Welcome To The Secret Garden Party!!!

Welcome to the Secret Garden Party…. “SSSQQQQUUUEEE!”  Thank you to everyone who joined me on this adventure of reading The Secret Garden.  This was my first time through this book and I listened to it on audio. 

Here is how todays party will work:

For those of you who have signed on to do this read-a-long and are posting your reviews and thoughts today, the link to add your posts is below where it says click here.

Since this is a party… we have some fun giveaways – if you link your review that gives you one entry… for participating in the discussion questions you will get a second entry.


Whats up for the giveaway?

A new copy of The Secret Garden DVD

 

A new copy of Little Lord Faunterleroy (also written by Frances Hodgson Burnett)

 

Garden goodies!

 

 

Here are the questions for our discussion:

1.  When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?

2.  Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?

3.  Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?

4.  Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so?  In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?

5.  What role does the robin play in the book?

6.  How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel?   How does class and status?

7.  Which characters are most strongly associated with the world of the manor house? Which characters are most strongly associated with the secret garden? What does this opposition suggest?

8.  Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?

9.  Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be?  What did you enjoy most about this read?  What do you think makes it a classic?


(in the comments – you may answer as many or as few as the questions you like as well as add your own questions to the discussion.)

*Note ever if you have not participated in this read a long please feel free to participate in the conversation and respond to the questions – one non read a long participant who joins in the discussion in the comments will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

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All winners will be announced on Friday June 1st during the Morning Meanderings.

 

I would love your input on what our next party should be… please vote!

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Want To Be Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on May 31, 2012, in Book Giveaways and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. 1. When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?

    Because they weren’t real people to her, nobody is. She has spent this whole time being unloved and simply taken care of. They made sure she didn’t starve to death, but that’s just about it. She really never had any real kind of a relationship with her parents or anyone else for that matter. The closest analogy I can come up with is zoo keepers and caged animals. When the zoo keeper dies, the only thing the animal cares for is it’s next meal.

    2. Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?

    I’m one of those that always blames the parent for how children behave. If there is no discipline, which requires love and attention, the child is going to act like a brat. Both children are treated as after thoughts and children pick up on that, even if they really never think in those terms. Mary’s parents ignore out of pure neglect and Colin’s fathers ignores out of grief. Regardless of the reason though, both reasons are sad and unacceptable.

    3. Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?

    He is the example of what a child, raised in a home by a loving parent and strong family ties can be. He excudes the benefits of being outdoors and around nature, which (at least according to the book) is a healing balm.

    4. Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so? In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?

    Grief and habit. It’s very easy to allow grief to take over your world and when that happens, at least for most people, it takes over their lives. He had issues seeing past his own pain. As his son grew older and brattier, as a result of the parental neglect, it just became easier to put him off on others who were unable to control him because of the class difference. And I do think he deserved forgiveness, though I think the transformation of Mr. Craven at the end was a little fast.

    5. What role does the robin play in the book?

    The way a dog would have if Mary had one while she lived in India. Animals can be surrogate friends. They tend to show love and attention without regard for how you act or who you are. It gave her a focus.

    6. How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel? How does class and status?

    In the world Mary grew up in, class and status was everything. The author tore those structures away once Mary was installed in the manor house and allowed to see people as people and not merely agents of her wants. As far as the Indian aspect goes, it has more to do with the time the book was written.

    9. Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be? What did you enjoy most about this read? What do you think makes it a classic?

    Yes and no. I was surpised by how much I enjoyed it and was able to get into the story once I allowed myself to get past the “girliness” of it all.

    • Great thoughts here Ryan, I really like what you said about grief in #4 and I agree it was a quick change of heart.. I feel Mary softened him up a bit as the story goes on :)

      I also like your response to #8 about class and status. I feel this was a huge theme in the book and I love how the author shows that we are all equal.

      • I can honestly say I didn’t put too much thought into the Uncle, but now that I’m thinking about it, I do think his transformation was just a bit too fast. I think I feel the same way about the way the author uses nature as a catalyst for the change in the kids, I think it would do the trick, but not as fast as it happens in the book. I loved the fact the characters changed, and while I was reading the book never thought too much about the speed of it, it just felt right given the context we were given as readers. But when the read is over and you think about it, it may bet just a tad too much change.

        Either way, I loved the book and am willing to give my willinging suspension of disbelief on the topic.

        • I didnt notice the fast pace other than the Uncle coming around in the end, but then I think he wanted to love his son, he just did not know how. The positive changes in Colin had to be a delight to him.
          The entire book takes place over one summer – am I correct on this? I do not recall…

          • I think you are right on the time span, though Colins transformation is way faster than Mary’s given the time difference between the two characters meeting for the first time. I’m just not sure years and years of behavior can be eradicated in a few months. I’m not taking issue with it, because I do think it’s works within the confines of the story, I just think of analyzing it way too mcuh now :-)

  2. 1. When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?

    Since Mary was shown little affection be her parents while growing up, she really doesn’t feel anything toward them when they’re gone. For a child who has been isolated and shoved aside, this is probably a normal reaction. She doesn’t know her parents, so why should she care?

    2. Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?

    I think both kids are selfish and spoiled. While the parents definitely have a huge part in that (Mary’s parents gave her servants to do her bidding and set no ground rules, and Colin’s father has allowed him to stay hidden away in a room where those who come visit him must fulfill his every want), there is also some blame on the kids themselves. Granted, they don’t know any better, but you would think common decency would show them not to act that way. Once they have the ability to change, you can see how both Mary and Colin question that-their actions and how they relate to others around them. There is that scene where Mary yells at Colin, and I think that scene truly shows how she has learned how to treat others.

    3. Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?

    Dickon really represents nature and second chances. He takes in and cares for animals that would probably die without his aid. He gives these animals a second chance and guides them towards a happier existence, which is also what Mary is after in her life in England. He also represents the things that Mary has come to love-the outdoors, nature, and growth.

    4. Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so? In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?

    Craven has hidden Colin in fear that he will be the same as him. He doesn’t want to remember him or be reminded of his wife. I think, in the end, that Craven has realized he can’t continue to hide from Colin or the past. He knows that he must begin to love Colin in the way that he deserves, and by seeking Colin out when he returns home, proves that.

    5. What role does the robin play in the book?

    I really love the robin. :) He helps to heal Mary when she first begins exploring the outdoors. He is the first being that Mary cares about other than herself, and he is the one who shows her the garden and the key.

    6. How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel? How does class and status?

    The novel definitely includes some aspect of class. Mary and Colin are both fortunate to be born into families with money. This has allowed them to become spoiled and selfish. It is only once they both interact with individuals from other classes, like Dickon and the gardener, that they realize their own priviledge and status.

    I also really liked that Burnett showed some aspects of British citizens in India. That whole colonization effort is something I don;t know too much about, but after reading this (and some of Forster’s Passage to India), it is a topic I want to look at more closely.

    7. Which characters are most strongly associated with the world of the manor house? Which characters are most strongly associated with the secret garden? What does this opposition suggest?

    The adults are more centered on the manor house and the faily dealings of running it. The kids are forced outdoors to play and explore. I think this really shows the difference between adults and children. Childrens till have the ability to play and grow, while adults work and stay stagnant.

    8. Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?

    I think Mary is a very likable protagonist for children, in that we have all felt a bit like her at some point. She suffers from boredom and not knowing what to do, as well as growth and change. The novel also contains a bit of magical quality to it that kids find appealing (I know I did as a child): the robin, the garden, Dickon’s ability to heal and talk with animals, and Colin’s ability to change and challenege himself to walk. But it also has a lot of heartwarming aspects that I noticed reading this as an adult-the loneliness of both Mary and Colin and the knowledge that adults had something to do with that. The sturggles of grief on part of Craven. All of those things went over my head as a child, but I really keyed in on them as an adult.

    9. Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be? What did you enjoy most about this read? What do you think makes it a classic?

    I really enjoyed experiencing the book as an adult. Since it had been so long since I’d read it, it was like reading it for the first time. Sometimes I am wary of revisting books from my childhood, but this has made me want to read others that I loved as a girl. I also want to seek out more of Burnett’s works-for adults and children.

    Thank you for hosting such a lovely readalong and Garden Party!

    • I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this and wanted to ask whether or not it’s fair to put some of the blame on the kids, when there was nobody around to teach them any better. I understand common decency, but if they don’t see examples of it, how would they know about it?

      • I definitely believe that parents have a huge influence on kids and their behavior, but as a teacher, I also know that kids have a say in the matter as well. I have had some kids who were terrors with the most caring and loving parents, and vice versa.

        • In a classroom setting that makes sense, because they see other kids behaving in a different way. For Mary and Colin, they have nobody else to look to for guidance. They are set out on their own and when they act bratty, and nobody corrects it, they think that is normal. It’s only once they are around others who do make them understand it’s not correct behavior that they start to change.

          I agree I do think kids have a say in the matter, but they need some sort of guidance on correct behavior, either from a parent/teacher or their peers. With no example, I think that’s asking too much.

          • Great points both Allie and Ryan – Allie I love that you are coming in from a teachers perspective. Having two grown boys I know how hard it was to keep them on the straight and narrow once the “friends” factor in… it can be hard as we can not choose their friends.

            And Ryan you cover this point well too – without the influence of other children, Mary and Colin only had the adults in their life to set examples for them and in both their cases, the adults were non existent as far as any sort of nurturing.

            As I write this it is dawning on me that Dickons role in the book is an even more important one than I initially had considered… he really becomes that “friend” both Mary and Colin need.

            • I agree about Dickon’s role. I think even more than the nature/garden, he was the example (through stories about him and his mother from the maid) that Mary was given as a child who did behave correctly. Then when they met for the first time, his friendship, with no strings attached, cemented those behavioral patterns in her head which in turn helped when she started dealing with Colin. The friendship betweent he children is one of the best aspects of the book.

    • Hi Allie, you are so right (#2), they are spoiled brats in the beginning aren’t they? I start out now really liking either one of them. I was more understanding of Mary because of her situation…. Colin took a while longer for me to warm up to.

      I really enjoyed Dickon’s role int he book… as someone who cares about the animals he wins my heart :)

  3. Thanks fr these great questions!
    Sorry right now I only have little chunks of time, in between French classes I teach online!, so I’ll be coming back several times, when I can, to cover all the questions.
    1. When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?
    The author does not refer to Mary receiving any love from her parents, so her heart has not been open yet to caring for anyone else but herself. No wonder she can only worry about herself at that point in her life.

    2. Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?
    I guess this ties with the absence of love I mentioned in my 1st answer. Neglected by their parents, these children consider that the whole word should be focused on themselves, much more than it usually is for young children. They thus want everyone to do their every whim. Plus illness is also a source of ill-temper.
    Yes, in this book, we could say that salvation comes from the children. It is through them that some adults will recover from their “fallen world”, and re-enter a more healthy life and relationship with those around them.

    more later!

    • I couldn’t agree more and I’ll be curious to see what else you have to say on this.

    • So glad you are joining in today! I had work all day and a big commitment this evening so am just now getting to see what happened here – I wish I could have been more involved in the discussion all day – it looks wonderful.

      I love how you say salvation is from the children in this book.

  4. 1. When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?
    I think that she didn’t have any sort of relationship with them. She never was near them long enough to form any sort of attachment. She was passed along to other people to raise, therefore when her family died, she had no real reason to mourn. She has always had people there to cater to her whims, she was a pretty spoiled child it seemed, so when there’s no one there to take care of her she has no idea what to do with herself. :( Pretty sad actually.

    I did not finish in time to answer all the questions, but I do like what I’ve read so far! I will continue reading! Thanks Sheila! :)

  5. I picked up this book too late to take part, but I’m definitely curious. I’ll link back to you this weekend, ’cause it’s your fault I picked the book up at all. Ha! I mean, thx!!

  6. 1. When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?
    Mary’s parents didn’t really take care of her. They weren’t a huge part of her life. Her caretakers, the people who coddled her were a much bigger part of her life.

    2. Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?

    Burnett definitely holds the parents responsible. In both cases, the parents are not firm fixtures in Mary and Colin’s lives. The parents let other people take care of their children and almost seem to see the children as a burden. The parents in the book seem really self-centered and even though the children are mostly cared for by caretakers, they also seem self-centered because they don’t seem to know any other way.

    3. Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?

    We can see how judgmental Mary is at first even though she had told Martha that she really already liked him and wanted to meet him. Dickon is the very definition of being one with nature. Mary never really played outside in India and Burnett writes a lot about how unhealthy she is for it. Dickon practically lives outside and is the very picture of health.

    4. Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so? In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?

    I do think that Mr. Craven missed his wife and Colin was hard for him to look at because he looked so much like his mother. But I do think that Mr. Craven was very self-centered to leave Colin alone for so long in the care of only his caretakers. He sort of abandons Colin in that big lonely house. It’s so sad that a parent could do that!

    5. What role does the robin play in the book?

    The robin is the adventurer and the teacher. He begins to open Mary up to being a nicer person. He also shows her the garden and sets the book on a happier trajectory.

    6. How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel? How does class and status?

    In India, Mary is taught that she’s better than her caretakers. She can basically do whatever she wants without consequence because she holds a higher position. Class and class separation was very prevalent in India during the time that Mary was there and to a degree, still is today. When Mary comes to England, she learns that she must treat the English staff with respect and that things are different there. However, class is still very much apparent.

    7. Which characters are most strongly associated with the world of the manor house? Which characters are most strongly associated with the secret garden? What does this opposition suggest?

    Colin, out of all of the characters, is most associated with the manor house. He never leaves the house because he is so scared of the outside world. His father at least travels. Dickon is most associated with the Secret Garden. He is the one that gets Mary interested in coming out in to the garden and turning it in to something beautiful and magical.

    8. Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?

    I think the magic aspect is one way that Burnett engages children. When we’re young, we like to believe in the fantastic. We get more realistic as we age mostly but we still want to believe in that magic. I think as adults, we can look back at this book and see ourselves in the innocence of the children. It’s an age old story of embracing the good things in life and allowing those good things to shape us more than the bad things shape us.

    9. Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be? What did you enjoy most about this read? What do you think makes it a classic?

    This was a re-read for me. I loved it as much as I did when I read it a couple times as a little one. I loved remembering all of the characters and their transitions. I loved all of the descriptions of the setting, mostly of the garden. It’s just gorgeous! I love the idea of a secret garden too.

    • I love the way you answered question 8

    • I really love question #7… it is interesting to see which world each child/character connects to and how their personality reflects that as such – Colin feels he is better than others and expects to be catered too (Manor) where as Dickon has a pleasant quiet personality (secret garden)

  7. 3. Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?
    I loved that description, and this is what I see as significant in it:
    – the boy can express himself easily: he is already mature at some level, maturity engendered by the fact of growing in a loving and caring family
    – this is a shock encounter for Mary, something new is happening here: for the first time, she has an inkling that someone may like her; and she meets her anti-persona: someone who is not totally self-focused to the point of wanting others to love him at any cost. He is who he is.
    – he was a common boy, simply clad, poor: his “healthiness” is like an anti theme to the rich society Mary comes from, where adults don’t care about children or others. In his poorer milieu, closer to nature, Dickon has the freedom to be himself, and he is innerly mature.
    – and of course he introduces the whole theme of nature, to the point of quasi identification. we have the hint here that this is the beginning of an opening of Mary to a world outside of herself: after her sense of smell is opening

  8. 4. Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so? In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?
    I think he had maybe experienced love in too much a selfish way, and then when grief came in, he did not know how to handle it in a healthy way and remained focused on his own grief, his own self.
    He also matures and grows in the book, and deserves forgiveness, as we all do if we accept to grow. But as someone mentioned it earlier, it is a bit too quick and could have been developed a bit more. But the book focuses more on the growth of the children than the adults.

    • Excellent point that the book is more about the childrens growth than the adults although the subtle changes in the adults add to the allure of the book as well. Cravin, as anyone, is worth forgiveness and I think where it all ends you can see he and Colin are on their way to repairing their relationship.

  9. 5. What role does the robin play in the book?
    Me too, I love the robin!! He is like the attentive messenger, opening Mary to another world, showing her the way, teaching her about the whimsical element of life.
    I just published my review of the very recent adaptation of The Secret Garden: the Humming Room, by Ellen Potter. This is a neat adaptation, I think, and in it, the robin role is played by a great blue heron! cool! well, I love birds, I do a lot of birding, and I had another bird companion when I planted our vegetable garden recently. see in my review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/05/31/2012-25-review-the-humming-room/
    and if it’s ok to add to the questions, have you read The Humming Room? what do you think about the way she adapted the classic Secret Garden?

  10. Well, I fell behind on my reading this last week of school so I can’t answer all of the questions. Regarding the first one, I think that Mary did not learn how to be considerate, affectionate, and loving because she had nobody to teach that to her. She wasn’t able to internalize any of those things because she didn’t see it being modeled for her and toward her. After teaching for 8 years I can honestly say that children tend to grow up to be like their parents and they are a product of their raising. Not to say that some can’t break the mold but for the most part-You do what you see being done. :)

    I will be interested to find out what happens to Mary along her journey-I can’t believe I have never read this book before!! :)

    Shannon
    http://www.irunreadteach.wordpress.com

    • {After teaching for 8 years I can honestly say that children tend to grow up to be like their parents and they are a product of their raising. Not to say that some can’t break the mold but for the most part-You do what you see being done.}

      I couldn’t agree more and I do think the responsibility of a child’s behavior, rests on the shoulders of the parents.

    • I hope you continue to enjoy the book Shannon… I really did and it is fun to see what we all are pulling out of it through this discussion.

  11. 6. How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel? How does class and status?
    I feel like the class and status theme is very important here, with maybe too much of a black and white presentation: the rich, both in Indian and England, do not seem to care too much about others, they are self-centered, they do not seem to live life to the full, they are unhappy; whereas the poor are very happy with whatever little they have, they are full of life and strength, they enjoy connecting with others, and are even happy sharing with others, even though they may not have a lot to eat everyday.

  12. I have nothing to add to the answers already given to #7.

    8. Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?
    I think this book speaks to children because of the geographical element: going to another country; combined with the secret theme: discovering a new and secret place. As a kid, I also loved observing things, and being led to discover new things. Plus, it’s a secret place that adults are first not part of. it is important for children to have a private domain where adults cannot go in. Also of course the fact that the main characters are children, and that the lives of the adult characters revolve around them, and even more evolve thanks to them!
    Does it speak today as much to city kids as this book would have talked to me when I was a kid living in a tiny village in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere? not sure. I would be interested in the reaction of city kids reading this book in 2012.
    The worth of the book is that it speaks both to children and adults. I believe adults can still be fascinated by the secret and magic element, i was; and the character development is a theme that I may not have seen deeply enough as a kid.
    Hmm, what makes a book a classic? This is a vast and fascinating question, that I can’t address here. But I will definitely think about it

    • That secret thing appeals to me too… love the thought of something being off limits, or hardly touched… unknown…in that sense I think it appeals to adults as well. Excellent point about how children like to have a place to call their own – no adults allowed!

  13. 9. Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be? What did you enjoy most about this read? What do you think makes it a classic?
    Not having been raised in an English speaking world, I unfortunately had not heard about The Secret Garden as a kid. I discovered it a few months ago thanks to Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden.
    What I enjoyed most was the natural theme: things growing, people growing in harmony and thanks to it, in the company of birds, and how nature makes people “natural”, in the sense of real, authentic, healthy, not superficial.
    Thanks so very much for all these great questions.
    I will check again your answers later in the day. this is a neat way of sharing about a book, if we cannot be available for a chunk of time in a chat room

  14. If any of you have read also The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton, and The Humming Room, by Ellen Potter, i would be very interested in knowing what you think about the different way The Secret Garden inspired these 2 books, and how it was adapted.
    Here are my 2 reviews:
    http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/05/03/2012-21-review-the-forgotten-garden/
    http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/05/31/2012-25-review-the-humming-room/

  15. adding my own question to the conversation…
    did other readers pick up on Frances’ promotion of the Christian Science beliefs she turned to in her depressions?
    and if so, how do you feel about that promotion to children?
    eg- Colin’s declaration of being a scientist and beginning a science experiment of which they were all to be a part. Followed by his enacting the role of a priest with the repetitive chanting as they marched around the garden…

    • Would a child actually pick up on that, at least as far as being an actualy belief of a religious denomenation. I’m not sure I ever would have thought about it or even noticed that aspect, but I do find it fascinating how often an authors personal beliefs make it into a story, even if not always on purpose.

    • Good question! I did pick up on that vibe towards the end -their was quite a bit in there, treating the Garden itself as a higher power… the magic aspect goes a little far towards the end as well and it was not until I had finished the book that I had read about Frances’ own beliefs.
      As far as the promotion to children, I would hope they have a good parental influence in their lives who reads the book with them and can talk to them about any thoughts they may have on magic and spirituality.

    • I didn’t pick up the Christian Science part until the end. I was focusing more on the fairy tale qualities of the book … the chanting part was a bit of a surprise. I think most young children would gloss over that unless it was pointed out and discussed with them.

  16. Mary legitimately “expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?”. She was never bonded to her mother at birth nor throughout her life as the mother led a self indulgent life as if she was childless. She had no regard for her daughter whatsoever and had abandoned her. THere would have been no reason for Mary to grieve as there had never been a familial attachment.

    Mary’s interest in “who will now take care of her” would be a natural concern. Everyone she’d known has been removed from her life and having been born and raised in a country foreign to any relatives, she would not know what to expect. Her entire life has depended on who would take care of her as she had been deprived of the familial security of natural parental care.

    • Very true… Mary in the beginning is quite… dull if you ask me. :D Her whole being comes off as almost a voice of boredom… when I think about this par of the book it seems like Mary really never gets worked up… it is more of a “now what?”

  17. Q2- Why are both of these children so ill-tempered?
    B/c they have been left to raise themselves. They have both been abandoned and left to their own devices. THere has been no example set before them of proper behaviour and responses corrected as necessary – what is and what isn’t acceptable.
    They have lived unloved with all the implications. No softening, gentling, warm and encouraging reprimands nor cheers. They are the unfortunate yet very real example of what children are like when left to themselves…They were allowed to have their own way, condoned by the servants, and permitted by the parents. But getting one’s way does not make anyone happy :)

    Q2b- Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents?
    the parents

    Q2c- How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?
    definitely a very real example and perhaps, cautionary warning of the result of that ‘fallenness’.

  18. Q3- “…there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.”
    Q3a- What is significant about this passage?
    It is an opposite to that painted of Mary. Dickon is a healthy, whole and wholesome character of confidence. The complete opposite of our colourless and sickly Mary.
    “It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head.”
    Pictures the reality of Dickon enforcing the characterization of confidence while introducing the class differentiation of the era giving Dicken a position that society of the day would have denied.
    What also is significant about this passage is the author’s beliefs in Christian Science being evidenced here in her picturing the goodness of nature and its effects on people and places.
    Q3b- Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?
    Definitely the connection to and with nature and animals. Dickon’s apparent ability to converse with the animals, birds and oneness with creation.

  19. Q4- Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so?
    Colin is the everpresent reminder of his life’s greatest loss. Colin’s very appearance is that of his wife. Colin’s birth is at the cost of the life of The ONe he had chosen to love and live with for the rest of his life. To Mr Craven, Colin is the cause of that life loss. Seeing Colin is a reminder of all that he’s lost, thus avoiding Colin is Mr. Craven’s protection from pain. Avoiding Colin is his way to control his sense of loss.

    Q4b- In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?
    We don’t necessarily forgive for the other’s sake, We forgive for our own need to be free. Whether Craven is worthy or not, Colin needs to live in freedom. Which in turn sets the other free…

  20. Q5- What role does the robin play in the book?
    The robin plays the role of a messenger – a guide that is well connected to humans and interested in them. It is given a larger than life persona that is quite possibly based on the author’s beliefs as well as her personal experience of having a robin guide her to the ivy covered door of an enclosed garden that had been hidden for many years at her home, the Great Maytham Hall .

  21. Q8- Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children?
    tales of faraway – different lands and people, traditions, descriptions of local dialects and characters – using the children as protagonists – making them actively involved in their lives with voices they employed [in a world where they would have normally been “seen and NOT heard”. Here’s a CS Lewis quote that adds understanding…

    “At all ages, if [fantasy and myth] is used well by the author and meets the right reader, it has the same power: to generalize while remaining concrete, to present in palpable form not concepts or even experiences but whole classes of experience, and to throw off irrelevancies. But at its best it can do more; it can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of ‘commenting on life,’ can add to it.” ― C.S. Lewis

    Q8b- Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well?
    loving these cs lewis quotes relative to this ~

    “You and I who still enjoy fairy tales have less reason to wish actual childhood back. We have kept its pleasures and added some grown-up ones as well.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays

    “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” ~ C.S. Lewis

    Q8c- What makes it a classic?
    probably b/c it continues to engage readers 100+ yrs later. Our imaginations and experiences as we read bring us back not only to our own childhoods, to the world of our own imaginings…

  22. I am crazy busy today but had to pop in and say thanks for the push I needed to finally read this book, I LOVED it!

  23. Q9- Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be?
    It was more, to me, b/c the theatre productions cannot convey all the details contained in the book.

    Q9b- What did you enjoy most about this read?
    Definitely a delite to read of Martha and her mother, the vivid descriptions that develop Dickon, the Yorkshire dialect which i’ve experienced for myself bringing back memories in the reading… i’m very appreciative of this motivation to read the actual story – Thank you!

    Q9c- What do you think makes it a classic?
    That it calls us back in time with an accuracy of detail that enchants giving a sense of appreciation for where we’ve come regarding children and an appreciation for the children and people of the story. As well as it’s value for creation and its beauty. It’s a classic b/c it continues to create followers who love the experience :)

  24. Great discussions!! Q9- Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be?
    I loved this book as a girl.. my mom read it to me. It is a wonderful memory that I have.

    Q9b- What did you enjoy most about this read?
    I loved the characters. I just thought the book did an excellent job of making me care about each one.

    Q9c- What do you think makes it a classic? Personally I think the innocence of the book makes it a classic. We all remember having mini adventures at this age and I think kids love it because the author does such a good job of making you feel like you are right there present with everyone!

  25. What a wonderful turnout you’ve had for this read-along! I’m so glad that you suggested it – it was nice to revisit a book that I thought I didn’t like – I know find, that with age (ahem, maturity) I know understand it a bit better!

  26. I love this book so much I have reread it many times and I enjoyed this time too. I always feel bad for Mary and Colin because even though they have been well provided for their emotional needs have not. I once heard that love to children is spelled TIME. Anyway I am also fascinated by the idea of a secret garden. I love the language in the book too. The author does a good job of showing how Mary and Colin change. It is amazing how something like working in a garden outside can change someone. It will always be a classic to me. I wish kids today could appreciate it and love it too.

  27. By the way, if you (or anyone else) wants to do this with Black Beauty by Anna Sewell or Heidi by Johanna Spyri, I’m game. Much like this one, I bought these books because they were classics and less than $2 each in hardcover so I snatched them up. I still haven’t had a push to read them, but this opportunity has upped my interest in them. I think a discussion like this would be fun with either one of them.

  28. I wasn’t part of this read-a-long (I’ve been away from blogging for awhile), but just finished reading this delightful book to my 2nd grade class. They loved it! I posted about it on my blog yesterday, and I’m going to soon post some photos of the little art project they did after we finished reading it. Wonderful book for a read-a-long or a read aloud!

  29. Sheila, as the party comes to an end and we must pack up the tents and put the leftover food away, I want to thank for being a gracious hostess and putting this all together. It was a lot of fun.

    • Thanks Ryan! :D Clean up is the worst right? :D We will be doing a big bash when I get back from New York… the big 3rd year anniversary party! I will save some of the party supplies for then :D

  30. I was unable to participate as the discussion earlier as today was the first of five days I will be on duty here at Mom’s while my sister is out of town. I really should be calling it a day right now too so I can’t go down the list as so many have but I’d like to add a few thoughts that I didn’t see already mentioned above.

    I recognized in Mary of the first chapters the children with attachment disorders that my sister works with. When the bonding with a primary caregiver in the first three years is disrupted or non-existent due to neglect, abuse, illness or neurological issues the child’s ability to relate to others as entities with needs and feelings like their own is stunted. Empathy may be missing. They tend to ‘live’ in their hind brain where emotion unrestrained by reason rules more than the frontal lobe where reason and the ability to comprehend cause and effect is.

    Why is no one talking about Martha? It seems to me that it is Martha’s relating to Mary that prepares the way for all the rest. She is the first one to nurture Mary in an appropriate manner. Tho she notes the child’s issues she exudes acceptance while gently nudging her in the direction of more autonomy where such is expected ie teasing her as to how her very young sister can already put on her own stockings. And that wonderfully wise: ‘How do thy like thyself.’ Martha is the one who sent her outside to play. And all those stories of her siblings and her mother were no accident either. They are on a par with the parable of Jesus. They are testament to the power of story to effect real change in a person’s soul.

    While I was reading the book aloud to Mom after dinner and came to the scene where Mary first entered the garden and the description of it and her reaction to it it hit me like a lightning bolt that the garden was a metaphor for her psyche. Neglected, left to grow untended, unbounded, unnurtured, locked away, unseen by others. This is what called to her and opened her up to receive its blessings. As she begins to tend it she is tending her own soul as she learns to care about and nurture something other than her own ego.

    The robin is a winged creature which are often symbols of spirit in literature. Especially of Burnette’s era.

    I believe Burnette was using nature as a symbol of or to showcase the importance of nurture. Every living, growing thing must be nurtured to thrive and every one of them is in a matrix of other living, growing things and dependent upon the well-being of those others for their own well-being. Dickon is the consummate nurturer.

    Burnette is not an advocate of letting nature rule as in the proverbial law of the jungle. She obviously believes it needs to be tended and trained for the sake of both beauty and usefulness. Whether the nature in question is biological or psychological.

    I find Mr Craven’s name interesting. To be craven is to have a character driven by fear. Cowardly and weak and willing to sacrifice integrity for a sense of safety no matter how illusory. Keep in mind when considering his behavior and character that he was raised by the servant class himself. That was the way it was done in the British aristocracy then.

    I wonder if Colin and Mary don’t act as mirrors reflecting unlovely behavior back to be recognized and changed.

    wow one thot leads to another. and I haven’t even finished the book yet. can’t wait until its time to read to Mom again. :) But if I don’t get to bed like NOW I’ll be setting myself up for another long sleep deprived day which is not good when remaining calm and competent is paramount.

    • Wow Joy! I am reading your comments here going… “Yes! Yeah thats right!” Great insight! When you said the garden was a metaphor for her psyche, I think you hit that right on. I dont why we are not talking about Martha… I guess to me she seemed so mild and secondary I lost her in the other things going on around Mary that stood out more.

  31. 1) Mary was too removed from her parents, by their own actions, for her to care about them. She saw her nanny as more important, though even then I don’t think she cares all that much. Though she’s been so used to getting looked after in every way and doing nothing for herself, as well as being selfish, having someone there is all she’ll think is important.

    2) I’d say in both cases the parents were to blame, in Mary’s it’s that her parents didn’t make the effort to know her, and in Colin’s his father let his upset over his wife rule him so much that he couldn’t really see how he was effecting his child, or that he needed to be there for him more. This links up to why Craven avoided Colin. As to whether he was worthy of forgiveness, good question. It suits the target age of the book to have him forgiven, and of course saying that one shouldn’t forgive parents wouldn’t be an acceptable idea in a children’s book of that time. He could be worthy, if he continued to make it up to him, but whether it would be useful in the long-run is something else.

    9) The book was more than I thought it would be, more magical both literally and symbolically, and the descriptions made for some amazing imaginary pictures. I think it’s the message and the fantasy that make it a classic.

  32. I…totally missed the boat. I did NOT adequately judge my social schedule for the month of May and found myself realizing that yesterday was in fact the last day of the month and I hadn’t even STARTED the book! I really have no idea where the time went.

    The good news is I will have more time next month (I think). Ugh, I’m so disappointed in myself!

  33. I was totally amazed at both the complexity and simplicity of this book. On the surface there is a beautiful children’s story, but dig a little deeper and there are many lessons and much symbolism. I was starting to have flashbacks to the literature classes I took many, many years ago.

    Robin Redbreast was my favorite character. Anyone who knows me, or has visited my blog, knows I love birds and spend a lot of time around them. The author captured the spirit of the robin and did a perfect job of describing his point of view. It was obvious to me she must have spent at least a little time around birds, or was very observant. Birds know who to trust, and they do have a language. They always protect the Eggs first and are wary of anyone who doesn’t understand ‘feathered speak’. I like to think I’d be the female version of Dickon in the garden. :)

    I’m looking forward to the next read-a-long. I haven’t read any of the choices yet and hopefully they are available on audio so I can squeeze them in.

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  1. Pingback: (2012) #24 book review: The Secret Garden « Words And Peace

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