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The following is a discussion question from the publisher for the January 2015 book of the month, "The Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey
. Please do not read this topic until you have finished the book because this topic may contain spoilers
When Jack is injured, Esther and Garret move to their farm to help them. How does this alter Jack and Mabel?s relationship?
I don't think it's just that Esther and Garret came to help that affected the relationship. It's also simply that Jack hurt himself and Mabel started taking care of him more than vice versa. I think the whole ordeal brought Jack and Mabel closer together. In part that's because it gave each a better understanding of what it's like to be in the other's shoes. What do you think?
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Again I agree with you. After Jack was injured, Mabel began to understand him better and to appreciate his hard work in the fields. Before the injury she didn't really realize how hard he worked. He from his end started to appreciate her better.
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When Esther and Garret move to the farm it gives both Jack and Mabel an opportunity to stand back and "see the wood from the trees" as it were. They have been so wrapped up in the basics of survival that they have lost sight of each other and lost sight of why they moved to Alasca in the first place. Esther and Garret take the load and the responsibility for a time.
As an aside I loved Esther, she's such a can do, get up and go kind of woman - I imagine her as totally unflappable, and able to cope with whatever falls her way and her first instince is to help not to preach, berate or cast around for someone to blame. Awesome woman!
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Jack and Mabel's relationship changed for the better. They both got to experience what the others' day-to-day jobs are like (at least after Jack was back on his feet a bit more). I think Esther and Garret's stay was the best thing that could have happened to them under the circumstances, and saved them in more than one way.
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When Mabel starts working the farm she develops a sense of self-worth and purpose. If one believes the old saying that one cannot truly love another until they love themselves then perhaps this explains the change in Mabel and Jack's relationship? Mabel's newly acquired confidence makes her more attractive to Jack and in turn, Mabel discovers a new appreciation for how hard Jack works. Had Esther and Garret not come to the farm, I believe Jack and Mabel's relationship would have deteriorated very quickly.
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I think she knew exactly how hard he worked, but I think it was expected being he was the man of the house. When Mabel had to step up she gained a confidence that many women back east in her time would never have.
Jack seemed to feel dejected and distant when Mabel had to step up and take care of him.
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I thought that it gave us a chance to see that Mabel could prove to Jack that she was capable of more than he allowed her to be. So often in our lives we are controlled by others and their expectations for us that we are not allowed to live to our full potential. Through this process I felt that both Jack and Mabel were better able to bridge a gap in their own relationship that had been caused by the death of the child. That this unfortunate circumstance was somehow key to helping each of them move beyond the grief cycle that they were both in.
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Esther and Garrett allowed Jack and Mabel another chance to stay in Alaska and keep fighting. If they hadn't helped them thrive I feel like they would have moved away and always have a feeling of failure hanging over them, but instead Mabel was able to appreciate Jack more and begin to love their life out there, making them have more in common.