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The Visionist Discussion Pt. 4

by 2 May 03, 2014

shaker women Hello there, book luvvers. This has been one of my favorite sections of the book so far, as it seems like each individual character is being drawn toward all the others. Things are sliding into place, in other words. As we learn more and more about each character, we see Urquhart drawing some really interesting parallels. We begin this section with Sister Charity, who reveals that Elder Sister Agnes has become more and more suspicious of Polly; Agnes doubts Polly's gift, and writes her off as “a girl whose body has barely been washed clean, let alone her soul[.]” Charity is quick to defend her dear friend, but it's pretty clear that she hasn't completely grown out of needing some kind of approval from her Eldress and former mentor. Is it perhaps jealousy that fuels Agnes' vocal distrust in Polly? Or legit righteousness? Meanwhile, Simon has been approached by two separate parties who are interested in the Kimball's farm and the fire that left it abandoned: one is Elder Sister Agnes, who appears to have her own ulterior motives; the other is Barnabas Trask, a solicitor in Ashland, who's eager to acquire the Kimball's property but definitely knows more about the details surrounding the fire than he readily admits to Simon. I love reading about the intricacies of Simon's mind; he's surprisingly sentimental, which we see when he begins to think of his own family while pursuing the wife and children of the late Silas Kimball. As Simon ruminates on his tragic life of indentured servitude to the miserable James Hurlsbut, I can't help but be reminded of the cruel and tragic way in which fate brought Charity and Polly together. Is Urquhart hinting at something here? Maybe foreshadowing a betrayal or a manipulation within the sisterhood of Polly and Charity? Poor little Polly. She's been in The City of Hope for months now and has had only one true vision. Sure, she's able to “call the angels” to comfort a badly burned sister, but even Polly herself questions the legitimacy of her gift: Polly cannot decide whether or not she actually summoned the angels of the Mother, but “she had been prepared to fake her gift if it would bring relief.” Polly eventually identifies as feeling indentured among the Believers (just like Simon!). Then there's the whole issue of her confession: out of fear of being judged, (For burning down her abusive father's home? For suffering the abuses to begin with?), Polly is still avoiding it. And Elder Sister Agnes is using every means necessary to increase Polly's guilt. Agnes pushes Polly to discuss her former life, which forces Polly into a sort of philosophical quandary, using the teaching of the Mother; she asks if Polly sees herself as attention-seeking with her gifts, or if she might be “of the children of darkness, “ meaning using her gifts to be misleading. At this point, Agnes knows that Polly's father is dead and she's considering how to best go about acquiring the left-behind land. This section ends with two important things: a supposed second Visionist within the community at The City of Hope, and the consequential “vision” that shockingly outed of two rather lusty Believers. The ever-weakening Polly confides to Charity that she doesn't buy Sister Eliza's performance, and she doesn't see the love between Sister Philomen and Brother look as a sin. Will this be the beginning of a rift between our two main Believers? Or maybe a chance for the both of them to break away from the teaching of the Shakers? Thanks for reading with us, luvvs! Come back next week to read Melinda's discussion on pages 203 – 269! katie-sig



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