(Note: Excuse the lack of formatting of any kind. I can only use the Blogger app at the moment, so.)
This week's question is:
"'Eleanor, you have a choice,' [Jie] said softly. 'You always have a choice'" (p.166, Something Strange and Deadly).
How do you think this quote relates to the overall theme of Something Strange and Deadly? Do you think Eleanor behaves as if she has a choice at the start of the book? What about at the end of the book? And do other characters behave as if they have a choice or do some see themselves as victims of circumstance?
I think that even at the beginning, to an extent, Eleanor did act at times out of choice. For example, she should have told her mother the truth, but she decided not to. And in a way, she decided to be (or perhaps to not be) who society and her mother told her to be. She still wore her dresses and petticoats, and she still carried around her parasol. Maybe some of that wasn't her own choice, but she could have just rebeled against it. Then, she starts to lean towards choosing what she wants, rather than choosing to do what her mother wants. I think the shift is that she goes from choosing to be who society tells her to be to choosing to be who she wants to be, and that's where the difference lies.
In regards to the other characters, I think it depends. Jie clearly makes her own decisions and choices, no matter what others want her to do. Joseph, I think, makes decisions more based off of what's best for the Spirit-Hunters rather than what might be better and safer for himself. Daniel also chooses his own path, I believe, though I think that his past also influences and weighs down on his choices, which are often more limited. As for Elijah, I'm stuck on him. I think that in some aspects, everything was his choice, but at the same time, there's something about his situation that makes me think twice.
As for Eleanor's mother, I think she doesn't realize the choices that she has, at least until it's too late. She continues to confirm to society, not necessarily thinking about what's best for herself and for her family. But maybe it is, in a sense, her choice to do that. It's hard to say, but I think that she sees herself as having no choice. Then someone like Clarence, I believe, honestly had less of a choice or at least failed to act upon them the most. He sees himself as a victim. He doesn't see the choices that he can make, possibly except for when he hired some bodyguards.
I think that this question is more complex than it first seems because you have to think twice about what choices people can actively make, and I think that almost anything you do comes from a choice. A choice to conform to society. A choice not to. A choice to do what you want. A choice to not do that, perhaps because it's better for others or perhaps because you don't want to get in trouble. We all make choices, whether we're aware of it or not. And so, in the end, I think everyone has a choice, but that Jie might have meant to choose what you want.
(So I realize now that I kind of moved in circles in this post, but I think we all make choices of some kind, but only a few characters in the book make choices that go with what they actually want, which is what I think Jie means. The characters that end up making their own choices are, in my opinion, Jie and Eleanor (at the end). The ones that clearly didn't were Mrs Fitt and Clarence. And the ones that are fuzzy and depend on your definition and interpretations are Daniel, Joseph, and Elijah.)
And a major thank you to Susan for doing this!!!