Questions, questions, questions

quotation from I am not Esther, a book by Fleur Beale with a bird feeding on flax in the backgroundSo we have finished reading “I am not Esther” and you have come up with some really insightful questions. The discussions you had in class today in your groups were interesting to listen to and some of you had some deep discussions about the themes. Here are some of the questions. Please can you choose two of the questions and answer them using the comments below.  I would also like you to comment on other people’s answers – ask them questions about what they mean for clarification or ask them to delve a little deeper into the themes.

Chapter 1: Why did Kirby’s Mum lie to her?

Chapter 2: Will Esther ever settle into the new religion?

Chapter 3: Why didn’t Kirby’s Mum write to her?

Chapter 4: Why won’t anyone talk about Miriam?

Chapter 5: Why do the Children of Faith say you have to marry at 16?

Chapter 6: Why did Uncle Caleb not want Aunt Naomi to have any medical care when she was having the baby?

Chapter 7: Why did Uncle Caleb not let the kids visit the baby or Aunt Naomi?

Chapter 8: Do you think Daniel will marry Damaris? Why? Why not?

Chapter 9: Why didn’t her mum tell her that she was not going to Africa?

Chapter 10: Will Esther and her Mum actually live happily ever after?

 

51 thoughts on “Questions, questions, questions”

  1. 1. Will Esther and her mum ever live happily? – Well, there will always be a ‘scar’, but yes I think they can find a way to be happy and live in relative peace.
    2. Will Daniel marry Damaris? – No. e doesn’t love her – she doesn’t love him. He doesn’t even like her. He wants to be a doctor so I think he would prefer to do that, rather than be trapped with Damaris in the religious community.

    1. Succint answers, Rosie but can you find some evidence to back up your thoughts. You really need to find a quote or an action that explains.

    2. Following on from that…
      1. I know this because in the last chapter Esther forgives her mother and they hug each other. 2. It’s proved in Chapter 5 that Daniel doesn’t want to marry Damaris when they go to the beach. Daniel explains his situation to Kirby and says “I do not want to marry Damaris or anybody. I want to go to university. I want to be a doctor”.

    3. sorry Roise I have decided to pick on you 🙂
      for question one why are there scars what type of scars are they are they the ones that last forever gory and nasty or are they the ones that fade over time and become long forgotten?
      for question two why don’t they love each other what is the reasoning behind it for Damaris?

  2. 1. Why did Kirby’s Mum lie to Kirby?
    Kirby’s Mum told Kirby she was going to Africa because she didn’t want Kirby to find out she was in a psychiatric ward. Kirby’s Mum also wanted Kirby to be happy and safe while she was in the ward, so Kirby’s Mum told Kirby she would be in Africa working for a few months. This helped Kirby know that her Mum was safe and there was no need to worry.
    2. Will Esther and her Mum actually live happily ever after?
    I think Kirby and her Mum would be happy most of the time, but if kirby’s Mum stops being a ‘Real Mum’ to Kirby, it may be a disaster again. Overall though, they would both have a happy life together.

    1. Laura, these are thoughtful comments in response to the answers but I wonder if you can find some evidence in the novel to support your ideas. Is there a some actions or speech to suggest that why if she wasn’t a “real Mum” it would be a disaster, for example?

  3. Chapter 2-Will Esther ever settle into her new religion?

    I think that after a few years of living in that religion she will have a good understanding of the rule and I think she will start to follow it more. At the end of the book she is speaking in their way e.g do not instead of don’t and will not instead won’t. If she lived there for the rest of her life then I think that she would definitely follow the rule and begin to adapt to their way of life.

    Chapter 4- Why won’t anyone talk about Miriam?

    The Pilgrim family is forbidden to talk about Miriam because if they do they will get in serious trouble. Miriam decided to paint and that was against the rule, so they banished her from their home and family. Maggie believed that Miriam was dead so that’s what’s Esther thought too. They didn’t want them to talk about her because she was a disgrace and a bad influence to the Pilgrim family.

    1. Helloooo Emily! I have a question for you…:)

      For your chapter 2 statement, what do you mean by she would start to follow the rule more? What would she do?

    2. Well done, Emily. You have written thoughtful answers and have provided some evidence to support your views. I wonder if you could be more specific with your evidence for the second question – can you find a quotation?

    3. following on from chapter 4……
      chapter 4 page 60
      We finished eating and packed up…….
      That paragraph is about how they see Miriam at the park and as soon as they see her they leave.

      And Olivia’s question
      What I meant by follow the rule more is she won’t be as disobedient any more and she will follow the rule more with braiding her hair back and all the stuff they do.

      1. so she will start to conform? but is that a good thing? Will she conform because she believes or because she is too afraid not to?

  4. Chapter 3- Why did her Mum leave the children of faith at age 16?

    She did not like living by the rule and she was pregnant before getting married and her family would not agree with that.

    Chapter 4- Why haven’t they talked about her?

    She got cast out because she did not believe in the rule and she was banned to seeing her family they must forget about her.

    1. We do not know for sure why Allan left the faith at 16, but we think it is because she had a child when she was to young and did not follow the Rule so she was cast out. But we cannot know for sure.

    2. Correct in terms of the facts, Charlotte, but where is the evidence to prove the facts? You need to dig a little deeper and can you find a quotation to support your ideas?

  5. Chapter 1
    Why did Kirby’s Mum lie to her?
    Kirbys mum (Ellen) lied to Kirby because she felt as though Kirby would feel lost, abandoned and lonely. She did not tell Kirby until the last minute and still lied then by telling her that she would be moving to Africa to work with refugees for the next three years. If Kirby knew that Ellen would be turning herself into a psychiatric ward, then she would be worried sick, let alone probably not even letting her mother go to the psychiatric ward.

    Chapter 10
    Will Kirby and her mum live happily ever after?
    I think that it will take some time, maybe even a couple of years, but yes I think they will live happily ever after. Kirbys mum (Ellen) has had a lot of time to think in the psychiatric ward, and has taught herself/had other people help her become a better mother to Kirby. Instead of Kirby having to look after herself and her mum, it will finally be the right way round with Ellen looking after Kirby.

    1. I like your answer to the chapter 1 question Katie :). My question is what if something happens in there relationship again and her mum has to go back to the psychiatric ward again? I know this is highly unlucky but I just thought about it, and what if it did happen? Would every still be okay in the end?

    2. These are comprehensive answers, Katie. They explain the situation well but can you give me some specific evidence to support what you say?

  6. Why did Allan hide her past from Kirby?
    Does Kirby ever try to find her dad?
    Does Allan finally tell Kirby everything about her past and why she “died”?

  7. Chapter 1- Why did Kirby’s mum lie to her?

    I think that Kirby’s mum lied to her about where she was going and the fact that Kirby DOES have relatives because she didn’t want her to know about her past and her family. I guess her mum wanted to get away from her past and not share it with Kirby because she maybe wanted to keep her away and safe from it. I think this because her mum never talked to her about Kirby’s relatives and also refused to tell her any information about her ‘new job’, getting spooked and going pale when asked.

    Chapter 4- Why won’t anyone talk about Miriam?

    I don’t think anyone talked about Miriam because according to them she was ‘dead’. In my opinion, they chose to describe her and some others as ‘dead’ because when people are dead they are completely gone and there are barely any traces left behind except for maybe their belongings and of course memories. They obviously wanted to clear her and anything to do with her away from their family and that was the way that they chose to do it. She was made ‘dead’ because she likes to do not ‘Godly’ things like art, the Pilgrim family thought that the word and things the Lord created was ‘sufficient’. They don’t talk about her because they don’t want her to set any bad examples for the twins, Maggie and others and potentially giving their family a bad name.

    1. Olivia – my question for you is… What would happen to the family if Miriam wanted to join the Pilgram family again? Would they let her back in?

    2. Olivia, these are comprehensive, thoughtful answers and show that you understand the text. However, could you substitute some of the generalisations for concrete evidence from the text?

  8. 1: Why did Kirby’s mum lie to her?
    Kirby’s mum lied to her because she didn’t want her to worry anymore about her and make Kirby really upset cause she already was and she didn’t want her to know what she was going through also she didn’t want Kirby to know about her pass cause she didn’t like it.

    3: Why didn’t Kirby’s mum write to her?
    I think Kirby’s mum didn’t write to her because she didn’t want her to find out where she was because she knew she already find it hard living with her relatives and if she found out it would make it worse and she would have no where to go and she would end up being a lost child.

    1. 1 continued….. She didn’t want Kirby to know her past because of when she had morning sickness her dad did nothing about it but bet her up and cast her out even though she got raped and it wasn’t her fault

      1. yes, but how do you know that she didn’t want Kirby to know about her past? Where is the evidence that backs up what you say about her not wanting Kirby to be upset? Is she ashamed of her past? Does she think it will hurt Kirby? If so, what in the text tells you that?

  9. 1. Why did Kirby’s Mum lie to Kirby?
    Kirby’s Mum told Kirby she was going to Africa because she didn’t want her to find out she was in a psychiatric ward. Kirby’s Mum wanted her to be happy while she was away, so Kirby’s Mum told Kirby she would be in Africa working for a few months. This helped Kirby know that her Mum was safe and there was no need to worry. She probably lied to Kirby about not having relations because she wanted to get away from her family and her past.

    2. Will Kirby and her mum live happily ever after?
    I think that it will take some time, maybe even a couple of years, but yes I think they will live happily ever after. Kirby’s mum (Ellen) has had a lot of time to think in the psychiatric ward, and has taught herself to become a better mother to Kirby. Instead of Kirby having to look after herself and her mum, it will finally be the right way round with Ellen looking after Kirby. Even if they do live happily ever after there will always be a scar in their relationship.

    1. Hi Allyssa 🙂 I really like your answers, my questions are what do you mean when you say there will always be a ‘scar’ in their relationship and why do you think that it will take about a couple of years and not a couple of months for them to be right and living happily ever after?

    2. Thoughtful answers Alyssa but it is really just conjecture – you need to give some clear evidence on which you based your assumptions. Can you use a quotation to really pin the ideas down?

  10. 1. Why did Kirby’s mum lie to her?
    I think that she lied to her because she wanted Kirby to think that she was safe and good and not that she was in the psychiatric ward, so she said that she was going to Africa to do the lords work. As Kirby’s mum she knew that the truth would hurt Kirby and make her feel upset, alone and abandoned and she would most likely try to stop her and put even more pressure on herself to try and look after her mum even when she was in this condition. Kirby’s mum might have also realized that she wasn’t being a good enough mother to Kirby, and like she said at the end of the story, she felt that it was time for her to start being a real mother, and that Kirby focused and worried about her too much and that she needed to learn to just worry and look after herself. When Kirby’s mum got a letter in the mail from her son that she had had when she was 16 she may have began to feel really depressed and more guilty about the incident that led to Kirby’s older brother, and also feeling forced as the elders were onto her, she felt that the easiest option at the time was for her to leave Kirby and seek other help. Lying to her was easiest way to protect Kirby from getting hurt and that she felt too embarrassed to tell her the truth.

    2. Why didn’t Kirby’s mum write to her?
    I think she didn’t write to Kirby because she knew that it would hurt her too much and disrupt the healing process that she was going through at the time. Also so that she could remain private and not risk giving away any information that she didn’t want Kirby to know, like where she actually was. As well as she didn’t want to interrupt Kirby as she was settling into her new lifestyle with Uncle Caleb and the family and didn’t want to make things worse than they already were.

    1. Well done, Katie. These are comprehensive answers and you have provided quite a lot of evidence to support your first answer. Could you maybe substitute some of the general anecdotes into quotations? In the 2nd answer – was it also not that Uncle Caleb kept the letters that Kirby’s Mum wrote?

    2. Well done, Katie. Your answer to q1, whilst a little rambly shows insight and you have provided evidence from instances in the text. Q2 though is rather vague and you still need to provide some evidence.

    3. Katie M – My question for you is if Kirby’s Mum did write to her would that make Kirby more at ease and therefore obey The Rule and be a bit more relaxed about things.

      1. I don’t know, it could go either way. It could make her feel more at ease knowing her mother is okay or it could make her miss her more or it could make her remember that she abandoned her and left her with her very religious family, which would make her more angry and upset.

    4. question 2.
      …and didn’t want to make things worse than they already were…. as Uncle Caleb had also interfered by keeping the letters that Kirby’s had mum wrote.

  11. This is redone from above – now it has quotes from the book!
    1. Why did Kirby’s Mum lie to Kirby?
    Kirby’s Mum told Kirby she was going to Africa because she didn’t want Kirby to find out she was in a psychiatric ward. Kirby’s Mum also wanted Kirby to be happy and safe while she was in the ward, so Kirby’s Mum told Kirby she would be in Africa working for a few months. This helped Kirby know that her Mum was safe and there was no need to worry. “I didn’t think you would understand and I wanted you to be safe and not worry about me.”
    2. Will Esther and her Mum actually live happily ever after?
    I think Kirby and her Mum would be happy most of the time, but if Kirby’s Mum stops being a ‘Real Mum’ to Kirby, it may be a disaster again. Overall though, they would both have a happy life together. “’Its alright’, Mum said, she wasn’t crying and she sounded calm and strong.” When Kirby went to stay in her Mum’s flat for a bit, Kirby’s Mum did all the ironing, washing, cooking, and telling Kirby to go to bed early. Before Kirby was turned into Esther, Kirby was doing all that for her Mum.

  12. Why did Kirby’s mother lie to her?
    Because she was afraid what KIrby would think of her
    Because if Louisa knew she would take Kirby in, even though she couldn’t afford it ‘Mum! i’ll stay here, louisa will have me,’ ‘Kirby, you know Louisa can’t afford it.’
    Because she was traumatized that the one of the elders had sexually abused her and she didn’t want Kirby too know
    She didn’t tell Kirby about her past because she was whipped and she couldn’t live by the rule any longer.
    She lied to Kirby because she was trying to forget about her past. ‘Nah. Starve them to death I say. Keep them in the dark.’

    Why will nobody talk about Miriam?
    Because Uncle Caleb said that her sins will contaminate the other children
    Because she is dead to Uncle Caleb so the children and Naomi can’t talk about her because he says so ‘ We do not talk about her Kirby’
    Because she wanted to paint and it wasn’t Godly so it would be a sin

    1. You have got the essence of the answers here, Tindra but you will need to express them more fluently. You have provided clear evidence that links to your ideas. Well done.

  13. Chapter 4:
    Why won’t anyone talk about Miriam?
    No one will talk about Miriam because she was not living a godly life (disobeying The Rule). She enjoyed paint which was regarded as a big sin. Therefore she was forbidden to live with the Pilgrim Family again and was sent out. She was now dead to the Pilgrim Family. We know this because Uncle Caleb has said that “She is not dead but she is dead to us.”

    Chapter 10:
    Will Kirby and her Mum actually live happily ever after?
    I think that Kirby and her Mum will live a happy life again. Kirby was partly angry at her Mum as she was having to do a lot of the ‘Mum’ stuff (supermarket shopping, washing, vacuuming). After Ellen’s relapse she showed signs doing Mum things again. They also both missed each other dearly. They rely on each other to have a great time. We know this because when they had an appointment Kirby didn’t want to be there Ellen told her to “Shut up, sit down and to start acting her age.”

  14. Well done, Sophie. You have expressed your answers well but you could link your ideas and your evidence more clearly. e.g. …a Godly life> For example, she enjoyed painting…..
    I am not sure about your evidence quotation for q2 – I think you need to link the quote directly to the idea so you would need to put it earlier in the paragraph.

  15. Chapter 4: Why won’t anyone talk about Miriam?
    She was sent out of the family. In the Pilgrim family Miriam is dead to them as she didn’t want to live a Godly Life, but isn’t actually dead. She wanted to paint but that means her thoughts are away from God. Uncle Caleb quotes ‘She is dead to us because she refuses to live according to the true principles of Godly life.’

    Chapter 6: Why did Uncle Caleb not want Aunt Naomi to have any medical care when she was having the baby?
    Uncle Caleb didn’t want Aunt Naomi to be in medical care as they don’t believe in modern technology. He also believes it is in Gods hands. Uncle Caleb quotes ‘The Lord works in mysterious ways, Esther’ this means God is doing this to Aunt Naomi and he controls it.

  16. Chapter 4: Why won’t anyone talk about Miriam?
    Before Kirby had been left at the Pilgrim house hold, there had been a girl called Miriam, she was in the age gap between Daniel and the twins. She had been engaged, but had ran away because she could not take it, being forced to follow the rule and all. And her family didn’t want her back unless she followed the rule. I know this because in chapter 6 pg. 85 Mrs Fletcher had said “With Miriam it was different. She’d got to the point where she couldn’t take it any more. And her family refused to have her back unless she followed the rule”. After she’d left, the Children of the Faith then classed her as being ‘dead’, I know this because Uncle Caleb had stated that “She is dead to us because she refuses to live according to the true principles of Godly life”.

    Chapter 5: Why do the Children of Faith say you have to marry at 16?
    In the Children of Faith it is most appropriate to get married at the age of 16, because then you are able to have a family. If you do not wish to get married at 16, you are able to have an extension, which lasts for about a year. I know that because in the text it had said that Daniel has used up his extension, and has to get married. The Children of the Faith enjoy, and desire to get married. I know that because in chapter 5 pg. 71 “Why wouldn’t you want to get married?” Charity had asked Kirby, the followed with “It is what all the girls of our faith want”.

  17. Chapter 8: Do you think Daniel will marry Damaris? Why? Why not?
    I do not think that Daniel and Damaris will not marry each other . I know this because Daniel wants to be a doctor, on chapter 5 page 76 it says:He whispered, ‘I do not want to marry Damaris or anybody,I want to go to university. I want to be a doctor.’ And Damaris doesn’t even like him because she likes Gideon, on chapter 5 page 70 it says: Damaris smiled dreamily. ‘I would much rather have Gideon. He is so cool…’ T
    his is why I don’t think they will ever marry.

    Chapter 10: Will Esther and her Mum actually live happily ever after?
    Even though Kirby and her mum have gone through a love/hate relationship but have solved their problems I do think they will live happily ever after. I believe this because in the book it says: It was that easy. I knew I’d miss living with Miriam and Daniel, Nina and Jim. But I belonged with Mum. And she wanted me. She didn’t need me. Not now. But she wanted me. These words makes me think that they will happily ever after because it tells me that her Ellen is starting to become a real mother and is starting to look after Kirby instead of the other way round.

  18. chapter 5 Why do the Children of Faith say you have to marry at 16?
    because they want the women to be taken fully out of society they believe the faster they get them out of school where every day normal people are the less likely chance they will break the rule because they have not been exposed to modern life.
    chapter 6 Why did Uncle Caleb not want Aunt Naomi to have any medical care when she was having the baby?
    because it is modern and uses technology that uncle Caleb dose not agree with he thinks that the technology is to advanced. he also thinks that his belief in god will fix all problems.
    hope this is up to standard Fiona

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