I hope that you are all a few chapters into the novel at this point.
By Chapter X we’ve met the porter family except for Charlie (he’s off fighting the war,) via the nursemaid Bea.
Why do you think that the author chose to introduce the family from Bea’s perspective?
In my opinion, Graver has managed to make what could have been an innocuous character multifaceted and compelling.
What do you think of Bea?
Seemingly content with her life, and totally committed to the care of Janie she does mention that she feels that nothing is truly hers – her money (Mr. Porter takes care of it), her room, even the person that she loves more than life (Janie) isn’t hers. Janie is at an age where she is beginning to pull away from Bea and is expressing her desire for more autonomy. Bea on the other hand is being given the opportunity to finally have a life of her own with Smitty and yet seems reluctant.
“Not since tending Janie as an infant had she come so close to someone, not since tending her mother on her deathbed, though this was even closer, to be inside his mouth this way and he in hers. He wanted her, that was the difference- he was no baby or old woman: he wanted her because he wanted her, because she was a woman and he a man, because perhaps?) she was herself.”(page 51-52)
Why then at that moment of realization does Bea pull away?
We have also learned why Bea left her Scotland. After caring for her mother during her two-year illness, decline and ultimate death, Bea finds herself at twenty-three untethered, unloved and redundant. Her father and brother don’t need her. Shortly after her mother’s death Bea’s aunt moves in and fills the void for her father. Callum is about to get married. “…but more potent was her sense that both she and her mother were being quickly and practically replaced.”
Having already experienced redundancy why doesn’t Bea follow her mother’s advice “take care of yourself”, and jump at the opportunity of having a life with Smitty?
Is she too much like her father? “He did not try, as far as she could tell, to help himself.”