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July 17, 2014 6:51 am  #1


To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I recently watched (and loved!) the series with Benedict Cumberbatch and have decided to give the book a go.

I read Lord of the Flies at school and was obsessed with it for a short time, but at some point many years ago, I started and couldn't finish a William Golding book, and decided I didn't like him any more.  I've left it far too long, and now that the series has interested me, this is a great opportunity to rediscover him.

The book is written as a journal: the journal we see Talbot writing in the mini-series.  It's such fun to read it and see how well Benedict Cumberbatch captured the character!   I often prefer to read a book before I see the film, but in this case, I think I'm glad I saw the TV version first as it's easier to picture the characters and keep track of them.   Some things were changed for the series but a lot of the dialogue and description seems to have been lifted straight from the book.

Anyway, I'm loving the book.   I think the main difference is that the book is so clearly solely from Edmund's perspective - it's his journal, after all, and nobody else gets a say apart from when he transcribes the dialogue.   Whereas although the film is still from Edmund's perspective, you feel as if you are getting a broader, more objective view as you see the truth of what is going on rather than having it filtered through Edmund's words.  The journal reads very much as if Benedict Cumberbatch (as the character) is speaking it.  Lots of "Good God!"s http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png
.

The edition I have is one volume, but I believe it was originally published as three separate books (and wasn't planned as a trilogy when the first was written).  I'm about half way through the first book.  Is anyone else reading it, or has read it, and wants to discuss it?  What did you think?

Last edited by Liberty (July 17, 2014 6:51 am)

 

July 19, 2014 5:38 pm  #2


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I've finished the first volume, which was a Booker prize winning book, called "Rites of Passage".  I really like the title, Rites of Passage, as there's plenty about rites (naval customs, class, etc.) and plenty about passage (passengers, passage by ship and passage to adulthood). 

One big difference between the TV series and the book, is that in the book you get to read Colley's journal as well as Talbot's.  That was unexpected, but I really liked it.    You get a different view of the same happenings and characters, and a different "voice". Both Talbot and Colley can be mistaken and prejudiced and get the wrong end of the stick. 

I'm also enjoying getting the background of Talbot's thoughts in print.  Some of this is in the TV series as well, as we hear him writing his journal, but there's more detail in the book.  I feel the book is sometimes more subtle than the TV series and you do sometimes have to read carefully and think about it (I'm guilty of being a skim reader so had to keep going back and re-reading!). 

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July 19, 2014 9:08 pm  #3


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I'm finishing third book right now and I absolutely love it. I really like Colley's journal, it has totally changed my opinion about him. When I was watching series and reading first part of the book I didn't like him at all, to me he was weird, silly and goofy. When I watched/read about his action I often thought "What are you doing, you idiot? Just stop, you are so annoying." But after I read his diary I suddenly realised that he wasn't stupid, he was just sensitive, gentle and good man and he did all this things in good faith. It was somehow sad when I was reading how much he liked Edmund and wanted to be his friend and at the same time knowing Edmund's real feeling toward him, how he despised and didn't like him.

I like books also because they're showing more Edmund's emotions, his motives, why he acted this way or another. Thanks to that I can see that his character is a little bit more complex than in the series (although I love Benedict version of Talbot, he showed so many emotions and passions).

Although the series is very accurate, for me there is one thing that is different than in the books. I mean captain Anderson character. When I was watching the series I thought of Anderson as very bossy and dominant person yet he didn't look so bad to me, sometimes he was even nice and charming. And when I'm reading book I can see rude, ordinary man, who thinks that he knows best, who acts like he is some kind of king or even god. I don't mind this change of Anderson's character though, I liked him in the series and I respect him in the books. Or maybe his character is just the same and I'm just thinking too much? What do you think?


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 19, 2014 9:36 pm  #4


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I'm still thinking about Captain Anderson's character!  When he was first introduced, I was so sure he was going to be a tyrant, but it turned out not to be so clearcut and I was glad of it.  In the book he is actually referred to as a tyrant several times, but that is by Edmund, who has made his own judgment.  I agree with you that he seemed more charming at times in the TV series, and possibly a more rounded character?   I think in both I was struck with what an unenviable job it was, stuck in this claustrophobic environment for months, trying to maintain authority over both the crew and the passengers, face death, make difficult decisions and cope with extreme boredom.   There seemed to be an awful lot of standing about.

There was some background in the story about Anderson's dislike of parsons, which I don't remember being in the TV series (maybe I missed it). 

I agree about the view of Edmund in Colley's journal.  He saw him as so noble and wanted to help him, but was completely off on the wrong track about Edmund's character and motivations!  It seemed to be painful and educational for Edmund to read that. 

Mr Prettiman seemed more attractive in the TV series.  Maybe that was to do with the actor being more attractive than the book's description, but in the book he seems even more deluded.

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July 19, 2014 10:14 pm  #5


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I think captain Anderson is somehow king. It's his ship, he is the most competent person around and what's more, in this closed community there is no one above him, no one that other people could go to and complain about his mistakes or behaviour. That means that he can do whatever he likes and he will probably never be judged for his actions. In that case, this ship is really his small, own kingdom. But I agree that he had to have strong, independent character. If he was soft and weak most people wouldn't have respected him and maybe feared a little bit and that may cost all crew and passengers their lives. Oh, and I agree that it was just Edmund opinion about Anderson. Maybe other passengers or crew saw him in very different way.

I think it's good idea to watch series and read books because (for example in my case) it was sometimes hard to imagine some scenery (when Edmund was describing something - mostly sea or the ship) or situations (for example when the crew was cleaning the deck from algae). And beacuse I've seen the series, now when I'm reading books I can perfectly imagine what's going on.

And I agree about Mr Prettiman, especially that I really like actor who was playing him http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


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http://38.media.tumblr.com/ddadc75684f49bb93aab27d07a65dc0f/tumblr_mix7t2MbiI1qagu44o7_500.gif
"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 19, 2014 10:42 pm  #6


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Yes, king or emperor, as Edmund would say.  Mutiny was a really serious crime back then, wasn't it?  I suppose everything had to be held together on such a dangerous journey, and the captain's responsible for making it work together (for instance, he had to decide whose advice to follow).  I suppose that's why he couldn't risk any officers being named when he carried out the investigation.  I wondered if we were meant to suspect any particular officer(s)?

I got a feeling of a little bit of resentment that this mature, experienced, "king" had to defer to Talbot in some ways, because of Talbot's unearned status.  And interesting that Talbot himself sometimes saw himself in a role of holding everything together, mediating between the passengers and the captain and so on.  It seemed a good preparation for politics!  I liked the conversations about class, status and so on. 

I agree about being able to watch it.  I would have been lost at some points in the story and unable to imagine the seafaring aspects of it. 

Loved this last line "With lack of sleep and too much understanding I grow a little crazy, I think, like all men at sea who live too close to each other and too close thereby to all that is monstrous under the sun and moon".   I've started Close Quarters now. 
 

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July 20, 2014 5:50 pm  #7


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I've just finished third book. Reading all of them was like a journey itself and I'm sad that this journey has ended. Gosh, I hate this feeling when I finish good book and I don't know what to do with myself. I sometimes envy people who can read a book, finish it and start reading next one. I'm always somehow inside of book's world and it takes me some time to leave and move on.

Adding some more commentary to things that I've written before - I absolutely like change of the narration style in second and third book. In the first book, which Edmund was writing for his godfather, his style was somehow pompous, he was choosing his words carefully and he was more focused on different situations that had happened on the ship. And in the next books, when he was writing only for himself, he wrote more about his feelings, he showed more his opinions about some situations and he was more eager to describe weather, ship and other things. This change of style was also in my opinion some kind of allegory that showed how Edmund had changed during this long trip - from proud, vain young man to more mature person, who knew his place and was more humble to whatever happened to him.


Liberty wrote:

  I wondered if we were meant to suspect any particular officer(s)?
 

I don't know if I remember correctly but I think that in the first book they were accusing (not officially of course) Billy Rogers - this sailor that Colley described as young and handsome, reminding him of a Greek god.
 


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 20, 2014 6:25 pm  #8


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Yes, Billy Rogers was suspected (and turned out to be the person that Colley engaged with - presumably Colley was attracted to him), but when they ask him to name other people, he asks if he should start with the officers.  At which point, Captain Anderson abruptly closed the investigation. 

I wasn't sure if he closed it to protect a particular officer (or even himself, although I don't think so) and we were meant to guess who?  It might have been for practical reasons as much as anything - he couldn't afford to lose any officers, but couldn't keep them on if they were accused of a hanging offence. 

Did you feel that Colley was actually falling for Edmund, but didn't know it?   I felt he had a crush on him.  And it was maybe being fired up by feelings for Edmund that contributed to him losing control with Billy Rogers when he was drunk. 

What I didn't quite understand (I need to read it again), is what made him start the investigation in the first place.   At first it seemed as if he was happy to have a cover-up with the "low fever" story, particularly as he was partially to blame if anything else had happened.  But then he changed his mind and decided to investigate.  

I've just started reading the second book.  One thing I like is Edmund's enthusiasm - even in this really restricted enviromnent, he's able to get excited about seafaring and want to be part of it and enjoy it all.  It's quite endearing. 

I feel the same as you about books!  I used to read avidly, but now I find it more difficult to get into books.  When I find one that I love, I don't want to let it go, and don't always feel ready for another one.  This book has been a very pleasant surprise.  I wouldn't have chosen it if I hadn't seen the TV series, but I'm so glad I did.

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July 20, 2014 7:06 pm  #9


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I think Edmund decided to investigate because of Charles Summers. It was this situation when Colley was lying sick in his cabin and Charles thought that Edmund should go and talk to him. Charles told Edmund then about all this responsibility and justice matter and I think, when Colley died, Talbot wanted to know why mainly because of this. At first cover-up story was good but I think he couldn't stand feeling ashamed because of situation. Maybe he also hoped that this investigation would make him feel less responsible for Colley death.

About Colley feeling something toward Edward - I'm not totally convince. I think he just wanted to be friend of Edmund because he considered him as nice, gentle and noble young man. It occurred to me that Edmund was never rude or unpleasant to him (well, not externally) so Colley must have liked him much more than any other passengers. But was it actually love involved in their relationship? I don't know but I guess all interpretations about their relation are equally good. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 21, 2014 7:10 am  #10


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Oh, I meant why did Anderson investigate, after pronouncing that it was a low fever.   Edmund thinks it's because he wants to make a show of  doing the correct thing, and no doubt his motivation for that is concern about what Edmund would record in his journal.   That will be partly why he involves Edmund in the investigation, so that Edmund can record that it was done properly.   But then it gets into dangerous territory when Billy Rogers is about to expose the officers.   I just wondered why Anderson took the risk of that happening, when it can't have been that unusual for people to just die of illness. 

I'm not sure what happened with Wheeler either.  Edmund seems to suspect that he was thrown off the ship because of what Edmund said in the conversation about servants having ears.   In the TV series, I don't think we ever do find out for sure.  It seems unlikely that Anderson would coldbloodedly throw him off because of what Edmund said, so I expect that didn't happen and it was just Edmund's imagination.   Maybe it will become clearer to me as I read on.

Last edited by Liberty (July 21, 2014 7:11 am)

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July 21, 2014 7:40 am  #11


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I think that Anderson has never thought that in Colley's death were involved some officers. He probably thought that only common sailors were involved and he found out the truth about the officers only from Bill Roger's mouth. Anderson probably wouldn't start investigation at all if he knew that some officers are to blame. I think in fact no one of the passengers suspected officers before Roger's interrogation.

I don't know if I should say this (you might be angry that I'm revealing the plot, if so, I'm sorry) but in the books we never find out why Wheeler ended in the sea. Edmund suspected (if I'm remember correctly) that Bill Rogers might throw Wheeler off the ship but this accusations were never confirmed. Pity, I really want to know the truth but all I can do is to guess what really happened.


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http://38.media.tumblr.com/ddadc75684f49bb93aab27d07a65dc0f/tumblr_mix7t2MbiI1qagu44o7_500.gif
"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 21, 2014 5:51 pm  #12


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Yes, I'm sure you're right about Anderson.  He thought he could find a perpetrator or a scapegoat and justice would be seen to be served.  I don't think Billy Rogers meant that the officers were involved in the incident with Colley, but that some of them were known to have sex with men.  I suppose it has always been a tradition on the seas, but presumably it was meant to be hushed up. 

It's a shame that if Colley hadn't seen it as such a sin, it wouldn't have been an issue.  Edmund doesn't seem at all shocked at the event itself (he describes it as "a ridiculous, schoolboy trick" (I wonder if it was common at his school?).  There would have been no shame, no investigation and it would just have been a funny incident. 

I'm not at all angry about you telling me about Wheeler!  I'm really enjoying being able to talk to somebody about the book!  I don't know anyone else who has read it. 

I haven't had much chance to read it today, but I'm grabbing the odd moment.   I do find Edmund appealing, even though he can be annoying at times.  I like his sense of humour. 

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July 21, 2014 7:21 pm  #13


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Liberty wrote:

I don't think Billy Rogers meant that the officers were involved in the incident with Colley, but that some of them were known to have sex with men.
 

Oh, I have never thought about this that way. But now when you mentioned this it makes much more sense than my interpretation. This kind of situations were probably absolutely normal things among sailors and officers, I guess it was some kind of open secret - everybody knew, no one talked about it. I think in schools may be the same situation, especially that in that times there were no coeducational schools.

I agree about Colley but we have to remember that in that times relationship between two men were probably a crime. And even if Edmund didn't care about this and there were no investigation, other passengers would probably condemn Colley for his action and that may caused the same result - his death. We don't know for sure but that's very likely.

I have to say that in the beginning of the story Edmund highly irritated me. I usually don't like this kind of character - proud, thinking that he knows best and that he is above anyone and anything. But when the story continued and Edmund was changing, especially his relationship with Summers, I started to really like him. Now I think that I shouldn't be so raw in judging him - all in all he was just young man, who was living and educating in specific conditions and it was unfair to expect him to be more than he could be.

There was only one thing that I can't stand in the books - I mean Edmund's love to Marion. I'm not romantic person at all but I usually don't mind when people are talking about love. In the series this situation was shown in normal way, without exaggerating. But in the books Edmund wrote sooo much about Marion and his feeling toward her that I sometimes think "Edmund, please, stop talking about Marion, it's enough. Write 6 pages about colour of the sea, but stop talking all the time about your love." http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 21, 2014 7:45 pm  #14


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Oh, yes, it was definitely a crime - didn't Anderson say it was a hanging offence?  But when the passengers hear about what happened, they just seem to find it very amusing.  Billy Rogers himself thought it was funny and was joking with the other sailors about it.   So it seems that as long as it wasn't made "official" it was tolerated and was seen as funny.  But if officers were accused of it, then Anderson would have to take action. 

I agree about how Edmund's character progresses.  He does learn as he goes along. 

I haven't got to Marion yet, but I didn't like that part of the story even in the film!  I liked her character, but Edmund just seemed to be a bit of a twit about it all.  I suppose he had had the bang on the head and it was first love - it felt very superficial, though.  He didn't actually know her.   It will be interesting to see what I think about it after reading about her.   You made me laugh, wishing he would write about the colour of the sea rather than Marion! 

I loved Summers in the TV series, and thought the actor was great (and very good-looking!).  I'm looking forward to reading more about him in the book. 

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July 21, 2014 8:18 pm  #15


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I just don't believe in love from the first sight so Edmund's feeling seemed to me exaggerated. In second book he wrote all the time how much he loves Marion, how he misses her, how unhappy he is without her by his side. My only thought there was "God damn you man, you spend with her less than one day and now I have to read 15 pages about how much you can't live without her and how are you eager to leave all your responsibilities and duties just because of her? Make up your mind!". Seriously, if you don't like this part in the series, it's very likely that you will hate this in books http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png


I don't like Marion at all. She showed absolutely lack of character both in series and in books. She was nothing like Mrs Prettiman who I like very much because of her strength and wisdom. She was calmness but at the same time she had guts. I love that type of female character.

Agree, Charles was one of my favourite character. I really love development of his friendship with Edmund - I'm sure that you will like it too. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 22, 2014 9:45 pm  #16


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I have got to Marion now in the book.  It does seem as if his "love at first sight" is related to his head injury.  The light around her could be a symptom of concussion.  In fact, I looked up the symptoms and "inappropriate emotional responses, such as suddenly bursting into laughter or tears" is one of them!  Some of his conversation after meeting her sounds like he's talking nonsense. 

I don't really believe in love at first sight - even though it has kind of happened to me, I think it's more obsession at first sight, with perhaps love following later.  I don't think you can really love somebody you don't yet know.   And I don't think Edmund would have felt or acted the same around Marion if he hadn't had the head injury.

I didn't mind Marion herself though.  She seemed quite fun and surprisingly tolerant of Edmund's nonsense.   I suppose that he was also a very eligible bachelor, though, and she was in a situation she wasn't happy with and had no income.   There were practical reasons for her to be attracted to him as well. 

Anyway, I've just recently started the Marion part, so will let you know how I get on and whether I change my mind!

I think Mrs Prettiman is a great character too.   In the TV series I almost thought she and Edmund were going to get it together (when she is cleaning him up and almost seems to flirt with him), but I didn't get that feeling from the book at all.  I don't think they were each other's types at all.

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July 23, 2014 12:22 pm  #17


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Liberty wrote:

I don't really believe in love at first sight - even though it has kind of happened to me, I think it's more obsession at first sight, with perhaps love following later.  I don't think you can really love somebody you don't yet know.   And I don't think Edmund would have felt or acted the same around Marion if he hadn't had the head injury.
.

I could agree to that but in the next parts of books Edmund was cured from his head injury and yet he was still in love with Marion even if she wasn't on his ship anymore. I think if he fell in love only because of his injury he would probably soon forget about her and feel only embarrassment because of his silly actions. But he didn't, so I don't think that his illness was involved in this process.

One part of me agree with your opinion about Marion but the other part of me still doesn't like her.
And it's strange because I can't explain my relucatnce towards her even after your logical arguments. I hate that feeling when my mind says that I should like some character but my heart shouts "I hate her/him". Well maybe I'm just too emotional while reading books. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

July 24, 2014 7:17 am  #18


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I think he may have fallen for Marion even without the head injury, but I think it's the concussion that causes him to see the light around her, and to act strangely.  He experiences those emotional extremes - feeling euphoric, crying when the girl is singing and so on.  And then mixed with all that is the opium that he's given for the concussion.  Not that he doesn't genuinely care for her, but I think it's the concussion that makes it such an extreme reaction to meeting her! 

What's slightly strange to me is that she encourages him so much, even when he's acting strangely.  But I suppose he does come across as rather sweet and besotted, and as I said, very eligible!  She has been stuck on a ship feeling ill and bored, and it seems like the only attractive, available man is not interested in her at all (Benet) - not that she was looking for that, but I think Edmund's attention is flattering. 

They do meet for such a short time though.  They don't really know each other, so it's difficult to imagine that they really are in love.   I think they're besotted/obsessed. 

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August 2, 2014 8:08 am  #19


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

I haven't had so much time to read, so I've only just now finished the second book (Close Quarters) and started the third (Fire Down Below).   The end of the Close Quarters was rather odd!  Edmund ends up locking the journal in a firkin, so it ends abruptly.   There is a lovely scene with Charles just before the end, though. 

I was struck by how Edmund is partially responsible for the deaths in both books.   "Responsible" is putting it too strongly.  I mean that both men (Colley and Wheeler) seemed to be looking to him for help and understanding, and he was oblivious.  In Close Quarters, he was caught up in the obsession with Marian, and later with Benet and what was going with the ship.   There seemed to be a few times when Wheeler approached him and hinted about the torment he was going through and Edmund fobbed him off.   There's no reflection on that at the end of the chapter, though (unlike with Colley), and I wondered if Edmund himself is meant to have picked up on it.   He seems more traumatised by the death than anything.  The fact that it was in his cabin must have been a clear message. 

Unfortunately, I know who dies at the end of the Fire Down Below, and I'm not looking forward to it.

What age is Edmund?  Did I miss it?  When he tells Charles his age, Charles is surprised at how young he is.  But we aren't told what age that is!  I had been thinking he was about 20, maybe 22 at most.   But maybe he's even younger.  18?  He doesn't seem to have done much before leaving for Australia, and his memories are still caught up in the world of childhood (his governess, his brothers).  And he sounds adolescent in his thinking. 

Last edited by Liberty (August 2, 2014 8:20 am)

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August 2, 2014 9:29 am  #20


Re: To the Ends of the Earth (William Golding)

Yes, knowing who will die at the end of the book is sad especially that I like this character very much. And knowing that his death was pointless makes it even more depressing.

I've never found out what age Edmund is. In the books there wasn't any information about this. I'll say that he is probably between 20 and 25. 18 seem rather young to me, but we have to remember that at this time people were considered as adults earlier than nowadays so he could be even 17 or younger. It's pity that we will never know.

I have to say that I have never thought of Edmund as a little bit responsible of Wheeler death. But as you pointed out, I guess we can consider that Wheeler's attempts to talk to Edmund were his way of asking for help. And in that case, Wheeler's death is a little bit on Edmund because he ignored him completely. On the one hand, Edmund had his own troubles and also he wasn't the only passenger in this ship (theoretically Wheeler could talk to anyone) but on the other hand maybe if he talk for a while to his servant this story may have happened differently. I don't want to blame Edmund for every death, not at all, I just want to say that if Edmund show a little more empathy maybe two people will be still alive. I think Wheeler story is one of the saddest in this books.

I really like to discuss this books with you. It allows me to look at some characters and events from another perspective

Last edited by MartaSt (August 2, 2014 12:27 pm)


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"Hey, chief, I might be wrong, but I think we're flying into a mountain. This makes me feel... scared of the mountain.
One thing we could do is pull up and fly over the mountain. How does that sound to...
"
 

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