In her book Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and The Body In Nineteenth Century America, Dana Luciano talks about how American attitudes about death shifted during this period and helped shape our lasting cultural relationship to grief. Death, she notes, especially the death of the child, is a uniquely emotional event that is a “disruption of the natural order of things” (28), and periods of mourning are by their very nature outside of time “as compensation for the ineradicability of loss” (37), forming something she calls “sacred time.” Hobson’s book begins with Ray-Ray’s death, the kind of key moment of disruption and grief that Luciano references. What scenes or sentences can you point to that indicate that Luciano’s idea of sacred time might also be at work in this text? What evidence is there that representations of grief and time that are different than sacred time may be at work?
Also, each surviving member of the Echota family has been dealing with their grief differently. Discuss their individual responses to Ray-Ray’s death and what effects that grief has had on their lives. At a glance, it seems as though Edgar’s grief has been most destructive, and Marie’s the least. Does that seem true by the end of the novel?
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