"The Chaperone" Chapters 1-8: Ignorance and Confusions
By Karen Ballum on July 18, 2012
Laura Moriarty slowly eases us into Cora's life in The Chaperone. When we first meet her, it's a little bit easy to assume that Cora that is a typical 1920s housewife but there are little things at the edges giving hints that everything is not quite as it seems. I think the most telling bit of text in this section of the book is from when Cora's grandniece is having a conversation with her about the Ku Klux Klan. One of Cora's friends had considered joining the Klan and Cora's grandniece is horrified that anyone would have considered it.
"Where people just stupider then? Meaner? Maybe, Cora allowed. But it was foolish to assume that had you lived in that same time, you wouldn't be guilty of the same ignorance, unable to reason your way out. Cora herself had only escaped that particular stupidity because of her special circumstance. Other confusions had held her longer." Pages 11-12
I found it interesting because at that point in the book the reader is really quite ignorant. Throughout the first eight chapters of the book we really know very little. We know that there's something different about Cora's relationship with her husband Alan. We know that Cora isn't afraid of a little bit of rebellion -- she was strongly in favor of women's suffrage -- but in other areas she's staunchly conservative.
Cora is not fond of change or anything that smacks of a lack of propriety. She's shocked by Louise's views on children, marriage and sexuality. She's similarly surprised by Myra's lack of concern for it. Even something as simple as the changing fashions that are making the corset obsolete are hard for Cora to accept. As Moriarty reveals Cora's childhood, her reactions make sense.
And yet we get this glimpse of a future Cora -- a Cora that is much less proper and willing to admit that there other ways. What causes that change? We'll just have to keep reading to find out.
What did you think of the first chapters of The Chaperone? What were your initial impressions of Cora and Louise?
Don't forget to join us again next week when we begin our discussions of Chapters 9-16!
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