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Peace Like A River: (9&10) By the Grace of Lurvy & The Substance of Thing Hoped For October 5, 2006

Posted by Han in Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.

Here we will discuss chapters 9and 10



1. Ashleigh - October 5, 2006

In chapter 9 is where I really saw Swede and Reuben as having to grow up fast. It’s interesting how they both react differently to it.

Swede seems to have a better grasp on reality than Reuben. She immediately takes on the task of caring for her father and the house. She’s aware of the finanical situation and how poorly their father is doing. We read of her as being “frighteningly burdened” (p. 116). What a heavy load for a nine-year-old to bear. I really felt for Swede.

Reuben, on the other hand, is slow to understand how desperate their situation is (as he notes himself). He remains more of a child in that he goes out to earn money, not realizing that his hard work will be contributing to the family income. Instead, he’s set on buying a canoe.

I loved the line where Reuben says, “Poor Swede, she always did think better of me than I had coming.” It made me think about what a gift it is to offer mercy and grace to others by thinking the best instead of naturally assuming the worst.

Also, I like how strength raises up in a sick and wasting away Jeremiah when he tells the federal investigator, “Mr. Andreeson, you and I will not speak again.”

And, the end of this chapter, Jeremiah tells them he’s been laughing “Because I was praying this morning; and I prayed Lord, send Davy home to us; or if not, Lord, do this: Send us to Davy.” I wanted to cry when I read this. Just thinking about the gift of the trailor (from a man that Jeremiah poured kindness on) and the joy it brought to a family that’s experienced so much sorrow and hardship. Funny how fiction can move us so much, huh?

2. Jane Swanson - October 5, 2006


We identify with characters in part by which losses theyโ€™ve suffered, and which have been hardest on them. This novel has hit me several times in areas where I’ve suffered loss, and I’ve been moved too.

3. Jane Swanson - October 5, 2006

Ashleigh, I was quoting your last sentence between brackets and it didn’t print, so that’s what my comment was refering to.

4. Ashleigh - October 5, 2006

In one of my posts on an earlier chapter I commented how bored I was with the pages describing Lurvy’s visit on Swede’s birthday. After reading chapter nine, it made sense why Enger included this. We needed to see the kindness that Jeremiah extends to Lurvy in order to understand why Lurvy wills his trailer to Jeremiah.

I love how well Enger sets everything up in this story. I’m looking forward to seeing more connections throughout the book.

5. Nicole - October 5, 2006

pg. 122

The scene where Rueben is struggling with the fact that he needs to use his hard earned money to buy food for the family is sad, endearing, and pretty funny as well if you look at it from an 11 year ods point of view. I love the inner struggle he has as he’s battling with the truth of their situation and the desire for a canoe.

“You don’t want a conoe, then?”

He asks Swede as if she’s lost her mind in that she wouldn’t want a canoe. It’s practical meets impractical. Reality versus fantasy. It made me think of the moments when I calculated how much my tax return would be and spent that money 100 times over only to talk myself back into the reality that I need to do…fill in the blank. ๐Ÿ™‚

I also loved the part in this scene as Sweede is doing the dishes:

“Normally I’d have taken a towl and wiped them myself, but it’s difficult to do productive work and fume simultaneously–the labor dissipates your righteous steam”

Hilarious! I laughed out loud when I read this thinking of how many times I’ve been upset and started doing some form of housework only to later realize I wasn’t upset anymore.

6. Nicole - October 5, 2006

I love the part on pg. 131 when the family is packing up to leave and Rueben is describing the scene to us in the wake of Dr. Nokes telling Jeremiah he is crazy to leave in his condition,

“How could we not believe the Lord would guide us? How could we not have faith? For the foundation had been laid in prayer and sorrow. Since that fearful night, Dad had responded with the almost impossible work of belief. He had burned with repentance as though his own hand had fired the un. He had laid up prayer as if with a trowel.”

What a testimony of Jeremiah’s view of God, WOW!

7. Ashleigh - October 6, 2006

Nicole, I loved that quote too about how they were traveling on faith. Also, I found this quote humorous, yet profound

Once traveling, it’s remarkable how quickly faith erodes. It starts to look like something else — ignorance, for example. Same thing happened to the Israelites. Sure it’s weak, but sometimes you’d rather just have a map.

It made me think about how faith has to perservere against fear of man. Fear of man that says, “Oh, people are going to think you are stupid and crazy.” I love watching faith against so many odds lived out in this book.

8. bethany3boys - October 6, 2006

Okay being a Little Women fan I loved when Swede was encouraging Reuben to do the right thing without flat out telling him explaining that Joe cut off her hair to help the family but if Marmee begged it wouldn’t have been as heroic. That cute little Swede is going to be a great Mom someday. HEE HEE. I love how she is constantly diving in to the stories she reads and pulling out little lessons and things that apply to their lives. I love how she uses the stories she has read to explain things to Reuben.

In addition to the Little Women story I loved Swede’s telling of Cole Younger and the

“Be true to your friends – though the heavens fall!”

9. bethany3boys - October 6, 2006

I also could relate to Jeremiah and his laughing out loud when his prayer was answered. So many times I have done the same thing. I pray but don’t pray with the expectation that it will be answered and then I am thrown off when it actually is and so elated.

I also loved the quote you all mentioned above about the Lord guiding and the foundation being laid in prayer and sorrow. I feel like that is such a true statment that could be applied to so many peoples lives.

10. heather - October 9, 2006

I thought it was interesting how the chapter opens up with a discussion of Christmas. “Christmas 1962 looked a little meager going in.” I can remember times growing up when my Dad was out of work or between jobs; as a child, I didn’t sit and think “Where’s the next meal going to come from?” But, I do remember (selfishly!) thinking “What kind of Christmas are we going to have?” or “Will I get to have a birthday party this year?” As a child your perspective is skewed, because it’s not “normal” in our society for kids to have to be concerned about putting food on the table or caring for a sick parent.

You can see Reuben’s fear of pending Christmas doom: p. 108 “Still, an unemployed father meant the sort of Christmas Swede and I had always heard of, or read about in books with titles like ‘Days of Despair.’ We pictured ourselves waking Christmas morning to bowls of oatmeal unadorned by so much as a teaspoon of white sugar. (‘Porridge,’ Swede said. ‘Mush. Gruel.’) We wondered how we’d do in front of Dad — how grateful we could appear for a gift of, say, a navel orange. In the books, kids were unfailingly thrilled by a Christmas orange; they never felt poor at the time, it only dawned on them later.”

Fast-forward through the chapter to the ending, and we see how much these kids have grown up as they’ve dealt with their dad’s illness and its consequences. I love that Enger re-visits the topic of Christmas, and we see just how much Swede and Reuben have matured:

p. 126 “The good thing about our reduced circumstances, going into Christmas, was that our expectations changed. They lowered themselves to a worthy place.” (I love that last sentence!)

“After walking in on my gaunt father I didn’t think about Spartacus anymore; after the money was spent, I was glad it had bought coffee and flour instead of a canoe.”

Swede sets about preparing Christmas dinner a day early, “I need Christmas now,” she says. “Our expectations were caught and surmounted by smells — an encyclopedic warmth of poultry, potato, ovened fruit, honey, yeast, coffee.”

“…when finally the plates were arranged and the cider poured and Swede lit a candle and pronounced a call for Christmas dinner, two things happened. Dad laughed aloud for pure delight. And someone climbed up on our porch and knocked. Did you see that coming? You ought’ve, I would say; by now you ought’ve. And yet so humble were our expectations for this Christmas — so glad were we to simply have our dad upright and able to laugh and his stomach to growl — not even uninvited guests could quench us.”

But instead of finding “some uninvited person with an appetite” (p.124), they find the DeCuellars bearing gifts and Tin Lurvy’s “marvelous benediction.” (p. 128) “I don’t have the gift to aptly describe the rest of that evening, except to say it was a Christmas Eve beyond all gasping wishes…” Wow! What a different description than we started with — “Days of Despair.”

11. heather - October 9, 2006


I, too, loved how Swede used the “Little Women” example to subtly change Reuben’s mind about how he’d spend his hard-earned money. She has wisdom beyond her years!

12. heather - October 9, 2006

All right, I’m not very computer savvy, so I have no idea how those happy faces ended up in my previous post! Maybe I was subconsciously trying to inject a little humor into my post! I’m definitely not as good as Enger, though. But, since I’ve mentioned his nuggets of humor, maybe I should go ahead and share the passages that made me chuckle in Chapter 9!

p. 114 “Who’re you?” I asked. “Raymond.” He said it ‘Raymod,’ the n getting detained up in nostril country.

p. 114 “Poor Raymond, his passages were so obstructed he had his own dialect.”

and my favorite is on page 125, when Swede is telling the story of Cole Younger, who has just been shot 11 times: “…I imagined the tired and oft-perforated outlaw…”

13. heather - October 9, 2006

I echo Ashleigh and Nicole regarding Enger’s description of Faith and Prayer in Chapter 10. Though the chapter starts off with the postcard from August Shultz, it’s interesting to note that the postcard didn’t arrive until the end of January, and Jeremiah starts preparing to go west the day after Christmas. “Understand, this was done on faith alone…Faith brought this about…faith would direct our travels.” p. 130

I love the line on page 131 “Since that fearful night, Dad had responded with the almost impossible work of belief.” I’m sure we all can relate to circumstances that seem beyond hope, circumstances that cause us to worry instead of believe. But this man, through the shooting, the trial, Davy’s escape, his firing, and his illness, has continued to believe the impossible. I love that he biblically describes his faith when he responds to Dr. Nokes, instead of simply saying “I have faith.” p. 130 “And Dad, eyebrows raised in delight with his forthcoming answer, said ‘I have the substance of things hoped for. I have the anticipation of things unseen.’ “

14. bethany3boys - October 9, 2006

Heather it is 8)

Smily icons are enabled so because you wrote the number 8 then your ) it turned it into the smiley guy with glasses. You would need a space I think 8 ) and you would be okay


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