FC: Blaine's Way Monica Hughes Nicole Unteriner ELA A30
1: “One day, I promised myself, I’ll leave Cornell and find the real world, the world where dreams come true, where we aren’t poor anymore. And I’ll take mom with me.” | “A train went by, shaking the house. Mom stared out the kitchen window, past the mulberry tree towards the tracks. ‘That’s the real world,’ she said softly. ‘There, at the end of the line. Oh lord, how I wish’ She leaned her head against the glass, watching the train go by. I stood beside her, watching the cars. If you could count all the cars in a freight train and get it right, you’d get your wish, mom said. But I could only count up to twenty-five in that spring of 1931.” | Connection: I can connect to wanting out of where you are, or not being happy with your circumstances, and wanting to find the “real world.” Being in such a small, secluded town it’s easy to forget that there is more to life than what is here. Sometimes life is hard and it would be nice to just up and walk away. Unfortunately life is not something you can walk away from, and the only way to change your situation is by hard work and education. | Chapter One
2: Chapter Two | “It wasn’t fair for trains to set light to fences and fields. Didn’t the rich people in New York and Detroit understand what it was like to be a farmer? People in cities were supposed to be that much smarter than us, weren’t they?” | “I rang and rang. At last one of the men turned and waved. The clatter of the threshing machine stopped suddenly and it was quiet, as if someone had flicked a switch to turn off the whole world. A cloud of golden dust hung above the barn. The men appeared from it one by one and walked slowly up towards the house.” | Connection: “Should I climb the tree today? Up at the top the wind would be cool and I could pretend to be in a pirate ship.” When I was little, because my sisters were so much older than me, I was alone a lot and therefore had to entertain myself. Like Blaine, I had an active imagination, and can relate to pretending to be on a pirate ship.
3: “’You could have asked Dad for help any time in the last two years. That’d have made some sense. Maybe we could have hung on and made a go of it. But you were too proud. Too damn proud. And yet you’re asking for his help now. It makes no sense at all.’” | “The new snow glowed in the starlight. There was no sound except the sound of the bells on the harness of the horses and the singing sound of the cutter rails over the snow. I fell asleep before we got home and woke in a muddle, being lifted out and into the familiar kitchen, dazzlingly bright in the lamplight, with the stove blazing and stew and hot biscuits ready on the table.” | Chapter Three | Connection: Blaine feels a sense of pride talking to and helping the older children. I can relate to this feeling because when I was little I had and older sibling and cousins that came to the same school and I always felt proud or happy when they talked to me. It made me feel important.
4: Connection: I can relate to how Blaine feels about his great-grandmother, except I feel that way about one of my aunts. The older she gets the crankier she is and the more I try to avoid her. I am always biting my tongue around her, afraid to be snapped at for no good reason. | “I twisted around to see the last of the railway. No more luck earned counting freight cars. No more dreams of New York and Chicago. No way out. That was something Mom used to say. Now I knew what it meant. When the road curved and the railway line was out of sight it was like a door slamming.” | “Parents and children and growing old. It made me feel quite funny to think about, so I stopped thinking and began to look around. The road was shaded by huge elms. Set back from it were farms with doors and shutters nailed tight, some with shingles blown off the roof, so they looked even sadder and more neglected than others.” | Chapter Four
5: “They stayed for a week, spinning yarns with Gramma and Grandpa about the long-ago times when they were all young, remembering how they’d ride to barn dances and come home three parts asleep just as the sun was rising, the horses finding their own way back to the stables. I looked at those four wrinkled old people and I simply couldn’t imagine it; except now and then Gramma’s voice would get a lilt in it and she’d laugh and hold her head in a certain way, and then, just for a second...” | Chapter Five | “So Dad and Charlie and Uncle Bob and the hired man got the harvest in, helped by the neighbors who were going to rent Grandpa’s threshing machine once we were through with it. There was plenty to do, getting dinner for twenty or so people; but it was never a panic, as it had been down on the Cornell farm. There were always enough willing hands and times for gossip and laughter.” | Connection: When Blaine’s parents and their friends are visiting, Blaine finds it hard to imagine them as young people. I have this same problem. It’s not my grandparents that I can’t imagine being young (because I didn’t know them enough to hear their stories), but my mom and her siblings. They are forever mentioning the shenanigans they got into and I just can’t picture it. Sometimes, though, I can picture it. My uncles will get a mischievous smile and suddenly all of the stories I’ve heard of their childhood don’t seem that farfetched.
6: “‘Yeah. That’s what I’d have wished for too.’ He didn’t laugh. We lay in comfortable silence while the memory of my train shook the room. After that night John and I were more than just cousins. Though there were four years between us we were like blood brothers.” | “’She’s not really going to die, is she?’ This was the first time death had reached out to someone I knew well, not counting Grandpa’s brush with the Toonerville Trolley. Could death touch us, the young?” | Connection: “’There. Coral Island. But don’t you dare start it until you’ve done your homework and your cores. I warn you, It’s addictive.’” I can connect to Blaine’s love of reading and dreaming. I could waste a whole day with my nose in a good book, It’s like nothing else matters, and I lose myself in whatever fictional place I’m reading about. I also love to dream about the future. Like Blaine, I can’t wait to leave and find something more exciting, or interesting. | Chapter Six
7: Connection: I know what it is like to have that special bond with a pet. Unlike Blaine, I don’t have a friend in a dog, but in my cats. I know how reassuring it is to wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare and have something warm and safe there to comfort you. | “That night, after a bath and a rinse in rainwater that made her hair silkier than ever, Goldie slept at the foot of my bed on an old blanket Gramma had dug out for me. When I woke sweating from a nightmare in which I’d taken Susan into a dark wood and lost her there, I sat up and there was Goldie. She raised her head and looked at me. I could see her eyes flash in the moonlight. | Chapter Seven | “On Saturdays and Sundays I’d take a packed lunch with me and head off along the concession road, either east or west, cutting down lanes and across country, not going anywhere, just mindlessly walking, kicking up the heaps of brilliant leaves, smelling the bitter-sweet death smell of fall, listening to the lonesome cry of geese skeining across the sky and the raucous call of marauding crows. When I came to a little town or even a village I’d skirt around it, so strong was my need to be alone.”
8: Connection Not much has changed in the way the world views and thinks of royalty. In this chapter the Kind and Queen visit Blaine’s town and there is really quite a spectacle made of it, just like there was with the royal wedding. I personally don’t see the point in putting all that effort into seeing someone you barley know. I know they’re important people, but I’d rather deal with them on a more human lever rather than on the pedestal society has placed them on. | “There was a lot of gossip about Maud’s behaviour, and the whole affair worried me, so I went down the road to talk it over with John. He was the only person I could talk to aboutstuff like that. Grandpa and Gramma were too old, and I never had that kind of family feeling from Charlie, for all he’d been married to Aunt Rose for four years. He was okay, but I couldn’t trust him not to tell Rose.” | “It was a glorious day, on the edge between summer and fall, with the leaves barely beginning to turn colour, so that the green shaded into the gold and orange and the trees looked extra round and lush. The harvest was in, but the fields hadn’t been ploughed over yet, and the stubble shone silver.” | Chapter Eight
9: “The first thing I’d promised myself I’d do on this furlough was to go down to Tillsonburg and visit Dad. I caught the bus down and went to his rooming house. Like everyone else he was doing better financially, but he still had the ghostly look I remembered. What caused it? I wondered. Was it losing the farm? Or Mom’s desertion? Or was it something more like rust, something slow and insidious, growing from some small spot of weakness until the whole frame was eaten up by it?” | “The lorry left the city and the suburbs behind and then we were in the green countryside, but only for a minute or two. Every few miles we’d slow down and wind through another town or village. I couldn’t believe people living that closely together.” | Connection: Blaine notices his dad still isn’t the same man he was when Blaine was a little boy. He still had a “ghostly look.” I know people like this too. For example, after my aunt lost a close family friend, she wasn’t the same for a long time. My aunt’s house felt empty as well, like something was missing—her joy. | Chapter Nine
10: Connection: “Well, you know what they say about dress rehearsals.” This line is thought by Blaine before they do a practise run of the ambush they have planned. He’s got a good point about dress rehearsals, they rarely go on without a hitch. There is always some minor (or major) disaster that comes up. When it comes to the actual show though, everything goes perfect. I remember when I was younger and was involved with the drama group. When we did dress rehearsals quite a few of the actors forgot their lines, but then did perfectly fine for the real show. | “Every morning we’d roll out of our blankets, line up at the mess tent for breakfast, and then be on the road with our packs, masks, helmets, grenades, rifles, the lot, all in all about sixty pounds weight. Then we’d march fast along the country roads that criss-crossed the island. Eleven miles in two hours flat. The second hour was pure torture.” | “I took a long swig of straight Scotch that brought tears to my eyes and made my throat scream. Were they crazy, these people, with their ‘safe landings?’ John was gone. I wanted to run out into the darkness, to race across the fields and scream at the sky, at fate, at the Nazis. At God, if he was listening.” | Chapter Ten
11: “We stood up and yelled. This was exciting! Then sudden spouts of water shot up around us and fell like rain on our shoulders. The air was bitter with the smell of cordite. I heard a sudden like hail on the water and a cry of pain from the assault ship next to us. Shrapnel! We ducked down and crouched against the comparative safety of the bulwarks. That was us they were shooting at.” | “I blacked out for a bit. The next thing I’m sure of was being on the deck of a ship. It was pitching and tossing, rolling from side to side like a porpoise. Turned out it wasn’t an assault ship at all, but a destroyer that had nipped in and picked us out of our sinking landing craft. Our lucky day I guess.” | Chapter Eleven | “Crouching out of the line of fire I couldn’t see a thing, but over to my right the pebbles were piled until they were only three feet below the top of the wall. I crawled over and peered across the esplanade. A bullet whined over my head and I dropped and pressed my face against the cold pebbles, sweating with fear.” I can remember being so scared that I was sweating with fear. I’m not sure, but I think this was when my dad was sick and we just found out he wasn’t getting better. I was scared for him, as well as for my family and life as I knew it. What was going to happen, would we be okay?
12: “Gramma and Grandpa were waiting. I looked at the two dearest people in my growing-up world, the people who’d given me a centredness, a security; and I wondered why I had ever wanted to turn my back on them, on the farm, on the daily patchwork of sugaring off and ploughing and seeding, of haying and threshing, of the daily rhythm of cows and chickens?” | “And it’s in memory of cousin John and Jim Aitken, Pete and Alex, Steve and Mike, all the boys who never made it back from Dieppe and Normandy and Italy and the Far East. We truly believed that there was going to be peace, that what we had gone through was worth it; now it seems to me that greed was the winner, greed and fear.” | Chapter Twelve | Connection: When the book goes back to the present and Blaine is talking about how it is the next generations turn to deal with everything and keep the world turning, I know exactly what he means. I have thought about the future a lot this year and it scares me that soon I will be contributing, more so than I have been, to society. My generation has to deal work with what other generations have done. We are the future leaders of the world!