Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chapter 29: Meet the Rivers family

Ten more chapters! We can do this!

Okay, after last chapter's collapse, Jane is out of it for a while. Happily, Jane-the-narrator is able to report on some of the bedside conversations she overhears from her protectors. Which means we get to hear this tidbit from St. John (which, by the way, is pronounced Sinjin). Considering how his character is developed, this is the kind of thing I wouldn't be surprised to hear him say to Jane's face, but at the moment, he thinks she's sleeping:
"That is hardly likely," was the reply. "You will find she is some young lady who has had a misunderstanding with her friends, and has probably injudiciously left them. We may, perhaps, succeed in restoring her to them, if she is not obstinate: but I trace lines of force in her face which make me sceptical of her tractability." He stood considering me some minutes; then added, "She looks sensible, but not at all handsome."
St. John, on the other hand, is pretty much the textbook example of handsome. Not that he cares.

Jane finally gets moving again, and heads to the kitchen, where she has a little tiff with Hannah, the housekeeper. Miss Eyre does not consider herself a beggar (despite the fact that she was, in fact, begging in the last chapter), and she sets Hannah straight on her position in the social hierarchy.

This is the kind of stuff that leads people to call Jane Eyre a fundamentally conservative book, while others focus on the proto-feminism and Jane's independent spirit and some of the narrator's more open-minded opinions.

Once order has been restored, Hannah provides an overview of the household: St. John, Diana, and Mary Rivers, all recently orphaned adults. St. John is the local minister, and the girls work as governesses.

When Jane has her first conversation with them, she pretty much refuses to tell anything about herself:
"The name of the place where, and of the person with whom I lived, is my secret," I replied concisely.

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