For those that have read ??The Story of Edgar Sawtelle?? (spoilers!!!!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 08-30-2008, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
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WARNING: Do not proceed unless you have read the story - unless you enjoy knowing what happened first LOL

what do you think the ending meant? While it was so sad that Edgar died, I also thought it was beautiful and poetic the way he and Almondine “made up” ; I got the sense that Edgar would finally be at peace and be with his dad and Almondine, finally understanding each other and experiencing no more pain. I cried when Edgar was finally able to say “I love you” when he “was on the other side”

Some ?s:
1)What do you think happened to Trudy? The dogs saw her and imagined that she was about to turn into a dove/birdlike creature IIRC. I took this as meaning she had suffered so much that it was too much for her and she wasn't long for the world at that point. That she would give up her spirit like a dove and fly to be “home” with her Sawtelle men, where her heart really was

2)why did Claude seem to embrace death in the barn? I felt that he was so tormented by what he had done while living that he welcomed death cuz the pain would end. IIRC I remember a conversation between Edgar/Trudy re: heaven/hell and she wasn't sure she believed in them in the biblical sense, more of something you had “to decide for yourself”. So I saw Claude's death in that sense as his life coming to an end, no hell to go to, just “the end”. Gar/Edgar/Almondine, OTOH, seemed to “go on” to me, as spirits, since Gar was in the barn at the end and Almondine was with Edgar, waiting for him.

3)what did the final chapter mean to you? It made me think of Jack London stories, particularly “The Call of the Wild” where man just can't tame nature after all and nature reclaims everything, JMHO. The dogs were repeatedly described as witnesses to everything. Did they symbolize God watching? These dogs were taught to think, to make their own decisions. Was it their decision to go back to nature and turn their backs on breeding? Edgar “found himself” in the wild and made his own decision to go home. Were the dogs doing this now? Was Forte real or his grandfathers spirit leading them? I didn't take the last chap 100% literally, a bunch of domesticated dogs “gone feral” would most likely lead to them dying of injury/starvation/being shot after attacking neighborhood farms/homes for food, I sensed that something bigger/metaphorical was being said. What did you think?
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#2 of 4 Old 08-31-2008, 01:50 PM
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The story makes a lot more sense when you realize it's a takeoff of Hamlet (Shakespeare).

The deaths in the novel parallel the deaths in Hamlet. And yes, I think Trudy dies, because her corresponding character in Hamlet dies.

(Actually, it's "Hamlet with dogs" because the dogs aren't in Hamlet.)

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#3 of 4 Old 09-01-2008, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks A&A! I haven't studied/read "Hamlet" since HS and badly need some brushing up on it LOL

I also saw essence/elements of "Where the Red Fern Grows" (with the coming of age boy and his dogs going out in nature, the close bonds, etc) and "The Call of the Wild" (final chapter mirroring Buck choosing the wolves/nature)
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#4 of 4 Old 11-18-2008, 10:25 PM
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I wasn't entirely pleased with the ending of this book. I don't mind so much that Edgar dies, or that the dogs run away, or whatever else. What REALLY really bothered me was that Glen went totally against character while holding Trudy down. Glen may have been panicked but it makes no sense he would have held her down. This was a cheap cop-out to keep Trudy down so Edgar and Claude could both die and the dogs could run away.

I know this sounds crazy, but it's as if the author couldn't fathom that the only woman character (aside from the "witch" Ida Paine) could possibly be the ultimate hero. Glen was a passive, ultimately gentle man. He knew both Claude and Edgar were in that barn, and he did not want to kill them. I think the author put in this preposterous twist out of laziness.

On the Oprah boards (which I found horribly frustrating), the people all thought the dogs were going to Henry's... Like he'd take over breeding? I think that's silly too. Though possible of course. Essay leads them the way Edgar lead them. Edgar did not lead them to Henry's, Henry's was an accident. Edgar was going into nature, to disappear.

My evidence for this is that they say teh dogs are "going back"... They're headed back the way they came, to nature. And this reflects the letter between the two dog breeding guys generations ago. The "new dog"... The fact that dogs can't be made better for people, that people need to be made better for dogs. Dogs are just dogs.

Also, Essay wouldn't go back to Henry's because she'd always wanted to be in the wild. She came back from her last day of exploration with Edgar in the woods with blood on her muzzle. She was ready to be a true Canine.

I wish the ending could have been that Trudy was released by a compassionate Glen, who was compassionate in his nature, she ran in and Claude was gone, she pulls out Edgar. Whether E dies or lives, I'm not sure. I do think the dogs should have run and been wild, led by Essay. But perhaps Opal could have stayed with Trudy or Edgar or both.

It's man vs nature and nature always has to win. That was achieved here, but there was so much preposterousness to the way it happened that it bugged me. However we should have known it would happen as Ida did warn him not to go back. He knew it, and he chose to go back, he knew he could die. And maybe his life was always supposed to be right next to Almondine. She was born just before him, she had to die just before him.

But the other thing that bugged me was that by following Gar's advice, Edgar was killed. This makes no sense. No sense at all. Gar showed him how to open the hatch to let the smoke out (which helped kill Claude, that makes sense) but why would a message from the benevolent father kill the prodigal son????

I want to address your questions, they're great ones, but I had to get that out about the ending!!! I've had no one to talk to about it, and the Oprah boards about it just don't seem like they'd be able to understand what I"m saying to challenge or agree (maybe I'm wrong!)

thanks for reading all that!
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