March 17, 2017 at 3:05 pm #12646
As Sara’s father is reflecting on their happiness during the Fang occupation, I couldn’t help but think of the Igibys: “Well, except for the way they always sat late into the night beside the hearth telling stories, and when they sang in the garden while they gathered the harvest, and when the grandfather, Podo Helmer, sat on the porch blowing smoke rings, and except for all the good, warm things that filled their days there like cider in a mug on a winter night, they were quite miserable.” (Dark Sea, “An Introduction to the Igiby Cottage (Very Brief”))
What made these two families both able to retain some private peace and beauty in an ugly world? And then, with that similarity, why were the Igibys able to stay on each other’s side (even when they fought), while the Cobblers buckled? I think there’s not just one right answer here, and I want to wrestle with it together.
July 21, 2017 at 6:05 pm #15529
hmmmm – interesting questions –
which I don’t think that I have answers to, but would love to think about some more together.
How were they able to exeperience their own personal peace and beauty? I wonder if anyone can really understand the evil in the world until it lands on their own doorstep. . . Perhaps before the trouble occurred for both the Cobbler’s and the Igiby’s, the fangs were out there, but they weren’t a personal reality and so didn’t have as strong an impact on them.
Perhaps it was a trust in the Maker that allowed them to have that peace and beauty – trusting that there is one who was in control, who deeply cared for and loved them, and was working for their good even in the midst of such a broken world, one who was greater than the fangs. . .
Perhaps it was just the Maker’s blessing to give these two families a small private peace and beauty.
How did the Igiby’s stay together while the Cobbler’s didn’t? Really interesting concept and it makes me think a lot, but I don’t think I have an answer. I am so aware of the potential for any of us to be like Sara’s parents and turn on each other and turn to sin. I don’t think that the Igiby’s or any of us are any better than or stronger than them. Again, perhaps it was simply the Maker’s grace – that he caused the Igiby’s to stay together.
One thing which stood out to me was the support from others – I felt really sad for Sara’s parents that none of their neighbour’s came to her funeral or showed them any support. It is in those times when things are so difficult and our world is falling apart that we most need others to come alongside is and remind us who we are. Of course – I can understand their neighbours’ fears and perhaps they were doing so in order to protect their own families, but I felt sad for the Cobbler’s that they had to be so alone with their pain.
Then, I wonder if part of what held the Igiby’s together while the Cobbler’s fell apart was having someone to protect. Perhaps part of what kept the adults in the Igiby family going was the need to protect the children. When Sara’s parents lost Sara, they didn’t have that anymore and they lost hope and started blaming each other. In part I think – it helps to have someone to protect – and that makes me think of artham actually – the need to protect the wingfeather’s really helped him. . . But yeah, perhaps partially, the need to protect the children is what kept the Igiby’s going. Although I don’t think that that is sustainable long term. I don’t think that Nia could have done it all on her own just because the need was there to protect her children. I think under that weight anyone would fall after too long and her trust had to be in someone greater than herself.
On a surface level, I’m thinking, I’m wondering how much the Cobbler’s trusted the Maker. . . And was what made them fall apart that their marriage/family was based on their daughter rather than a trust in the maker, so when they lost her, they lost the foundation of their family. But I’m brought back again to – that could be any of us. I don’t think that there was anything great about the Igiby’s that caused them to keep on going while other’s didn’t. And I don’t want to say that everything will be fine if we just trust God more. I don’t know, I don’t have answers. I can’t imagine the pain that Sara’s parents must have experienced.
One more thought – I wonder if in that moment – Sara’s parents forget who their real enemy was – Gnag, the Fangs. Perhaps it was easier to blame each other (Sara’s mum blaming her dad) and themselves (her dad blaming himself mainly at the beginning of the book) because that’s what they could see.
It’s a hard question. Why does suffering seem to cause some to trust the maker more and grow closer to him, while it causes others to grow further away. Why does suffering cause some families to grow closer to each other while some marriages and families fall apart as a result of it. I don’t know. I don’t have answers. I know that whatever happens the maker is in control of it and that he’s promised to work for our good and his glory. I find it hard to see that sometimes, but I still know it to be true. I’m glad that we don’t have to have all the answers ; ).
I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this.
July 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm #15662
I also don’t know, but have some vague ideas that might have some relevance. I think the main difference that I see is not how the families started out, but in how they handled it when things went wrong. The big difference I see is that the Igibys were able to forgive each other for their mistakes, even when the mistakes seemed to have led to tragedy (like when Leeli was kidnapped by Slarb). The Cobblers might have been able to get there someday, but they were not able to get there quickly enough and the relationship between Sara’s parent fractured. Grief and tragedy are such a difficult thing to handle. It is very hard to suffer those things without looking for someone to blame or to be angry with. Especially when it seems the tragedy was caused by someone’s mistake, it is hard to forgive that and keep loving that person through it, but without that ability to love the person even when they have done wrong, relationships cannot survive. Sooner or later, someone WILL do something that disappoints us. Sometimes it is a sin that is actually morally wrong, but sometimes the “wrong” can be simply not being strong enough or wise enough to prevent a problem from happening or to keep others from being hurt.
I’m rambling now. I don’t have a final answer for this. But I know that more than once, Janner felt he had failed his family and their response was to keep loving him anyway. That matters.
July 28, 2017 at 12:36 pm #15712
You both have some really good observations. Miss Linda, I was just thinking the same thing about Janner’s family loving him—I just finished rereading North! Or Be Eaten, and that passage where he’s made it to the Ice Prairies and has to tell his family that he lost Tink is a great example of that. He was responsible to protect Tink. Podo and Nia had both previously been hard on him when he’d not watched his siblings carefully enough. And Sara’s parents were responsible to protect her. And Artham was responsible to protect those under his care. But being responsible doesn’t necessarily mean being at fault. I’m reminded of Nia saying that Esben’s recklessness got him killed, and Podo responding, “No, lass. The Fangs is what got ‘im killed.” So while Janner’s, and Sara’s dad’s, responsibility to protect is a real and binding trust, they are not responsible for the evil perpetuated by the Fangs. They’re responsible to do their best, and that may not always be enough. It’s incredible to me that in the face of losing a family member to the Black Carriage, the Igibys were able to comfort Janner rather than blame him, even momentarily.
We don’t keep such statistics in our world, but I’ve often heard here that there is a very high incidence of divorce between couples who’ve lost a child. It’s awful, but the Cobblers aren’t alone in their inability to fight for each other when they no longer have a child to fight for. Steph, I think you are right on when you say they had built their family around Sara. What happens when that center is no longer there? There’s a scientific term for this: barycenter. It means the center of mass, the center of gravity, between two or more objects that are orbiting each other. Everything is pulled that direction, and it keeps the orbit steady. Sara’s parents orbited Sara. How could they keep their orbit when she was gone? They needed a new barycenter.
I think you are really onto something when you say that the Cobblers didn’t have the community support they needed, and when you say that having someone to protect can offer a stabilizing force. And I also agree that having someone to protect is not a sustainable solution. Even if the person you’re protecting remains safe forever, they are an insufficient barycenter. There’s so much potential dishealth there.
This is a hard topic, but ladies, I love your brains.