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Mercy Train
A poignant look at three generations struggling with loss and love.
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Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

Created: 06/03/12

Replies: 14

Posted Jun. 03, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
admin

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 369

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Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

There are a lot of secrets that are kept by the women in the novel (e.g., Violet's abandonment by
her mother; Iris's trip to the Drake Hotel; Sam's abortion). Why do you think they keep these
secrets - even from those closest to them?


Posted Jun. 04, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
terrio

Join Date: 08/16/11

Posts: 41

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

We all keep secrets, and in many cases, our families know us less well than our friends do. That's one of the fascinating things about this book--realizing how many secrets these women kept and wondering what secrets lurk in one's own family!


Posted Jun. 05, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
elizabethm

Join Date: 06/05/12

Posts: 35

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I think that the women learned from each other to keep secrets. I think that we learn what we can and can't share with those around us from our families. So in the book even if Sam's mother would not have had any particular problem with Sam having had an abortion, because Sam was raised in an environment where people didn't really share anything her impulse was to keep it a secret.


Posted Jun. 05, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
annar

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 31

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

Sometimes it is better to keep a secret than sharing it with your family. Some things are so private they don't need to be shared. Sam's abortion was something she needed to keep from her Mother.

One secret that I wish had been shared was Violet's childhood and the Orphan Train. Iris would have loved knowing her Mother's story.


Posted Jun. 07, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
djn

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 57

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RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I agree that Iris would have loved to have known her mother's story, but I think Violet learned to survive but moving forward instead of looking back...I think everyone's personality and background determines what you keep to yourself ...It may be embarrassment, fear, judgement, or maybe a lack of importance of the incident.


Posted Jun. 07, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
terrio

Join Date: 08/16/11

Posts: 41

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

Sometimes people keep secrets because they are afraid of being judged. I definitely think that's one reason Sam didn't tell anyone about her abortion. Maybe Violet didn't talk about the orphan train because she was afraid people would think that she made the wrong choice to leave her mother. (She probably questioned her own decision her entire life.) Or perhaps she thought that it was her fault that Lilibeth didn't love her enough to give up the men and the drugs and do what was best for her daughter. Or maybe she just wanted a clean slate and didn't want to look back.


Posted Jun. 07, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
elizabethm

Join Date: 06/05/12

Posts: 35

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I agree with poster djn that Violet learned to survive by moving forward instead of looking back and I think that a lot of us do this in our own lives. It is too painful or difficult to examine or dwell on the past and so we just keep motoring forward. However, i think that often when the past is ignored it continues to bubble up in ways that maybe we hadn't expected.


Posted Jun. 10, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 244

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RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I think that in Violet's case she had been so traumatized by her lack of a good and caring mother she really wanted to put all of that behind her. Also, having had no role model of a good mother I think she focused on the basics of survival and giving her daughter a home and food etc. which she had not had and did not want to become too emotionally invloved so as to avoid the abandonment feelings she had with her own mother.
As far as Iris, again, based on her own role model she did not have a strong emotional attachment to her daughter. A think she was an attentive mother but had no idea how to relate to and adult child or that she had either a responsibility or need to use her daughter as a confidant. Samantha, was extremely attached to her child and feeling so quilty about the previous abortion which I think she felt that she could not share with her mother as that type of relationship had never been part of her life. Sort of a never ending cycle but hopefully Sam will be able to break that chain.


Posted Jun. 10, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 35

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I agree with terrio. Women especially blame themselves, feel guilty and ashamed. They feel they have to maintain an image of a "good" person. They fear if someone knew what they were really like, they would not love, respect or want anything to do with them. Joycew


Posted Jun. 10, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Navy Mom

Join Date: 04/12/12

Posts: 100

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RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I think Violet kept her secret because at that time in history her situation carried shame with it. It seems she did try to make some contact later with her mother but couldn't. Her relationship with her husband didn't seem one where you would share feelings. I think Violet did make a connection with Iris by taking her fishing. Iris' secret wasn't one that you would share with your children. Children don't usually see their parents as "lovers" to anyone. I think that allowing Sam to see her at the concert was a way of sharing. Sam's secret was definitely guilt, but it was guilt that came on after she had made emotional decisions. She aborted the baby because of practically and fear she wouldn't be able to care for it. I have heard that other women that have had abortions later feel guilty and remorseful which would only make sense. When they lose the child that way they don't get to publicly or probably not even privately morn it which would take a toll. Then Sam helps her mother with the pills. I am hoping that having the time to actual morn or mother will also be a chance to morn her child and come out of it healed.


Posted Jun. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
marymargaretf

Join Date: 09/05/11

Posts: 18

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I think that sometimes you need to keep moving forward in order to cope with the past. Violet loved her mother and she was deserted by her mother even when they were together. It was a matter of survival; it was her way of coping with the hurt that was magnified when her mother put her on The Mercy Train. Her survival skills continued on her train ride and throughout her life. It was fortuitous that she ended up at the hospital because I don't think that she would have been as successful in an intimate family setting. She had the space in her life there that she needed. This self-reliance that developed throughout her life enabled her to keep counsel with herself and enabled her to keep her secrets.


Posted Jun. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurieb

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 15

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I think that sometimes keeping secrets from people you care about is a loving thing to do. It "protects" them. Parents want their children to have better lives and so may not want to dredge up unpleasant past memories


Posted Jun. 12, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
elizabethw

Join Date: 05/10/12

Posts: 9

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I agree with terrio. We all keep secrets for a variety of reasons. Am I the only one who has a friend with a list of "things to dispose of" if I should pass unexpectedly? Surely not.

elizabethw


Posted Jun. 14, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susanlsimon's Gravatar
susanlsimon

Join Date: 12/05/11

Posts: 8

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I think that they felt their secrets exposed would make them less lovable and more vulnerable..


Posted Jun. 20, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dhaupt

Join Date: 06/20/12

Posts: 10

RE: Why do you think the women in this novel keep their secrets - even from those closest to them?

I don't think in some instances the women knew who to tell their secrets too and they also felt that once the "cat was out of the bag" it wouldn't have as much meaning to them.


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