I forced myself to slow down my reading this week and not finish chapter 27 on Wednesday, which I completely wanted to do! This section just had so much more rising action and climactic events, no? Also, the reading was bookended by two deaths – well, one was only foretold – Mrs. Hale and Bessy Wiggins.
So Margaret’s mom is going to die and she really doesn’t want anyone but Dixon to know. But darling daughter won’t be put off and forces the good doctor to explain the truthfulness of her mother’s condition. All agree not to tell Mr. Hale who eventually finds out anyway – I mean, she only has a few weeks to live. Does Mrs. Hale truly believe her husband can’t handle the truth or is this some kind of payback for his keeping her in the dark about quitting the Church and moving to Milton? Either way, Margaret’s always in the middle, playing liaison between her parents. It’s almost as if she’s the parent and they the children. I think this role creates a hardness in Margaret that otherwise might not exist and even gives birth or motivation to her lack of tact. Her parents are so wishy-washy and always want to hide the truth or require Margaret to relate bad news that it’s no wonder she doesn’t have a tactful bone in her body.
The most physically climactic event was the strike and the altercation at the Thornton residence. The factory workers have left Milton’s mills quiet desiring the wage they were paid two years past. The factory owners are having hard times due to competition from America and have lowered wages. When the workers go on strike, Mr. Thornton hires a group of Irish immigrants to replace those on strike. Obviously, this doesn’t go well and the replaced Englishmen and women show up at his door a bit blood thirsty. Both sides are villains and victims alike. The labor dispute is no black and white matter. Businesses can only exist by turning profits and workers can only survive by putting food on the table. It’s almost as if there really is no solution to this problem.
And Margaret is once again caught in the middle. She listens to the plight of dear, upstanding Bessy Higgins who is near death – her factory job literally having killed her due to terrible work conditions. And yet, she brazenly stands between Mr. Thornton and the angry mob getting a rather nasty head wound to defend his rights as mill owner. And I love that Margaret totally copped a feel, boldly throwing her arms around Mr. Thornton’s neck so publicly. I was good and properly scandalized! I also kind of chuckled at her head wound caused by the ‘pebble’. Seriously?
Of course, the major result of the angry mob is that Mr. Thornton has now decided that he can no longer live without his precious Margaret who has never offered him a kind word. But since she thrust her body up against his, it’s only proper that he propose marriage. Mrs. Thornton’s heart is broken because she will no longer be her son’s number one beloved woman. Entirely creepy. Margaret refuses his proposal. She’s offended by his proposal. Someone explain this to me please? What is wrong with this girl? In a modern day novel, I’d swear she was a lesbian. She wants Mr. Thornton to believe she would have acted the same way for any poor mongrel when faced with certain bodily harm by way of belligerent factory workers? Snort.
And lastly, Bessy takes her last breath. RIP Bessy Wiggins. Your life was hard, but your faith persisted until the bitter end. Your last dying wish was only to be buried in something of Margaret’s. And that’s not disturbing at all. Who else was offended that Dixon wanted to give the poor, dead girl something shabby?
A few minor observations:
Boucher – is this guy a douche or is it just me?
Frederick – what is so special about him? Why do Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Thornton have such bias towards their sons?
I felt so much for Mr. Thornton when he takes that basket of fruit to Mrs. Hale. Loved that he didn’t pay Margaret any attention.
Margaret still annoys me.
Excited to begin next week’s reading! We’re halfway to the finish line and things are getting exciting. Will Margaret ever learn how to say yes to a marriage proposal? Will she find another female companion to call friend? Does Mrs. Hale die before Frederick finds his way home?