Making a Murderer is still on my mind. People Magazine featured a story about it as well—so I assume it’s on many people’s minds. In fact, I’m going to a happy hour gathering next week where the express purpose is to discuss the many theories around what might have happened and whether or not Avery is innocent, all over a pint or two. This raises a murky discomfort… is it ok to have a party to discuss the show? Are we making too much light of the tragedies? Are we forgetting that this isn’t just a story—it’s several people’s reality? But this is what we do all the time, for The Bachelor and The Real Housewives and other “reality” shows.
So sorry I’ve been MIA lately–I’ve been traveling, doing the holidays, and dealing with some personal things. Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. I can’t believe 2015 is just around the corner!
Sundays with Jane is all about delving into the richness that is Jane Eyre. It’s a book I re-read every year because it never fails to impress and provoke me. I’ve learned so many lessons from this book, and there are so many quotes that have applied at different times to my life.
This week I want to cover one of the popular themes in JE: fire and ice. It’s a topic covered by countless English undergrads, and for good reason—Charlotte Bronte is a master of metaphor. And you can’t possibly miss all of the fire/heat/ice/cold talk in this book; it’s everywhere. So I’m not going to list or discuss all the instances of this metaphor, because that would take days and has been done many times elsewhere; instead, we’re just going to talk about a few that shed insight into the lives of the characters.
It’s no secret that Jane’s personality is described many times throughout the book as fiery. (This is why I’m always surprised by movie adaptations where Jane is sullen, silent, and meek. Have these people read the book?!) Sometimes, Jane’s fire is a positive force, and sometimes it is a negative one. One of my favorite quotes from JE comes after Jane’s famous quarrel with Aunt Reed:Continue Reading
Welcome to Sundays with Jane. Every week I’ll be covering certain themes and topics in Jane Eyre, in an attempt to explain just how much I love this book and how much richness there is to it. Certainly, this list isn’t exhaustive and I may very well add more weeks to this series as we go, but what I currently plan to cover includes:
- Fire & Ice
- Magic & Mysticism
- Emotion & Integrity
- Use of the 1st Person
Last Sunday we talked about two words, “automaton” and “deglutition,” which Charlotte Bronte uses to give us insight into Jane Eyre’s complex feelings about the role of emotion in our lives.
Today we’ll discuss “puerile” and “hierophant”—one word which is used again to shed light on how Jane feels about emotion and sentimentality, and the other word which brings to light something entirely different.Continue Reading
Folks, it’s time. It’s time to start talking about the book I love more than any in the world: Jane Eyre. I’ve put it off for far too long, because I didn’t know where to start. I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve started and then had to stop because they start to become ridiculously long. I can’t just write a book about how much I love Jane Eyre (well I could, but you know). So I’m going to break it down and try to isolate the pieces that inspire me. And write about them, for as long as it takes.
Because I have the most time to write on Saturdays and Sundays, I’m starting this series “Sundays with Jane.” We’ll start today just talking about some of the brilliant words that Charlotte Bronte uses (we’re starting super small). Other topics I plan to cover include:
- Fire & Ice
- Magic & Mysticism
- Emotion & Integrity
- Use of the 1st Person
No matter how many times I’ve read it, Jane Eyre is always a learning experience—if for nothing else, then for all of the words I learn (and then forget until the next time I read it). Charlotte Bronte was raised in an isolated family; they lived on the moors in Yorkshire, England, and didn’t get out much. So growing up, the way Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell entertained themselves was by writing and reading. Charlotte was a remarkable student, and admired authors like William Makepeace Thackeray and Samuel Johnson. Clearly very light reading. It’s no surprise then, since she admired the famous dictionary-writer, that her own writing style would be sesquipedalian (using long words).Continue Reading
This year I purposely didn’t set a Goodreads goal for myself. I wanted to feel completely free to read whatever I want to—no turning to shorter books because I can meet my goal faster, no skipping much beloved re-reads because Goodreads doesn’t count re-reads toward your goal. The goal idea is good if you don’t like reading all that much and/or just want to challenge yourself to read more. But I read all the time. I’m not worried about going long periods of time without reading a book. Books are staples in my life. They are ever-present. Period.
So, in celebration of my freedom, I re-read Pride and Prejudice. It was like indulging in my favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Americone Dream). I had no agenda with it, I wasn’t reading it because a publisher sent it to me, or because I felt like I needed to get it off my list. I was just indulging in something that makes me happy. So I’m not going to review Pride & Prejudice; I’m just going to gush. (And I assume you’ve all read it and will know what I’m talking about.)Continue Reading
Well, hello! It feels like I’ve been buried in a mountain of work the past few weeks… because I have. Between work and completing a certificate in Digital Project Management, blogging has taken the back seat.
But I’ve still been doing lots of reading! I’ve read some real humdingers, and I have a slew of reviews coming your way. First up…
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak; originally published in 1957 by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, Milano, Italy
Review in a word: Yawn…
Opening line: “They walked and walked and sang ‘Memory Eternal,’ and whenever they stopped, the singing seemed to be carried on by their feet, the horses, the gusts of wind.”
This story is the life of Yuri Zhivago. As a young boy, his father commits suicide because of the influence of his corrupt lawyer. Yuri is taken in by a friend of the family and grows up with Tonya, whom he later marries. At the same time, Lara is the poor daughter of a disreputable seamstress, who is the mistress of the same corrupt lawyer mentioned earlier. This lawyer, Komarovsky, also takes advantage of Lara. As soon as she can, she marries Pavel Pavlovich, a young idealistic puppy-like revolutionary.
Fast forward a few years… the Russian Revolution has begun and Yuri, a famous doctor now, is caring for those wounded in the war. Pavel Pavlovich ran away from Lara to join the revolution, and there are rumors that he has died. She becomes a nurse to look for him, and ends up working with Yuri. They fall in love, but Lara eventually returns to her home in Yuriatin. As the war becomes more dangerous in Moscow, Yuri’s family moves to Yuriatin, where Tonya’s father has some property. Yuri and Lara are reunited and they begin a passionate affair. Yuri is then captured by a group of revolutionaries and forced to take care of their wounded men. He is with the revolutionaries for several years before he escapes.
Because of each of their prospective involvement with the revolution, they are pursued by the government. Yuri returns to Yuriatin, but his family isn’t there anymore. Again, he is reunited with Lara. Finally, while hiding out at his family’s old house in Yuriatin, Yuri persuades Lara to return to Komarovsky, who has promised to keep them safe. Yuri promises to join them soon, but he actually stays behind, and Pasha shows up to reveal that he is the notorious revolutionary leader Strelnikov, who is being hunted by the Russian government. He commits suicide after confessing to Yuri. Yuri then returns to Moscow to make one more effort at finding his family. He dies there in poverty.
I love Russian stories. It’s one of my goals to read a Russian novel every year. Technically, this was 2013’s Russian novel, but it took me so long to finish it that… here we are in March 2014. I say that I love Russian stories, because I do: I love Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment. But I’m not so sure anymore that I love reading Russian literature. I think I do love reading Dostoevsky, but Tolstoy and now Pasternak… I have a hard time with the long periods lacking emotional tension and excitement. Honestly, it was a lot like reading Les Miserables in that a few hundred pages of war probably could have been cut out, in my opinion. I was doing pretty well with it until Yuri was kidnapped, and then I hit a wall. I had to give it a rest for a couple months before finally bucking up the resolve to finish it.
And I have to say, the story is powerful. I love Lara as a character—she is fierce and whip smart. She and Yuri have a unique respect for each other; they acknowledge that they each have other families they need to return to, but they enjoy each other while they are together. They are one of the most equal couples I’ve ever read, with no one person obviously holding more power.
Doctor Zhivago was also interesting to read in contrast with Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. I’m no scholar on this subject, but it’s obvious that Pasternak felt Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were outdated and too religious in their work. Pasha is a character who, like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy’s characters, goes looking for meaning in the world, trying to live up to an impossible moral standard. It’s his zeal for justice that makes him do so many evil things. Pasternak seems to imply that it is better to live a quiet life, accepting what comes and trying not to do too much harm. And, perhaps, there is no greater meaning in life.
“This was what life was, this was what experience was, this was what the seekers of adventure were after, this was what art had in view—coming to your dear ones, returning to yourself, the renewing of existence.” (145)
“All mothers are mothers of great people, and it is not their fault that life later disappoints them.” (253)
“Of all things Russian, I now love most the Russian childlikeness of Pushkin and Chekhov, their shy unconcern with such resounding things as the ultimate goals of mankind and their own salvation. They, too, understood all these things, but such immodesties were far from them—not their business, not on their level! Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky prepared for death, were anxious, sought meaning, summed things up, but these two till the end were distracted by the current particulars of their artistic calling, and i their succession lived their lives inconspicuously, as one such particular, personal, of no concern to anyone, and now that particular has become common property and, like still unripe apples picked from the tree, is ripening in posterity, filling more and more with sweetness and meaning.” (256)
Recommend? You’re probably better off watching the movie. I love the 2003 version with Keira Knightley and Hans Matheson.
Reviews coming soon:
- Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
- Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
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Along with Literary Wives bloggers Kay and Cecilia, I’m joining the Classics Club for Spin #5. I’m not officially part of the Classics Club, but I like classics, so why not? My goal today is to list twenty classics. On Monday, the Classics Club will pick a number, and the correlating book is what I have to read in the next two months. I took the Classics Club’s advice and picked five books I’m dreading, five I can’t WAIT to read, five I’m neutral about, and five “free choice.”
Books I’m dreading:
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft
Books I can’t WAIT to read:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Emma by Charlotte Bronte
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Books I’m neutral about:
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmusca Orczy
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Children’s books I never got around to reading:
Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I’m hoping that by listing all of the ones I’m dreading first, I’ll somehow escape them. They won’t pick a low number, right? RIGHT? Either way, it’s been a while since I’ve read a classic, so I’m excited about this!
Are you doing the challenge? What classics are you reading?
Hello! Today we’re continuing the Literary Wives series with Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund. We kicked the series off in May with American Wife, and we’ve had some awesome conversations. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has to say about this one. Don’t forget to check out the reviews of my fellow Literary Wives bloggers: Emily, Audra, Cecilia, Carolyn, and Lynn.
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund; published 2005 by William Morrow & Company
First off, I should say that if you haven’t read this book, that’s ok! If you know anything about the classic Moby Dick, you’re already a step ahead. Personally, I’ve never read Moby Dick and the only thing I knew was that there’s a man chasing a whale. Seriously. I didn’t know who Ahab or Ishmael was. But I quickly learned!
For those of you who are like me and don’t know who Ahab is, well—he’s the captain of the Pequod, a whaling ship, and he’s the one chasing a great white whale known as Moby Dick. This book is about Ahab’s wife (duh), the much, much younger Una.
Essentially, this book is her biography. I was shocked and still am very puzzled as to why the book is called Ahab’s Wife, since Ahab is Una’s husband for a very short amount of time, and they are only together as husband and wife for a handful of pages. If you want to know more of what I thought about the book’s plot in general, you can read my Goodreads review and I will try to keep the sarcasm here to a minimum. But that doesn’t mean this book had nothing to say about wives, since, as Una notes from the first line: “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.”
We’ve been using two questions to guide our discussions about literary wives, but I just want to focus on one:
In what way does this woman define “wife”—or in what way is she defined by “wife”?
Una believes a true marriage exists between two people in complete accord.
I couldn’t possibly begin to adequately summarize everything that happens leading up to Una’s first marriage, so you’ll have to forgive me for jumping straight into it, much like Una did, with a young sailor named Kit. Through a horrific experience, they bond and even though Una can see that Kit is losing his mind because of it, she agrees to marry him.
“The universe prepared us for each other,” she says. And this seems to be her justification for putting up with Kit’s madness and abuse—and for her future marriages as well. Even though Kit privately and publicly humiliates her, she will not leave him. I understand that she wants to be kind to him because he’s certifiably insane, but she absolutely forsakes the wonderfully brave girl full of gumption we knew in the beginning of the book. She feels that she must sacrifice her personality and lifestyle to Kit’s desires, even though she knows they are foolish and come from an unstable mind.
It isn’t until Kit wanders off and deserts her that she allows Captain Ahab, who married them, to dissolve their marriage. A few days later, Ahab and Una are married.
Una’s relationship with Ahab is strong from the moment they meet. Even in the short glimpses of Ahab’s diary, we see that he feels, “There’s something of me in her.” Repeatedly, they seem to commune without needing to talk. Una calls him “a male version of myself.”
One of the most frustrating points of the book was that I continuously felt that Una was justifying her relationship to Ahab. She went on and on about how absolutely perfectly they were suited for each other:
Of our pasts we seemed to know all we needed to know. Nothing was concealed, and though nothing was overtly revealed, all was known. In guilt and in forgiveness we counted ourselves equals, and always had. The sun himself envied us.
Call me cynical, but I have a hard time believing that a weathered captain over fifty and a troubled girl of eighteen can have such pure unity in their relationship. There is absolutely no reason they should have so much in common, and Una’s insistence that they did have everything in common was exasperating to say the least. With no shared experiences and only a few days of marriage, I just could not find such intimate communion credible.
After Ahab is killed by Moby Dick, Una meets Ishmael, the famed narrator of Moby Dick. He talks with the same “ye” and “thou” obnoxiousness that Ahab did, and—no surprise—he and Una again seem to share an instantaneous bond. But this time, Una will not go through the formal ceremony of getting married:
From the first night in my bed, we had known the depths of each other; my body had whispered to me as his had to him: This is marriage. It needed no courtship.
My worst nightmares are made of such hyperbolic droning. (I’m not very good at the no-sarcasm thing, am I?) While I do agree that the formal ceremony does not make the marriage, I don’t believe for a minute that true unity exists when two minds are exactly alike.
I’ve learned personally that marriage takes huge sacrifice—something I am absolutely terrible at. But I’m a better person for it. My husband challenges me and inspires me to change. With each of Una’s marriages, she does not become more loving, but more selfish. She seems to only know of her own desires, and she finds a companion who perfectly mirrors herself. Personally, I don’t see any beauty or inspiration in a marriage like that.
What did you think?
Our next book will be The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. Join us on December 1 for the review!
Happy Banned Books Week! I wanted to take a moment to remember and honor some of the books that have influenced me. Someone, once upon a time, didn’t want me to read these books, but I am so thankful that I have the freedom today to read whatever I want. Can you imagine the world without some of these brave books?
1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
GWTW is one of the most realistic depictions we have of life in the South during and after the Civil War. The book was banned because of Scarlett’s lewd behavior and the use of some choice racial epithets.
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
South Africa banned this classic in 1955 for being “indecent, objectionable, or obscene.” I admit that the scene in which Dr. Frankenstein cuts up the female monster he was creating is pretty gruesome, but talk about making an impact on readers!
3. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
This little book is one of my all-time favorites. Once I read it three times in one week. It’s been banned many times in the US and Canada for violence, racist and sexist language, and its “demoralizing” message.
4. The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkein
Ironically, this series full of Christ-centered imagery and allegory was reported as being satanic.
5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
This book was one of the highlights of my high school required reading list. It’s been banned multiple times for graphic language.
Take a look at the American Library Association’s list of banned and challenged classics. What are your favorites?
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
My preferred edition is the Vintage Classics 1993 edition, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volonkhonsky.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you might know that I hold Fyodor Dostoevsky in high regard. In my review of Writers Gone Wild, I shared the story of Dostoevsky’s witnessing a mock execution and enduring imprisonment in Siberia. His classics The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment were born out of these experiences of suffering, punishment, and faith. The Brothers Karamazov is one of my favorite books of all time and something about reading Crime and Punishment, as difficult and long as it is, felt like meeting with and learning from a beloved teacher again.
If you don’t know the plot, I’ll give you a very basic summary. In the first part, the main character, Raskolnikov, a bright but despondent student, murders an old woman known as a greedy pawnbroker, as well as her sister, with an axe. He steals the pawnbroker’s money, but never actually looks at it or uses it. He becomes extremely ill just after committing the crime and for most of the book he is unpredictable, moody, and vicious. His friends and family think that Raskolnikov is just cracking under intense pressure and stress and do not suspect him. Only one person figures out that Raskolnikov is the criminal, a police inspector named Porfiry Petrovich. (For native English speakers, dealing with the Russian names and their variations can be difficult. I ended up making a character chart to keep track of everyone.) Most of the book is devoted to discovering why this promising young man commits such a horrid crime and what will happen to him.
Raskolnikov’s reasoning goes something like this: For ordinary people, laws and rules exist to guide them and help them live good lives. But some people are extraordinary; they are the leaders, the game-changers, people who help humanity progress. These people must often transgress rules and laws to allow for progress. Though, according to the law, these people are criminals, they are actually heros. Raskolnikov explains this way:
“In short, I deduce that all, not only great men, but even those who are a tiny bit off the beaten track—that is, who are a tiny bit capable of saying something new—by their very nature cannot fail to be criminals—more or less, to be sure. Otherwise it would be hard for them to get off the beaten track, and, of course, they cannot consent to stay on it, again by nature, and in my opinion it is even their duty not to consent.” (260)
Raskolnikov cites Napoleon, who is revered as a brilliant strategist and made significant contributions to society. The unfortunate byproduct was that he killed thousands of people. Nevertheless, Raskolnikov says, it was worth it. Raskolnikov believes that he himself might be one of these extraordinary people. He has grand plans to help people and be a great benefactor, but he is destitute and needs money to get started. The old woman has the money that he needs, and she is a greedy tyrant. He devises the plan to kill her as a test of his own worth: whether or not he will prove to be able to step over the boundaries of the law in order to make progress.
I mentioned before that I noticed this kind of thinking in The Magician’s Nephew. Both Uncle Andrew and the Empress Jadis believe that they are outside the law. They are proved wrong, of course, and so is Raskolnikov. Throughout the book, Raskolnikov slowly realizes that he is not outside the law, and the process of this discovery is heartbreaking at times.
Part of Raskolnikov’s theory is the idea that an ordinary person’s will and reason abandon them when they commit a crime, which is why they are caught so easily. An extraordinary person, however, will not lose his will and reason. He will remain in complete control because his “crime” is actually good for the world. “The criminal himself, almost any criminal, experiences at the moment of the crime a sort of failure of will and reason, which, on the contrary, are replaced by a phenomenal, childish thoughtlessness, just at the moment when reason and prudence are most necessary. …Having come to such conclusions, he decided that in his own personal case there would be no such morbid revolutions, that reason and will would remain with him inalienably throughout the fulfillment of what he had plotted, for the sole reason that what he had plotted—was ‘not a crime.'” (70-1)
Unfortunately, Raskolnikov does in fact lose his will and reason during the crime. He only intended to kill the pawnbroker. But when the pawnbroker’s sister arrives just after Raskolnikov has killed her, Raskolnikov panics and murders the sister as well. He still manages to escape and avoid suspicion, but he is haunted by the second murder, which was committed in “childish thoughtlessness.”
Still hoping that he might be able to prove to himself that he is extraordinary, Raskolnikov decides to confess to Sonya, a girl who has prostituted herself in order to provide money for her family. Sonya is a “pure spirit”—she willingly sins every day, but she believes in God with an unshakeable faith. Sonya suffers and it would be a relief to her to end her life, but she sacrifices even that desire so that she will not be guilty of such a great sin and can continue being a prostitute to keep her stepmother, sisters, and brother fed. Raskolnikov is skeptical that her faith is legitimate; he would rather believe that she is crazy than that her faith sustains her. In a scene that made me, for a moment, despise Raskolnikov, he sets about trying to make her crazy by talking about the horrible fates that no doubt will come to her sisters and brother despite Sonya’s best efforts and by trying to poke holes in her faith. Thankfully, Sonya is a rockstar. She remains steadfast, and her unwavering love for God and compassion for Raskolnikov is the final proof to him that he is just as depraved as the rest of the world.
He confesses to her but still tries to justify himself: “I only killed a louse, Sonya, a useless, nasty, pernicious louse.” (416)
He explains his reasoning to her, his grand theory of humanity, and shares the conclusion of his experiment: “I wanted to prove only one thing to you: that the devil did drag me there then, but afterwards he explained to me that I had no right to go there, because I’m exactly the same louse as all the rest! He made a mockery of me, and so I’ve come to you now! …Was it the old crone I killed? I killed myself, not the old crone! Whopped myself right then and there, forever!” (419-20)
At this point, he still will not accept responsibility. He still does not believe he did anything wrong; he only believes that he himself is not a great man like Napoleon. Sonya wants him to turn himself in and accept his punishment. But he does not want to give the government the satisfaction of convicting him, because the government itself is corrupt and guilty of indiscriminately killing innocent people. What right does the government have to judge him?
Although for most of the book, I did not like Porfiry Petrovich, I came to love him in the sixth part. Porfiry also restored my good opinion of Raskolnikov. He comes to Raskolnikov to tell him that he, Porfiry, knows Raskolnikov is the murderer and that Raskolnikov has three days to turn himself in. He tells R that he will get a reduced sentence if he just confesses. R is, as he always is, skeptical of Porfiry’s kindness to him. Porfiry tells him:
“Do you know how I regard you? I regard you as one of those men who could have their guts cut out, and would stand and look at his torturers with a smile—provided he’s found faith, or God. Well go and find it, and you will live. First of all, you’ve needed a change of air for a long time. And suffering is also a good thing, after all. Suffer, then. …I know belief doesn’t come easily—but don’t be too clever about it, just give yourself directly to life, without reasoning; don’t worry—it will carry you straight to shore and set you on your feet. What shore? How do I know? I only believe that you have much life ahead of you. …It’s good that you only killed a little old woman. If you’d come up with a different theory, you might have done something a hundred million times more hideous! Maybe you should still thank God; how do you know, maybe God is saving you for something.” (460)
Porfiry encourages Raskolnikov to embrace his punishment because it will be good for him, and because it is his only chance of salvation. If he does not confess, Raskolnikov will continue to be haunted and tormented by his own ideas. It is only by enduring suffering and finding faith that he will be able to live a good life, which is what Raskolnikov does want. Part 6 ends with Raskolnikov finally confessing to the police that he is the murderer.
As much as we would like to see “mercy” extended to Raskolnikov because he confessed, the Epilogue shows that the real mercy was in sending him to Siberia to suffer. Even in prison, Raskolnikov at first still persists in his flawed theory:
“‘…Even many benefactors of mankind, who did not inherit power but seized it for themselves, ought to have been executed at their very first steps. But those men endured their steps, and therefore they were right, while I did not endure, and so I had no right to permit myself that step.’
“This alone he recognized as his crime: that he had not endured it, but had gone and confessed.” (544)
Sonya is with Raskolnikov in Siberia, as she promised him he would be. For the first year of his eight-year sentence, he is still unkind to her. But suddenly he realizes that he loves her and wants to live so that they can be together. And Dostoevsky hints that he will, eventually, find faith: “A thought flashed in him: ‘Can her convictions not be my convictions now? Her feelings, her aspirations, at least…'” (550). They still have seven years to endure his punishment, but “at the beginning of their happiness there were moments when they were both ready to look at those seven years as if they were seven days.” (551) This, of course, reminds me of the story of Jacob and Rachel: “So Jacob served Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel. The years went by quickly and seemed to him to be only a few days because of the immense love he had for her.” (Genesis 29:20)
I love this book because it explores some of my favorite themes: justice versus grace, punishment versus discipline, earthly knowledge versus faith. What I have been reminded from this book is that we all, in some ways, believe we are outside of the law. I believe it when I argue with God, telling Him I don’t have to apologize to my husband for unkind words. I believe it when I ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do something for another person. I certainly don’t think I’m a military genius like Napoleon, or even someone who can “speak a new word” like Raskolnikov hopes he is. But I still wish to avoid the consequences of my sin. However, I have had to face those very unwelcome consequences before, and it has been good for me. God’s discipline is good for me, and He transforms that suffering to hope.
“We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.” (Romans 5:3-5)
If you have read this entire post…wow. Thank you!