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The Memory Keepers Daughter: Chapters 3 and 4 February 6, 2007

Posted by Han in The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Here is where we will discuss chapters 3 and 4.

In chapter 3 we see Norah falling apart and the “secret” David has already having an impact on their marriage. This seems to reveal that lies and secrets between those we have relationships with begin to build a wall that separates people. What do you think of this statement? Have you experienced a lie or secret separating you from a loved one?

What do you think of Caroline not telling Norah? Do you think she was justified or do you think that it was morally wrong on her part?


1. Michelle - February 7, 2007

I just have to confess, I’ve been one of those thoughtless people who move on after the death of a baby- similar to the grandmotherly lady in Norah’s sewing group.

I had been knitting a blanket for a friends baby but stopped after she miscarried. I set it aside with intentions to finish it, however, when she conceived again I started a new one. Recently while cleaning out my house, I came across the original blanket and thoughtlessly tossed it, unfinished, into the trash. She happed to ask a few weeks later whatever came of the blanket. Without thinking, I told her what I did. Suddenly, I realized how insensitive that was. She linked that blanket to her lost child and I hadn’t the decency to at least offer her the unfinished blanket or complete it for her. I felt horrible. I hope that she forgives me and knows that I love her and all her children. And, I hope that I never again make small the loss of life or the minimize the extent of grief.

2. Jennifer Napier - February 7, 2007

It’s interesting to me the sense of intimacy that is established in the first chapter of the book. Norah and David appear to be happy, excited about their first child, and close. When David lies to her about Phoebe’s death you can begin to see how they start becoming more and more distanced from one another. The walls begin to build. I remember once as a teenage I went through a season of lying to my parents and that began to cause us to separate. I kept having to create and live more of a lie. The lie almost became my reality. I finally confessed to my parents and made things right between us. But it took a long time to build that trust. I can understand David’s anxiety is building, but part of me just wants to yell at him, “just tell her the truth. she’ll be angry but you’ll be set free of this burden!”

Hmm… Caroline. If I were her I wouldn’t know what to do. Should she rat out David and explain that he wanted this child sent to an institution? Should she just accept the fact that the child was given into her hands and made her then responsible? The Memorial service seemed to “seal the deal” that Phoebe was gone. How could Caroline tell Norah, “no, your baby is actually asleep in my car?” And yet how could she not tell her. Why not bring that broken heart joy and say that Norah’s daughter is still alive just not perfect like David expected.

Grief continues to plague, it just doesn’t disappear. it will continue ot eat away at Norah and David’s left living with his lie.

3. anne - February 8, 2007

A big Hello to our new members! Welcome Jennifer and to my cousin Sara! So glad to have you guys in on the discussion!

Lies…they always haunt you. Especially one this big. We cannot imagine things would just go on fine, and I wonder if deep down David knows this but just pushes it aside because he does not want to deal with the pain now. He says it is best for Norah, he does not want to destroy her, but really is it that he does not want to destroy himself as he reflects on his past? Good point about David and Norah beginning to distance Jennifer. It is interesting the intimacy shared and now the drifting of the two.

Michelle, I don’t think you should get to down on yourself! People deal with the loss of a child in different ways. Some people, like Norah, want to talk about it and have the gifts for her and talk about Phoebe. Others want to not forget the baby, but just perhaps deal with it quickly and focus on the future and not dwell on the sorrow and hurt of the loss. Perhaps that sounds heartless, but I had a friend tell me about a friend who had a child die at birth and she did not want to see or touch the baby. I did not understand that at all, I knew I would want to see my baby, for closure, just to see him/her but she did not, and I can understand that as well. People are just different and we cannot judge people for how they grieve.

Back to the story however, I want to cry with each page I turn.
Norah is really, really focused on Phoebe always dreaming of her, and I cannot help but think too that this is partly because David never did let her see Phoebe…of course she was not gone but alive and well with Caroline. How could he lie to her? Keep it up? Like Caroline said, “He would come to his senses wouldn’t he?” He didn’t though.
Jennifer, I don’t know what I would do if I was Caroline either. Part of me had hoped Caroline would have told Norah about Phoebe, but at the same time perhaps her jealousy( subconciously) of Norahs wonderful life made her stop and not come forward with the truth. Instead she turned around and left the city with Phoebe. I cannot help but love Caroline, her love for Phoebe, her quiet demenor and longing for love.

4. bethany3boys - February 8, 2007

Jennifer and Anne I think you both are right when it comes to Caroline and telling Norah about Phoebe. The whole funeral put a big closure on things and I think Caroline was somewhat jealous. I also think Caroline wanted to keep Phoebe to have the life she imagined or at least part of it. She talks about wanting to get married and have babies but she was getting older and nothing was happening in the relationship department soooo now was her chance at least to have someone to care for and love. I really like Caroline and was wanting her to have Phoebe and care for her. I knew she was going to love her. But on the flip side as a mother I would want to know the truth. And I think as we read Caroline is not effected as much as David and Norah by the lie but it has its teeth on her life too. So yes I think Caroline had good reasons to keep it to herself (and was hoping for that in the story so she could keep Phoebe) yet morally I think it was still wrong not to tell Norah or give David the option to do so by a certain time or she would.

The part where we begin to see Norah and David’s relationship change is sad to me. I keep thinking you dummy just tell her and it will all be better!! But I know there have been times in my life where I tell those white lies thinking I might be helping someone or it is just being nicer or better for them not to know the truth. Yet that always comes back to bite me in the butt. The issue becomes even bigger or the truth comes out and then I have hurt the ones I love. Yet times when I come forward and admit my lies things seem to work out. Better to confess than get caught. HEE HEE.

5. bethany3boys - February 8, 2007

Hey Michelle,
Anne is right. People all grieve differently and it is hard to know what to do without asking. What might be great for one person would be horrible for another. So don’t feel down on yourself.

6. Jane Swanson - February 13, 2007

I did just the opposite of you and gave the intended gift to a bereaved mother and it seemed to make the situation worse because the mother wanted to bury her pain and not deal with it. My gift brought the pain to the forefront. Even though, I agree that people handle grief differently, sometimes it needs to be seen as not handling it at all but just trying to get away from it and not deal. It WILL come out. You cannot bury grief and it comes at you when you least expect it in many forms.
I know this is a novel and the character Caroline has many reasons for acting as she did, but there would be a completely different story if she had done the right thing and exposed this lie.
I have read through 1964 and I am feeling angry at David and Caroline for not coming clean with this deception.

7. bethany3boys - February 13, 2007

Jane you are soooo right Grief does and Will come out now matter how we try to stop it. And I think it is important for it to come out or it obviously harbors bad choices later down the road…as we see for David here in this book.

After my miscarriage there were things I saved but stumbling on them one day caused lots of pain and I packed them up but kept them. I thought that would make me more in control of when I would grieve but it didn’t really matter. It would be triggered randomly by other things…things that were not even physical. I had to just had to take it to God and know that there is nothing wrong with being sad or grieving…it is a part of life.

8. Ashleigh - February 14, 2007

These chapters were so emotional. Anne, like you, I wanted to cry with every page. Especially when Norah talks about how lives aren’t interchangeable (p. 43) and wonders if Paul misses his twin (p. 44).

I found myself becoming very angry with David — for lying to Norah, for telling more lies to protect the first lie, for allowing the lies to tear at his marriage, for not taking Phoebe back when Caroline told him she still had her.

When it comes to deception, I believe the longer it is carried on, the greater it becomes and the deeper the hurt is going to be. If David would have told Norah the truth when he found out Caroline had the baby, yes, she would have been angry. But maybe she would have tried to forgive him and they could have found healing.

As far as Caroline goes, I think she should have told Norah. Yes, it would have caused her great pain to find out that David lied to her. But what greater pain if someday she finds out her daughter had not died after all and she was robbed of years with her?

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