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A B IRD IN THE H OUSE. T HEME Death and Afterlife: He didnt need to be saved, I went on coldly, distinctly. And he is not in heaven, because there is.

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Presentation on theme: "A B IRD IN THE H OUSE. T HEME Death and Afterlife: He didnt need to be saved, I went on coldly, distinctly. And he is not in heaven, because there is."— Presentation transcript:


2 T HEME Death and Afterlife: He didnt need to be saved, I went on coldly, distinctly. And he is not in heaven, because there is no heaven. And it doesnt matter, see? It doesnt matter! Pg. 105 What do you think about all that stuff, Dad? I asked hesitantly as I walked. What stuff, honey? Oh Heaven and Hell, and like that. My father laughed. Have you been listening to Noreen to much? Well, I dont know. I dont think theyre actual places. Maybe they stand for something that happens all the time here, or else doesnt happen. Its kind of hard to explain. I guess Im not so good at explanations. Pg. 101 [Near the Cross, near the Cross, Be my glory ever, Till my ransomed should shall find Rest beyond the river.] I thought I was going to cry, but I did not know why, except that the song recalled to me my Grandmother Connor, who had been dead only a year now. I wondered why her soul needed to be ransomed. If God did not think she was good enough just as she was, then I did not have much use for His opinion. Pg. 100

3 T HEME / F IRST AND LAST LINES Guilt: Looking at Noreen now, I suddenly recalled the sparrow, I felt physically sick, remembering the fearful darting and plunging of those wings, and the fact that it was I who had opened the window to let it in. Pg. 104 First Line: The parade would be almost over by now, and I had not gone. If continued by one more sentence: My mother had said in a resigned voice, All right Vanessa, if thats the way you feel, making me suffer twice as many jabs of guilt as I would have done if she had lost her temper Pg. 87 Last Line: As I watched the smile of the girl turn into scorched paper, I grieved for my father as though he had just died now.

4 S ETTING In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however it was sorry. Pg.90 Something about the house had always made me uneasy-that tower room where Grandmother MacLeods potted plants drooped in a lethargic and lime-green confusion, those long stairways and hidden places, the attic which I had always imagined to be dwelt in by the spirits of the family dead, the gigantic portrait of the Duke of Wellington at the top of the stairs. It was never an endearing house. And yet when it was no longer ours…I went out of my way to avoid walking past, for it seemed to me that the house had lost the stern dignity that was its very heart. Pg. 106 Mood: The mood of this story becomes foreboding and creates curiosity to the reader once Noreen says that a bird in the house means a death in the house, feeling already sympathetic for the death of Vanessas grandmother, you start worrying for the health of Vanessas father. After his death the remainder of the chapter details the grief of Ewens death and Vanessas guilt surrounding her role in Ewens death.

5 P LOT Vanessa decides not to go to the Remembrance parade, feeling guilty she learns more of Roderick and her fathers time in the war Beth goes back to work to help the family through the depression, the family gets a hired girl, Noreen, to take care of Vanessa. Noreen and Vanessa discuss religion and communicate with spirits Vanessa rescues a bird trapped in her storm window, Noreen says this will cause a death in the house Vanessa goes with her father to church, learning of his disbelief in heaven or hell Vanessas father gets sick with the flu, later develops pneumonia and dies, Vanessa does not attend his funeral Vanessa feels guilty for causing her fathers death and attacks Noreen, she gives up in religion The MacLeod house could no longer be afforded, it was sold and Grandmother MacLeod moved to Winnipeg, Beth, Vanessa, and Roderick were to live in the Brick House with Grandfather Connor When Vanessa is seventeen she discovers a letter in her fathers desk. Implying a former relationship he had during the first world war.

6 T ITLE S IGNIFICANCE /S YMBOLS Title/Bird: The title is a reference to Noreen saying A bird in the house means a death in the house Pg. 98 The bird was trapped in the storm window, then trapped in the house attempting to get free, the bird represents the many characters of the story as they struggle like the bird to escape their own prisons. This could also mean that the storm window is a symbol of a prison, such as Grandfather Connors house and Manawaka for Aunt Edna and Vanessa, or Chris and Piquettes upbringing. Picture and Letter: I looked for a long time at the girl, and hoped she had meant some momentary and unexpected freedom. I remembered what he had said to me, after I hadnt gone to the Remembrance Day parade Pg. 107 This symbol made Vanessa understand her father better, he had a life during the war, he had freedom that was not shown to Vanessa because of his life as a family man.

7 C HARACTERIZATION Noreen My father need not be worried Noreen getting married. She was, as it turns out, interested not in boys but in God. My mother was relieved about the boys but alarmed about God. It isnt natural, she said, for a girl of seventeen. Do you think shes all right mentally, Ewen?Pg. 95 My mother shrugged and went on worrying and trying to hep Noreen without hurting her feelings, by tactful remarks about the advisability of modulating ones voice when signing hymns, and the fact that there was plenty of hot water so Noreen didnt need to hesitate about taking a bath. She even bought a razor and a packet of blades and whispered to Noreen that any girl who wore transparent blouses so much would probably like to shave under her arms. None of these suggestions had the slightest effect on Noreen. Pg. 95 Grandmother MacLeod Grandmother Macleod, on the other hand, was never seen crying, not even on the day of my fathers funeral. But that day, when we returned to the house…she stood in the hallway and for the first time she looked unsteady. When I reached out instinctively towards her, she sighed. Thats right, she said. You might just take my arm while I go upstairs, Vanessa. Pg. 104 I would have thought that on a day like this you might have shown a little more respect and consideration…even if you couldnt make the effort to get cleaned up enough to go to the parade. Pg. 89

8 C HARACTERIZATION CONT. Beth: My mother began sleeping in the spare bedroom, and after she had been there for a few nights; I asked if I could sleep in there too. I thought she would be bound to ask me why, and I did no know what I would say, but she did not ask. She nodded, and in some way her easy agreement upset me. Pg. 102 In the days following my fathers death, I stayed close beside my mother, and this was only done partly for my own consoling. I also had the feeling that she needed my protection. I did not know from what, nor what I could possibly do, but something held me there. Pg. 103 My mother tried not to cry unless she was alone or with me. I also tried, but neither of us was entirely successful Pg.104 Vanessa: I was twelve, and no one in their right mind would have said what a beautiful child, for I was big boned like my Grandfather Connor and had straight lanky black hair like a Blackfoot or Cree. Pg.88 I wanted my father to myself, so I could prove to him that I cared more about him than any of the others did. I wanted to speak in some way that would be more poignant and comprehending than anything of which my mother could possibly be capable. But I did not know how. Pg.91

9 C HARACTERIZATION C ONT. Ewen It was bad, but it wasnt all as bad as that part. There were other things. Like what? I said Oh-I dont know, he replied evasively …when we were overseas-that was the only time most of us were ever a long way from home. Did you want to be? I asked, shocked. Oh well- my father said uncomfortably. It was kind of interesting to see a few other places for a change, thats all. Pg. 91 They were old-that was the thing. My father was bad enough, being almost forty, but he wasnt a patch on Howard Tully from the drugstore, who was grey-haired and also fat, or Stewart MacMurchie, who was bald at the back of his head. They looked to me like imposters, plump or spindly caricatures of past warriors. Pg. 88 I dont like the idea of your going back to work, Beth, my father said. I know youre fine now, but youre not exactly the robust type. Pg. 93 But I suppose youd work too hard wherever you were- its bred into you. If you havent got anything to slave away at, youll sure as hell invent something. Pg. 93

10 C ONFLICT Vanessa and Noreen Then an inexplicable fury took hold of me, some terrifying need to hurt, burn, destroy. Absolutely without warning, either to her or to myself, I hit Noreen as hard as I could. When she swung around, appalled, I hit out at her once more, my arms and legs flailing. Her hands snatched at my wrists, and she held me, but still I continued to struggle, fighting blindly, my eyes tightly closed, as though she were a prison all around me and I was battling to get out. Pg.104 Vanessa vs. Herself: I went over my reasons for not going, trying to believe they were good and sufficient, but in my heart I felt I was betraying my father. This was the first time I had stayed away from the Remembrance Day parade. I wondered if he would notice that I was not there, Pg. 87

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