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Medicine River Chapter 3 & 4 Overview

ENG 4C
by

R Gray

on 10 April 2013

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Transcript of Medicine River Chapter 3 & 4 Overview

Medicine River Chapter 3 & 4
Overview Chapter 4 So, now what?! Chapter 3 Discussion Questions Chapter 4 Discussion Questions Works Cited Two Peas in a Pod Hit me once, shame on
you, hit me twice, shame
on me... Tales from Bentham St Dual Narrative Harlen Bigbear: Matchmaker? Honey, what should we
name the baby? And a round of applause for the happy couple... Chapter 3 "Helping was Harlen's specialty. He was like a spider on a wed. Every so often, someone would come along and tear off a piece of the web or poke a hole in it, and Harlen would come scuttling along and throw out a filament until the damage was repaired. Bertha over at the Friendship Centre called it meddling. Harlen would have thought of it as general maintenance." (31)
what we think is initially a story about taxes turns into a story about how Harlen is trying to set Louise Heavyman up with one of the local men Louise and Will go out after she breaks things off with the Cree man she had been dating (and with whom she got pregnant)
their relationship remains platonic ("[w]e never got around to being lovers" - 36), despite Will's obvious feelings for her:
"I was sweating when I got off the phone, and my heart was racing." (33)
"The food made me brave" (33)
"Maybe I'll wait a while. Just in case. (36)
"...for the first time since I had come back to Medicine River, I felt good. Clean and strong. Maybe we could give it a try with the baby and all." (38) After Louise gets pregnant and they discover it will be a girl, they start discussing baby names: Wilma, Jamie, Elizabeth and Sarah are all possibilities
Will doesn't like any except Sarah
Louise ends up picking Wilma
in the hospital, Will jokes with the nurse re: naming her "South Wing" and that's what ends up on the ID card on her crib
Will initially corrects people re: him not being Louise's husband/Wilma, but in the end, seems to give in to his 'father/husband-like role' (quotation p. 42) Chapter four jumps back and forth between two stories:
the story about the death and funeral of Jake Pretty Weasel, and
a story about one of Will's neighbours in Calgary from his childhood, Mrs. Oswald Jake Pretty Weasel was an abusive husband (no secret)
there was talk that January had shot him (lengthy suicide note supported this rumour)
January confesses to Will that she wrote the letter after she found him already dead
some men in the community (Elwood) justified his abuse of January, others blamed January for not saying anything or trying to stop him
everyone worried about him for a while after the funeral, even January: everyone seemed concerned with preserving the positive memories of Jake Will, James & Rose had an apartment on Bentham St when they moved to Calgary
Will & James played with Lena, whose mother was Mrs. Oswald (divorced or separated, like Rose)
Mrs. Oswald was used to being wealthy, and wasn't entirely in touch with reality: "People who were born rich could never learn to be poor. It was too hard on them...[she] told everyone that her husband had recently passed way and that they wouldn't be staying long, just until the estate was settled." (46)
Lena reveals that despite her mother's claims to the contrary, her father isn't dead, he's alive and well- but they're hiding from him because he beat Mrs. Oswald
Mr. Oswald found them and beat Mrs. Oswald once quite badly, and she spent 4 days in the hospital
Mrs. Oswald never talked about the incident except to refer to it as an 'accident' January and Mrs. Oswald are in similarly abusive situations: their husbands beat them, but they either deny the abuse or simply excuse it
January copes by talking about how good a father Jake was, and how good a guy he was in other ways, keeping his memory alive after his death, etc
Mrs. Oswald copes by lying about her husband's 'death', and when he returns and beats her, she refers to the incident as an 'accident'
both use denial to cope, and while Mrs. Oswald DOES leave her husband to try and protect her daughter, January continues to stay and allow her husband to continue abusing herself and the boys 1. Put yourself in January's shoes: if you were in a relationship where your partner was abusing yourself and your children: would you stay, excuse it and put up with it, or would you leave?
2. Do you think Jake's death was really a suicide or did January kill him?
3. Was Mrs. Oswald a little bit unstable (mentally), or was her 'quirkiness' just her way of coping with her situation (abusive husband, etc)? King, Thomas. "Medicine River." Toronto: Penguin Books, 1995. Print 1. Why do you think Louise and Will didn't become involved romantically?
2. What do you think of the name Louise chose for her baby girl?
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