction James collected, loved, and read books thought the book
James taught all his children how to read at a young age
James’ children became exceptionally smart because of the books
His daughter Lily would read to James during his last weeks

Symbolizes knowledge and growth within the Piper family James’ Books Was originally made by James for sown textiles
Ended up bearing all sacred things of the family including Materia’s music, the broken old fashioned girl, James’ old WWI things, and the baptismal gown
Trixie the cat died there

Symbolizes all the old, forgotten, and sacred memories of the Piper family The Hope Chest Symbols, Diction, and Syntax Almost ¼ of the latter part book is told though this
It is like a flashback to the days when Kathleen was alive and gives the reader insight into the until-now-untold story of Kathleen's time in New York. Kathleen’s Diary Some of the book is retold in many ways:
Materia’s Death
Kathleen’s death
Lily and Ambrose
Are all shown from the viewpoints of James, Mercedes, and Frances. Different View Points Kathleen asks these in her diary to convey a certain effect- whether it is to be sarcastic or to make the reader think hard on a certain thought that has been brought up. Rhetorical Questions African Americans that are uneducated sometimes use this dialect
Rose talks to Kathleen in this dialect of English when she is upset with her (Kathleen). Ebonics Language James speaks with his mother. It can be argued that it is a symbol of James's childhood and good times with his mother before her death. Gaelic Kathleen writes a diary in New York telling of her experiences

Symbolizes Kathleen’s whole experience studying singing in New York Kathleen’s Diary Allowed James an excuse to leave due to his attraction for his daughter Kathleen
Was a time of tension within the world
He has no fear of getting killed
Helps James stay away from Kathleen so he doesn’t betray her by acting on his attract

Symbolizes a haven for James WWI Boots were essential during James experience in WWI
James decided to make and sell boots after WWI
Right before James died, he made Lily a specialized, bright, red pair of boots which she traveled to New York in to meet Rose

Symbolize persevering through James and Lily Boots Chopin, Beethoven (Moonlight Sonata), and other classical composer’s music is played
Materia plays “black music” with a band
Frances is the piano player at Jameel’s bar
The whole Piper family plays piano music
Kathleen studies singing/music
Kathleen’s lover, Rose, is her piano accompanist

Symbolizes and conveys mood and the changing times through out the book Music Was the main coal mine on Cape Breton Island
James worked there before WWI
Many people died working in bad conditions

Symbolizes death and despair during the hard times of Cape Breton Number 12 Colliery James and Materia originally dream of going there
Kathleen travels there to study singing
Kathleen falls in love with Rose there

Symbolizes success for the Piper family New York City, New York James burns his piano in the first book after meticulous tuning due to his fathers abuse
Everyone in the family plays piano
James teaches all his kids piano at a young age

Symbolizes the bases and foundation of the Piper family Piano Grandfather Mahmoud’s servant/maid
Discriminated for being black
Accused of stealing from Mahmoud and fired
Shoots Frances when she is pregnant with Anthony
Teresa is a dynamic character. Teresa Jameel’s son.
Dreams of going off with Frances to start a new life and family.
Dies when he drives his delivery truck off a cliff.
Boutres is a static character. Boutros Third daughter of James and Materia.
Very defiant.
Gets kicked out of school.
Frequently sneaks out of the house.
Gets a job as an "entertainer" at a bar owned by Jameel.
Personality is heavily influenced by Catholicism.
Steals from her grandfather things to give to Lily
“Baptizes” Lily and Ambrose
Frances is a dynamic character. Frances Piper Kathleen’s singing instructor while she studies in New York
Has an accent and persona that amplifies his effect as a teacher
The Kaiser is a flat character. The Kaiser Wife of James, and mother of the four Piper children.
Materia is a descendent of the Mahmoud family.
Materia is a dynamic character – she goes from being a devoted mother to committing suicide in the home oven after finding herself distraught after the death of Kathleen Materia Piper Characters Meets Lily and Rose in New York at the end of the story
Was thought to be dead
Majored in ethnomusicology Anthony Owns the bar Frances is the “Entertainer” at.
Delivers various things to people on Cape Breton Island. He and Boutros die when they drive off a cliff.
Jameel is a dynamic character. Jameel Sends James Kathleen’s diary of her stay in New York.
The Anonymous “Well-Wisher”.
Roses' mother is a flat character. Roses’ Mother The brother of Theresa, one of the maids at Frances' grandfather's house.
Frances eventually has a child with Leo out of sheer desire.
Together they have Anthony.
Leo is a static character. Leo “Ginger” Taylor Commissions James and Materia’s house.
Hates James for marrying his daughter, Materia.
Taken care of by Teresa (accused of stealing).
Later taken care of by his second daughter Camille (he does not love her).
Grandfather Mahmoud is a flat character. Grandfather Mahmoud Kathleen and James’ son
Killed when Frances drops him in the creek
Thought to be Lily’s guardian angel.
Ambrose is a minor flat character. Ambrose The daughter of Kathleen and James.
Has some physical disabilities; one of her legs is longer than the other (from polio).
Very fond of Frances throughout the course of the novel.
When Frances has her job at the bar, she starts a collection fund to send Lily to New York to find out about Kathleen.
Lily is a static character. Lily Piper Mercedes' Jewish boyfriend that she met in grade school.
Eventually leaves for medical school.
Not heard from much again after he marries another Jewish lady.
Plays the clarinet.
Ralph is a static character. Ralph Luvovitz Second daughter of James and Materia.
Very timid and innocent.
Mercedes bestows lots of effort into trying to help her sisters stay on a high moral trail.
Becomes a school teacher.
At first think her sister, Lily is a saint, but later thinks she is sent from the devil.
Mercedes is a dynamic character. Mercedes Piper Kathleen’s accompanist during her studies in New York
Has a love affair with Kathleen
Goes out with Kathleen to jazz clubs at night dressed as a man.
Rose is a dynamic character. Rose First daughter of James and Materia.
Is a very musically adept person
Performs in the local theatre
Later goes to New York to study vocal music.
Has an affair with her piano accompanist Rose
While she is studying in New York, she gets raped by her father James when she is found in bed with her piano accompanist Rose.
She dies during childbirth.
Kathleen is a dynamic character. Kathleen Piper Teaches Materia to be a Mom (Cook, clean, etc.)
Helps deliver her children
Has growing concern and sorrow for Materia throughout the book. Mrs. Luvovitz is a static character Mrs. Luvovitz Father of the Piper family,
Married to Materia, father of Kathleen, Mercedes, Frances, and Lily.
James is a dynamic character
James burns his mother’s piano in the beginning
Was a father who always rendered the best interest of his children.
Serves in WWI to get away from his daughter Kathleen due to his sexual desire for her
Rapes his daughter Kathleen while she is studying vocal music in New York
Later makes and sells boots
Becomes a bootlegger during prohibition
Enjoys reading his collect of books to himself and children from his collection
Dies from a second stroke in his living room
As his final project he makes Lily a pair a specially fitted, bright, red boots James Piper Mercedes' care for her family makes her forgo her college education opportunities in order to make sure Frances and Lily are taken care of.
 James' care for his family sparks him to take a job at the mine, which he promised his mom he would never do. Lily's devotion (family/friends) (most grounded) is able to accept truth for what it is without judging it. Themes/
Motifs Mr. Mahmoud’s care for his family (even though he has disowned Materia) gives money to James so that Kathleen can go to study in New York. The desire to do well for the entire family throughout the course of the novel, no matter the circumstance.
Frances works at the bar, which is a morally deteriorating job, she starts a collection fund to send Lily to New York City to find out what happened to, her mother, Kathleen. Care
(to family/friends) Catholicism on Frances- when she decides that Lily and Ambrose must be baptized, resulting in the death of Ambrose (Lily’s “guardian”).
Judaism on Mercedes- Religion comes in between her and her boyfriend, Ralph.
Catholicism on Mercedes- Thinks Lily is originally a saint, but by the end of the book thinks she is from the devil. Devotion (Religious Influence)
(to people, religion, causes, and ideals) Point of View Book 1 The main character in book one is James, as it details his early life, marriage, and raising of Kathleen. Later, as she becomes a teenager, we see some of it from her viewpoint. This book lays the backgrounds for the characters and shows how each of them, individually live their lives in a way that makes them seem separated from each other. Book 2 Book two has no single main character; we see the book from the viewpoints of Frances, Mercedes and James fairly equally. The few days in which Kathleen, Materia, and Ambrose die are shown from the viewpoints of each character. This allows us to see the various characters' reactions to events and how they eventually cope with the loss. Book 3 Book three develops Mercedes and Frances. James is de-emphasized in this section. This altered focus is necessary to allow the reader to understand the sisters' progression later in the novel. Book 4 Book 4 develops the relationship between Frances and Lily. Lily is young and naive, and trusts Frances even when her older sister tells her disturbing lies. However, the reader sees that Frances truly cares for Lily--more so than anyone else in the family--later. Books 5 and 6 Except for Kathleen's diary, the book is written in 3rd person omnipotent viewpoint, allowing the author to show the reader events as they are seen by all the characters- important in a book as complex as this one. In book five, Frances gets herself expelled from school and alters the path of her life. The book follows her as she does so. Book six is a continuation of this idea, although it also shows life inside the Mahmoud house by following Mahmoud, Theresa, Ginger, and Camille. The wider array of viewpoints is necessary to show the various events that revolve around Jameel's bar. These two books are a kind of subsection--a story within a story. Book 7 In book 7 the Piper family is really growing closer together again. We see events from the viewpoints of James, Mercedes, Frances, and Lily as they begin to have some semblance of a normal life again. Since this book is just about our last glimpse of the Piper family before the girls move away and James dies, it provides a somewhat happy ending to this phase of their lives. Book 8 Book 8 is a flashback of Kathleen's diary in New York. It gives us insight into Kathleen's experiences in first-person viewpoint. This gives the reader a chance to view Kathleen's life and lesbian affair up close, and is an interesting change of pace from the third-person omnipotent used in the rest of the novel. It forces the reader to wait for Kathleen to explain the events in her life at her own pace and colored with her own bias. The diary itself is a tool of falling action because the account of Kathleen's affair explain most of the reasons behind her father's arrival to take her away, his reaction, and her eventual death. Book 9 Book nine is short, and follows Frances and Mercedes’s final days as well as Lily’s arrival in New York. It tells the final story of James arriving in New York to find Kathleen, as well as what really happened to Anthony, and how Frances and Mercedes died. The individual chapters in the book jump around between various events and time periods, and this strategy allows the author to unveil the novel's final secrets in the order she intended. At the very end, Anthony is with Rose and Lily, who relate the family's tale to him in what is overall a thought-out, satisfying ending. Mood and Tone Overall mood of the novel Overall, the mood of the novel seems to be rather somber and sad, although the level of sadness fluctuates between more and less sad. The novel is less sad, for example, in the section where Frances recovers from being shot and learns that she is still pregnant, and more sad, as another example, in the weeklong space where Kathleen, Ambrose, and Materia die. Mood and Setting The setting is on Cape Breton Island, where it storms constantly, is foggy, and rough seas lap at the cliffs. It is reflective of the lives of the characters, which are somewhat rough, bleak, and depressing themselves. The Piper family, particularly at the beginning of the novel, seems to be made up of individuals--James grows to dislike Materia and is embarrassed to take her out in public, so Materia is left alone at home, fighting to cling to her sanity. Even Kathleen has no real friends at school. These characters, isolated from each other, their family members, are similar in a certain respect to the isolated setting. Author's Tolerance When readers get to read Kathleen’s diary, they discover that she had a lesbian affair with Rose, her piano accompanist. James broke that up when he came to bring Kathleen home. When discussing this event, the author’s tone seems to be at least tolerant toward homosexuality. The author also seems to be quite tolerant of race and religion. While the characters are intolerant of each other, whether because of Materia's dark skin or of her, a Catholic, marrying the Protestant James, the author seems to enjoy promoting tolerance in her own small way. She shows the problems with intolerance and creates and fosters friendships and marriages between characters of different religions and races. Tone Towards War At the point where James enlists into the army and fights in World War I the author’s view toward the war seems negative. The author uses the quote “But no man may venture into this space between the lines and remain a man. That is the difference” to show her view on the absolute horror of war. This describes no-man’s-land, the space between war trenches, where the majority of soldiers died. The novel moves at a medium pace. The size of the novel makes the book as a whole move somewhat slowly, but events transpire quickly. The book moves through periods of slow parts and periods of quick action, providing and interesting pace. Setting Setting- Significance of Setting The author sets the book in an interesting part of American history. The many events and secrets of the Piper family occur throughout the roaring twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. All of the these are times of change and challenge in history, which refelects the hard times and challenges of the Piper family. Additionally, the scandals, secrets, and events of the Piper family occur before modern forensic science, which would solving these mysteries much easier. Summary of Plot Analysis of Author Strengths/Likes Weaknesses/Dislikes The author Ann-Marie MacDonald has a high degree of mastery over literary elements. She has good character development and demonstrates an excellent range of imagery . However, this is a dark novel that reveals the more disturbing and extreme sides of human behavior and thought process that we as a group did not particularly enjoy, especially the repeated sexual content. This book is not for the faint of heart. Novel is displayed in a non-chronological order, which is interesting, but often made the book hard to understand. Key details became hard to grasp. Despite a meaningful theme, the novels dark content made the book unappealing to read, at times the book can be disturbing to an immature reader. Vocab. Words Cloying
Epiphany Overall Advanced
Word Choice Superior use of symbolism, imagery, as well as high quality character development, and decisive use of figurative language. Good grasp of time periods, obvious that research was involved. Characters have options and viewpoints that match the various times of the novel. An example is the book's exploration of the meaning of 'colored'. Jameel is part of this, such as when James says that Jameel may not be black, but he sure is colored. Perception Much of the book deals with how things seem versus how they are. The Piper family merely seems a bit odd from the outside, but as you learn more, you find out about the horrible secrets of the family.
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