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The Sea, the Sea Discussion Questions

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These questions are taken from the Reading Guides site.

1. Charles's house, Shruff End, is in many ways a character in its own right. Intricately described, the house is explicitly referred to as gloomy and cave-like and can in many ways stand as a metaphor for Charles's own mind.

What are some of the ways that events and features in Shruff End indicate Charles's mental state?

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Hi winterwren,


Can I just check, before I launch in...are you intending that this thread will gather all sorts of possible discussion questions on it, as the title sort of suggests, or would you rather we dived in and answered that question here, and started different threads for other questions/topics as they occur to us.


Sorry, feeling a bit dense today ;)

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Hello Claire!


Am I supposed to know what I am doing? :eek:


Well, I have no idea. :o


I was thinking that it might be easier to keep questions in one place but then again I wasn't sure. In the long run I just decided to jump in and post a question and see what happens.


What do you think is best?


Trudy (Winterwren)

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Hi Trudy,


Fair enough :) I guess we're all making it up as we go along, aren't we.


I guess my instinct would be to have a different thread for each question, so they didn't all overlap and get confused as they got answered.....but who knows what will work best :confused:


Off out, very soon, but will be back in the next day or two to have a go at answering/discussing this a bit more.


Let's have a question/thread about marriage, somehow - that seems a pretty key theme to the book.


And something about how and why the ending is so, well, "bitty"!

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Well. That really sounds okay to me, too. But some questions just don't get answered. How about I post all the questions I can think of here at this thread? You post questions here too! Then find one that really looks interesting and we could make a new thread with it.


The only thing that I was thinking was with only a few people reading and discussing the book you sure could end up with a lot of different threads for one book - and maybe that's okay. It just seemed a bit much to me.


Anyway, I truly don't really much care - talking about the book is what is rewarding and I can adapt pretty easily to what ever happens, I think.


SO I will post more questions here and then you decide what you want to do when you pop back in - what ever it is, I will be in favor of it! I am really glad that you enjoyed the book.


Trudy :)

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2. Compare the three female characters—the mundane and muddled Hartley, the demure and clinging Lizzie, and the fierce and implacable Rosina—in their attitudes toward love and their approaches to Charles.


Are any of them free?


Do they seek freedom?


Compare Murdoch's depiction of them with her handling of the male characters.


Is sexual difference and "the nature of women" a theme in the book?



3. Charles repeatedly and self-consciously draws attention to the diary/ memoir format of his writing, contrasting it to his previous writings, which were "written in water." In fact his withdrawing to Shruff End to write his memoir provides the very foundation and center of everything that happens in the novel.


How does Murdoch use the natural self-absorption of this medium to render a view of Charles that he himself does not have access to?


What are other examples of his self-absorption?



4. The specter of demons, fates, and controlling forces are sprinkled throughout the novel.


What are some of the examples of these "relentless mechanisms"? What is their significance?


Is The Sea, The Sea a fatalistic novel?


What examples might counter this assertion?

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I rather fancy the question about the different female characters - so I'm going to launch in and start a thread all of it's own for it. Do wander over and join me there!

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