A Gate at the Stairs: Chapter 3

Hi, everyone:

Chapter 3 is jam-packed. More Sarah oddities. The introduction of Edward and his hair cape. Their marriage and Tassie’s assessment of it. Baby Mary. Roberta and the Adoption Option. I’ll share with you what really stood out for me in this chapter, and I would love to hear the same from you. I took note of:

1. Moore’s mentioning of stairs and gates. “Gate two, upstairs” (page 77) at the airport. Sarah’s running the wrong way up the escalator stairs. The front gate at Sarah and Edward’s house with the broken lock. Did you notice this as well? What do you think the gate and stairs signify?

2. How visual Moore is in her descriptions. I can see Sarah, Edward, Roberta, Bonnie, baby Mary in my mind’s eye. I really like how she paints pictures of both the tangible and the intangible. She references color often in these descriptions, so I really do see what she is talking about. I was particularly struck by her description of Bonnie’s sadness (page 96). I could feel something that, as a mother, I couldn’t comprehend. I found Tassie’s observation that she, Sarah, and Edward were “a team of rescuers and destroyers both” devastating.

3. The many references to death and violence. Sarah’s mentioning, twice, that she had murdered someone and American Express had paid for it. The fact that Mary’s conception may have been the result of rape, followed by Sarah’s characterization of all sex as a form of rape. Tassie’s/Moore’s commentary on artificial sweetner, “Death and dessert, sweetness and doom, lay side by side” (page 89).

4. The bizarre connection between Edward and Sarah. “The family that sleighs together stays together,” says Sarah after her second mention of murder (page 115). Why are they together? What is up with Edward? Is he to be feared or just laughed at?

5. The unclear role that Tassie plays in this family: mother, child, mediator. I’m falling for Tassie—or, rather, feeling for her.

I could go on, but I want to hear what struck you. Also, start thinking about questions you would ask the author, if you had the chance. Next week’s assignment is Chapter 4, and it is a long one—90 pages.

—Gary

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