Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Say, how's the weather?

I don't know if it was our discussion Tuesday about connecting this novel to The Waves or just that I saw Anatomy of Gray recently, but something that stuck out to me about this novel was the constant references to the weather (in the play, some scenes will begin with the characters remarking on the weather outside). There are two things that seem strange to me about the weather references: first, that they are there to begin with (I usually don't remember the weather outside when I am telling a story, and Kathy has much bigger things to tell us than the weather) and second, how insanely specific these references are. For example, the first reference to the weather comes to us on page 7: "There was bright sunshine, but it must have been raining earlier that day because I can remember how the sun was glinting on the muddy surface of the grass."

I know the weather was somewhat important  because Tommy splashed mud all over himself, but never once have I even thought about the weather in such specificity. To me, the continuous references to the weather make Kathy seem unreliable... It seems that in every story she tells us, she remembers the exact weather of the day! How is that possible? Furthermore, Kathy even admits that "This was all a long time ago so I might have some of it wrong..." (13). What in the world is the weather doing in this story?!

I want to believe that it functions like the wave sequences in The Waves and Anatomy of Gray do-- that the weather in the story indicates its content. For example, in the above story, the weather would mean it's sunny, so starts out good, but then has the potential to get muddy since the grass is wet. When Tommy breaks up with Kathy, Kathy reminds us that the weather was "really foggy, and [she] knew the field would be soaking" (280). Again, the climate of the setting seem to indicate the climate of the story. If this is true, either Kathy is making up the weather of each story or her life is full of foreshadowing clues and crazy coincidences. What do you guys think? Do you find any anomalies to my theory? Do you have a better idea?

Sorry for such a long boring post about weather, but this has discombobulated me from the beginning. I never start my stories out by describing the weather.


  1. Fascinating post! I don't exactly think that Kathy's fixation on weatherly descriptions is abnormal in comparison to traditionally observant narrators, but I think it is certainly an exception to her established mode of often bland and lacking narration. Over-insistence always seems to inspire questions of reliability.

    One thing I might argue against your theory is that in the quotation you referenced on page 7, there seems to still be a subtle acknowledgment of her memory's fallibility as she says that it "must have been raining", implying a sort of assumption. I'd be curious to examine whether other instances that detail weather contain these sorts of qualifications or not...

  2. While I agree that it seems strange that she is able to remember the weather so well, I personally feel that her saying "This was all a long time ago so I might have it wrong" was similar to her "So I'm not trying to boast/ Okay, maybe I am boasting now" comment way back on page 3.

    Is it possible that her saying that she didn't actually believe it when she mentioned that she might have been wrong about the weather, and was simply (and I don't think this is the right wording I'm looking for), trying not to sound presumptuous or to sure of herself about actually remembering something that far back?

  3. I think I agree with you, Jamster, on this one. The weather references seem to be too frequent and detailed to be there solely for the sake of adding fluff to Kathy's memory/story. I think there's definitely a correlation between the goings-on for Kathy and the gang and the reactions of the physical world around them. I think it may be more than just the weather, even. The bog surrounding the boat seems to be along the same vein, and doesn't necessarily depend on the weather (they talk about it being dryer when there hasn't been rain, but there's still going to be a bog there). I'm don't think I know what to make of the weather references, but I agree that they probably have some purpose. I think the climate may be there to reflect the goings-on in the story, but it seems too easy and straightforward to be the sole truth. I don't know, but I think it's definitely worth bringing up tomorrow (and I also want someone to give me great insight about the weird little pictures at the beginning of every section).

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  5. I agree, that weather seems to play a very important role in this novel. Weather (seasons, that is) marks the 4 times a year that the Exchanges were held at Hailsham. Thus, there are moments when weather serves as a very predictable marker of time/event/purpose. At the same time, however, I noticed moments in the text where weather reflects ambiguity and uncertainty. As Kathy looks at Ruth, she states, "There's a breeze messing up her hair, and the bright winter sun's making her crinkle up her eyes, so you're not sure if she's smiling at our antics or just grimacing in the light" (161). This definite break from the expected, the certain seems to demonstrate the importance of alternatives in the novel. Kathy remembers exactly how the sun made Ruth crinkle up her eyes (a visual image), which then allows her to reach beyond this--to offer how the same external expression can reflect different interiors.


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