The North and South read-along is officially over! It was so fun to read this classic by Elizabeth Gaskell. This is the last of the discussion questions. This post is hosted by Suey, so head over to her post to find links for everyone else!
North and South Final Discussion Questions
1. There’s much talk about all the deaths in this book. What are your feelings on that? Do you think they were necessary? Or too much?
Mmm, they were all necessary to the story, though at times they were very sad. They each inspired a reaction (or lack thereof) in different characters.
2. Was there anything that happened during this last part that you found surprising or unexpected? Or was everything very predictable?
It’s been so long since I have seen the miniseries, I forgot a few details of the later portions. Other than the “killed cat” moment (ahem, moving on….), I thought that Margaret’s falling back into her old habits as Edith’s companion was a bit unexpected. I was glad when she stood up for herself a bit later and wanted to make her own choices.
3. What are your feelings on the about face Margaret and Mr. Thornton have with regard to their financial status?
For one thing, it forced them to have to correspond with each other again. On a deeper level, I think it proves the strength of character they both possess. Their change in fortune did not effect their personalities or demeanors by making them greedy or proud.
4. Do you think Margaret is justified in being so anguished over the lie that she told? Does it mostly have to do with her feelings for Mr. Thornton? Or something else?
She certainly spent a lot of time dwelling on the fact that Mr. Thornton didn’t know the truth! I think it had more to do with her feelings for him. Once she asked God’s forgiveness, she should have been satisfied personally, though she had to live with the consequences of it.
5. At what moment exactly do you think her feelings for Mr. Thornton completely changed?
At the moment when he covered for her being at the train station. He really lied for her, because he knew she was in the area with a man. In a way, his deliberate lie, to protect her, was very much like her lie to protect Frederick. Maybe this showed her Thornton’s capacity to care was similar to her love for her brother.
6. Discuss the character of Nicholas Higgins. What do you think about the relationship he has with Mr. Thornton? Did he change Mr. Thornton? Did Mr. Thornton change him?
Nicholas began as a character I liked, but didn’t really love. He changes, though, through everything he goes through with Bessy and Boucher. He became an endearing character; one who represented the working man and all his opinions to the story.
I think his relationship with Mr. Thornton changed both of them. I think, for the first time, their relationship caused each to view the other just as a man, not as a master or worker. Their common goal of providing for their family helped to unite them.
7. How does Mr. Thornton’s views on the master/worker relationship change? Or. . .did it change? Did your view on this issue change as you experienced this book?
His views changed some. Proof comes with his implementation/experiment of a new kitchen area available to his workers. I think he began to see ways he could provide for his workers beyond a fair job at a fair wage.
My view didn’t change. I enjoyed following both sides of the issue and seeing how they ended up working together (not without their trials, though). But I still say I’m on Thornton’s side.
8. Do you have a favorite quote from this book? If so, share and let us know why it’s your favorite.
This book has so many quotable lines!!! I think my favorite, though, is this from chapter 20: “He knew it was the first time their hands had met, though she was perfectly unconscious of the fact.”
I also love this line from Nicholas Higgins: “Any yet, yo see, North and South has both met and made kind o’ friends in this big smoky place.”
9. The ending! Are you happy with how things turned out? (Try not to compare with the movie here… that’s for a later question!)
Yes!!! I’m completely happy with how the story turned out. It did feel slightly abrupt – I would have been happy with a few more pages of John and Margaret getting settled and speaking with their families. But, I am good with how it was resolved. I know that Gaskell had to make the length of it fit at the time in Charles Dickens’ publication. And the roses were sweet 🙂
10. What aspect of this book would you like to address that we haven’t yet talked about? Is there something we’ve skipped over in our discussions that makes you want to say… “Yeah, but what about….?” And if you’ve got nothing there, answer this: Did you like the book? Why or why not?
Hmm, the one thing we didn’t discuss was the fact that Fanny finally got married. Didn’t she supposedly marry a wealthy man in trade? Why couldn’t he help Mr. Thornton? I do wonder that.
BONUS MOVIE QUESTION:
Ok, so I definitely love both the book and the miniseries, for separate reasons. The book is so richly detailed, and we see Mr. Thornton’s point of view. The movie, though, provides a visual for the characters and the setting. The movie has a different first meeting and a totally different ending sequence, which I am happy about. The kiss-less book ending is appropriate for that era of literature, I know. So for us in modern times, we have the series to watch and be happy about.
Thank you to Suey, Jenni, and Kami for hosting this fun read-along! It’s the first one I’ve participated in, and it has been fun and memorable.
Do you agree with my answers for this final discussion? Have you seen the miniseries? I’d love to hear your thoughts on either!