Of course now that so many of us have discovered the love of North and South - the Crusade will never really die.
So I thought we would go out with a Bang! Hold on to your hats - this will be a long one - with LOTS of pictures!
One of the most delightful and unexpected things about this Crusade has been meeting other people - if only through Cyber space.
One of the people I have really enjoyed 'meeting' is Carrie Lofty. She was a Crusader long before we had a Crusade. We've emailed back and forth and I know Sula got to know her better. When we realized how much of a Crusader she was, her being a writer and all, we asked for her thoughts. She very graciously sent us her reply.
Here are her thoughts on an area of North and South I don't think I've come across in all the blogs I've read
I simply LOVE reading her thoughts on this!
John Thornton's heroism is not limited to his romantic relations with Margaret. In fact, his heroic character in North & South is more forcefully demonstrated by his interactions with other men.
Mr. Hale: Thornton's relationship with Mr. Hale, aside from establishing the means by which John and Margaret can properly interact, speaks to his ambitions toward becoming a learned man. He sees proper education--particularly relating to subjects outside of trade, such as history and philosophy--as a means of developing gentlemanly behavior and finding acceptance in elegant society. Thornton never acknowledges these ambitions outright; his spoken goals always center on the success of Marlborough Mills. After all, in a culture that values monetary success and hard work, education beyond the basics would have been seen as a prideful waste of time.
In seeking out Mr. Hale's company and tutelage, he gives away his innermost longings for acceptance--and possibly for a father figure. Mrs. Thornton deems Mr. Hale "too simple for trade," and at the Masters' dinner, Thornton himself admonishes Mr. Hale's simplistic view of Christian charity in business, but this does not dim his good opinion. "Mr. Hale is a gentleman," Thornton tells his mother--not an educated man, or a good man, but a gentleman. His thirst for knowledge and desire for respect beyond monetary success go hand in hand, and Mr. Hale is the man he entrusts with those secretive, unspoken dreams.
The Masters: Not only does Thornton hold gentlemanly aspirations, he is a fundamentally good man. At the Masters' dinner where they discuss fans for the cotton sorting rooms, he insists his decision to have fans installed was based on purely monetary concerns. Healthier workers are more productive workers. Yet he refuses to invest the payroll in monetary schemes. He keeps good care of the Irish workers he imports during the strike. And he never uses tricks or lies to deceive his workers. We see that he wrestles with the moral consequences of his every choice. His unshakable ethics blend with his business sense in a way that sets him above his less scrupulous, less heroic peers.
Henry Lennox: Thornton's brief interaction with Henry Lennox at the exposition is almost painful to watch. We see Thornton--a strong, confident, worthy man--reduced to an outsider because of his birth, his upbringing, and the nature of his fortune. Margaret has already rejected his marriage proposal, thereby exacerbating his basic lack of self-confidence in good society, and Lennox's family connections to Margaret leave him without solid footing. We know he could knock Lennox's head off with a few clean punches, and we know he will always out-earn and out-work Lennox, no matter the endeavor, but his deeply rooted sense of inferiority renders him powerless. He is still lacking a fundamental belief in his own value.
Mr. Bell: Ah, Mr. Bell. Is there a more perplexing character in North & South? By his faithful friendship to Mr. Hale and his generous guardianship of Margaret, he should have been well regarded by Thornton. But his nature stands as Thornton's opposite. He is facetious and sarcastic where Thornton is straightforward and contemplative. Mr. Bell is everything a proper gentleman appears to be, but Thornton's desire for acceptance in polite society never stoops to groveling at the feet of any ole' gentleman. He has standards. Mr. Hale is a respectable man of learning and delicacy, whereas Mr. Bell's influence has been purchased and manipulated by his considerable fortune. Neither is Thornton afraid to demonstrate his disdain: He refuses to shake Mr. Bell's hand at their final meeting, a most powerful snub.
Higgins is everything Mr. Bell is not. He is crass, unkempt, forthright, honorable, poor, generous, caring, and resolute. In short, he is Thornton's equal in all ways save money. We see, as Margaret does, that they are the two men best suited to bridging the tremendous gap between the Masters and the workers. Through his relationship with Thornton, Higgins is able to let go of his bitterness and find respect. Thornton, too, finds respect in that Higgins is the one character who truly understands the sacrifices he makes on behalf of the mill. Higgins has known bad Masters, and Thornton is not one of them.
One of my favorite scenes is when Thornton ventures to Higgins' house. His eyes flick over abject poverty, memories of his impoverished childhood hitting him in the face. They circle around a rough-hewn dinner table like warriors. They back down in increments, each relinquishing bits and pieces of pride until they come to a solid accord--and a handshake. Their intelligence and desire for a better way of life helps bring it about, whereas other men might have fallen back on arrogance or class, missing the opportunity.
They continue to build bridges based on hard work and clever thinking. When Higgins urges him to eat, Thornton admits he had not had stew in years--again, a reference to his childhood poverty. There is caring and respect on both sides. When they meet for the last time on screen and Higgins reveals what he knows of Margaret's brother, they are very near to equals. "I'm nobody's master now," Thornton says. But Higgins' respect never wavers. They shake hands with gusto, reassuring us that their joint efforts toward a better way of life in Milton will continue--a happy ending for more than just John and Margaret.
Thornton's heroism stands tall over those men of weaker character, but he yields to or compromises with male characters who, like him, maintain a sense of dignity, justice, intelligence, and passion. He blends those noble qualities--and a damn fine physical form--to become a perfect match for Margaret and a most memorable hero for us.
Now for something else. At the beginning of the Crusade we mentioned there were two contests; one for some books and one for a copy of the DVD.
But no one took us up on our second contest. And I still have the DVD sitting here waiting for a good home. So instead, I'm changing the rules. Anyone who is interested, leave a comment and your name will be entered in a draw. The draw will be made on - let's see - how about The Ides of March - which would be March 15th.
In case you are interested though - Katie and I both made an attempt at writing that final scene. For all those who watched - it somehow seemed to need one more final little bit. If you are interested in seeing what we came up with, click here.
One thing that Sula, Katie and I did if you remember, was to have a cyber pajama party. We thought it would be great fun to have a large one with many of us joining in. Let us know if you are interested. I think it will be a Friday night - not sure when - but soon. All you have to do is get into your jammies, grab a beer or a glass of wine or a cup of tea or whatever strikes your fancy and sign on to AIM and we will have us a grand party. Again, if you are interested, leave a comment and we will get working on the details.
I have to give a Very Special Thank You to Lisa Kleypas and Sabrina Jeffries for letting us see their thoughts on North and South. And to many other authors I contacted - though none had seen it - at least I got a chance to let them know about it too *g*
I don't have the words really to say how much fun this has been for us. As when I first started blogging, something special and unexpected happened. I got to know people better. I emailed readers I count as friends whom I'd never corresponded with before. I got to meet new bloggers and new readers. I'd love to mention them all but then I'd forget someone and feel bad so - just a big thank you to everyone. I don't know how many people remember but during the Crusade, one anonymous person posted that they were sick to death of The North and South debate. I found this rather amusing since, in a sense this blog is my place - well mine and Katies *g*, so the thought that someone - an anonymous would come and say they are sick to death of it made me laugh. It would be like someone in disguise coming to my house uninvited and say they are sick of my house. Doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. But I did get an email from a friend in support. This is what I wrote back to her.
Since this person posted anonymously I have no idea who it was. If they'd had the guts to give a name, I could have responded what this Crusade has meant to me. How the planning, the thinking about, the chats with Sula and Katie kept my mind off the approaching holidays. Holidays I was dreading since I lost Ron. It helped keep me from going into a deep depression - something that, believe it or not, can easily happen to me. It's also helped keep me sane for the month of house hell I've had - no kitchen, a living room that was in the midst of being redone when I lost my kitchen and I'm constantly dodging boxes and I'm tired of eating fast food.And through it I've really formed deep friendships with both Kate and Sula. I could have mentioned the absolute thrill it was hearing back from Lisa Kleypas in less than 24 hours after I emailed her to help us. What a lift it gave to me. Or the emails I've exchanged with other authors I've asked to contribute (most of whom haven't seen it - yet)I also would have said even though it seems we might be going overboard, the absolute joy I feel when someone else has seen it for the first time and *gets* what is so special about this production makes it worth it.I would have said I've found new blogging friends such as Ana and Thea at Book Smugglers and feel even closer somehow to the ones I already knew - even Jodi, who didn't like it as much as the rest of us *g*.I would have said it's perfectly all right if someone doesn't enjoy it as much as many of us seem to. There are readers who've loved books I've hated and vice versa. We aren't all clones of each other and each and every person has different tastes.
A final thought - this has been So Much Fun. Again, although this is the end of the 'official' Crusade, it will still go on! I'm still keeping my eyes open and will continue to add to the list.
I can't end without leaving you all with this scene. It's the final scene - everyone who has seen it knows it and probably most have watched it over and over and over. It's the icing on the cake of something very rare. For those who haven't yet seen it - it's a spoiler.
For me, it's the most beautiful and romantic endings I've ever seen - and I've been around for fifty some odd years