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The Dry Grass of August
"A must-read for fans of The Help." - Woman's World
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Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

Created: 12/02/11

Replies: 14

Posted Dec. 02, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 495

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Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

Jubie's parents are clearly having problems but, until the end, Paula doesn't leave Bill, despite strong evidence of his adultery. Do you agree or disagree with her decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?


Posted Dec. 03, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sarahd

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 84

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RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

I don't agree with it, but I understand it. She's in a different situation than her brother Taylor who has a job and can support himself and his child. He doesn't need Lily for support, but Paula needs Bill - at least while he's making money at the company. (Once that goes down hill, leaving or staying seems like the same financial option, so she might as well leave.) She seems fairly acquiescent to his poor behavior - especially towards the children. We see her talking to Bill about his interest in other women, but it comes off as more of a whine, rather than an ultimatum or a discussion that is intended to change his behavior. We rarely see her say anything to him about his treatment of the children, which I found hard to take. She's a weak woman who is difficult to respect, but she is also a woman of her time, so I have sympathy for her situation.


Sarah D
Posted Dec. 03, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 80

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RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

During the 50s, women didn't really have a lot of choices. Most of them had no education, no job and no prospects for a job. Paula had to stay, there was no other way that she could take care of the children. Once there was no money, she makes the right decision and leaves Bill.


Posted Dec. 03, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
michelek

Join Date: 11/09/11

Posts: 2

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

She was a weak woman. She didn't stand up for herself, her children or Mary. It's hard ti image her allowing the abuse of her children, but she was dependent on her husband for everything. I am sure she felt like she was stuck.


Posted Dec. 03, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jeann

Join Date: 11/14/11

Posts: 42

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

Broken families were not nearly as common in the 50's as they are now. Nor was marital counseling as available then. I think that Paula liked her life style- having household help, the country club, her status in the community etc. The thought of having to raise the children on her own and all she would have to give up if she left her husband was probably what kept her in the marriage.
She should have left him a long time ago- He was not a good husband to her, a good Father to the children, and he was an alchoholic, with no plans of changing . Before he lost everything, didn't Paula realize that she had rights ? Maybe women in the 50's didn't know what rights they did have? She would have had financial support for her and the children- they were well-to-do as a family. By the time she left, their situation had changed, and ready or not, she had to give up her lifestyle and get a job.


Posted Dec. 04, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurieb

Join Date: 07/16/11

Posts: 15

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

It's easy to say that she made the wrong decision as an adult woman in 2011. But in the 1950's divorce, especially in the South, was fairly scandalous, and it's easy to see why Paula would stay put. But in the end, enough was enough and she found out that she could make it on her own


Posted Dec. 04, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothym

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 21

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

Did anyone else have a take on why Bill changed so drastically - my earlier comment on who changed the most said it was Paula but I think that may have been directed to who grew the most. If Jubie is a credible witness, Bill was apparently a good husband and father when they had very little. It appeared that success changed him - as it does some people - and that the possibility of losing it made his behavior more extreme. Not sure that anything could explain his child abuse. The other thing I found puzzling was why Jubie was the target of Bill's anger - maybe because he sense he couldn't control her?? Does anyone have any ideas on any of this?


Posted Dec. 04, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurak

Join Date: 12/04/11

Posts: 2

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

While I don't agree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill, I understand it, especially in light of the time in which the story takes place. Women of her social status did not work and divorce was frowned upon.


Posted Dec. 08, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
juliaa

Join Date: 12/03/11

Posts: 64

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RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

I'm old enough to remember the 50s. Women did not have the options they have today. Paula is not a particularly brave character, and she has four children to provide for. So I can understand her decision. while I hope it's not what I would do in her situation, I'm speaking from the perspective of today. In 1954, I'm sure she felt she did not nave a choice. So it's almost wrong to call it a "decision." In her world, she had very little choice (other than, perhaps, to have lived off her brother's charity--had she asked for it--for her and her children).


Posted Dec. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
Dax

Join Date: 07/17/11

Posts: 3

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

given the era in which the book took place I was actually surprised that Paula left Bill - I totally expected her to stay and the marriage end up as him doing his thing and her doing hers - a marriage in name only. which I think would've been the case had the only issue been Bill's infidelity b/c then Paula could've kept the house, the car, the club while the whole time "looking the other way". BUT the teenager dying as a result of the Watts Company's negligence changed all of that. Now there wasn't anything left to stay for which made the picture very clear for Paula and her choice was decided.


Posted Dec. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bettyt

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 116

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RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

I don't agree but at that time it was not all that common for the woman to leave her husband. The woman frequently looked the other way when abuse was going on. It was what was expected of her.


Posted Dec. 13, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sarahd

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 84

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RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

Just had a thought: The fact that Paula leaves Bill only after the money is gone makes me think that perhaps the only reason she stayed with him in the first place was not because of the children or because "leaving your husband at that time wasn't done" but because of the social status and money. If she was always staying for the children and to prevent the social stigma of divorce, these reasons would have been relevant even after the Watts Co. fiasco. Perhaps Paula is a little more materialistic than I thought...


Sarah D
Posted Dec. 17, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
terrio

Join Date: 08/16/11

Posts: 41

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

I think that the "appearance" of a happy family was a factor in Paula's decision to stick it out with Bill. As long as she could outwardly pretend that she had a happy family, she was willing to put up with whatever Bill did. But as soon as she could no longer pretend to other people that her family was perfect (ie, once Bill's company and Bill came under public scrutiny for the diving board accident), she was willing to break with him. The game was up at that point--no one on the outside would believe her fiction any longer. I think that if Bill had merely had financial difficulties without the public scandal, Paula would have stayed with him.


Posted Dec. 20, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sharonp

Join Date: 04/27/11

Posts: 9

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

Having been in a similar,though not physically violent, situation, I don't think there's an easy answer.
In that time frame, women had so few options. Most did not have the education to get a job that would support a family. I earned a nursing degree ,over the objections of my husband, before I could get out.


Posted Dec. 20, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dave s

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 20

RE: Do you agree or disagree with Paula's decision to stay with Bill as long as she does?

I think the comments by many of you are right on -- that divorce in the South in the 50's was not something that was done lightly. Plus the fact that the character Paula was not a strong person


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