"The Chaperone" Chapters 9-16: The Window of the Future
By Karen Ballum on July 26, 2012
Well, chapters 8-16 of Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone were certainly full of surprises! We've reached a point where there's no doubt the book is about Cora, and yet I find the scenes of Cora and Louise together the most illuminating. When we get glimpses of Cora in the future, it becomes clear that Louise had a tremendous impact on Cora's life.
"She would owe this understanding to her time in New York, and even more to Louise. That's what spending time the young can do -- it's the big payoff for all the pain. The young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag you, as you protest and scold and try to pull away, right up to the window of the future, and even push you through." Page. 157
When Cora and Louise go to the New Amsterdam Theatre to see The Ziegfeld Follies they have a conversation about acting. Cora thinks that everything on stage is just and act and Louise gets frustrated with her. As I read through the next few chapters I thought of that scene often, as it become clear just how much of Cora's life is an act. Yes, we finally find out exactly what is going on in her marriage. I was surprised. I'm not sure what I expected the story to be with her Cora and Alan but it wasn't that. (I'm trying not to spoil too much here.)
I like the quote above for many reasons, but also because a bit further on in the story -- after Louise has left on tour with the dance company and Cora's found out about her past -- Cora questions her unhappiness. She's been unhappy for a long time and she had always blamed not knowing her own history for that unhappiness. She thought that finding things out would change things. When it didn't she felt lost and dismayed at the thought of going back to old life. I think she's done acting, or at least done acting when it's not done on her terms.
Could that have something to do with her new friend Joseph Schmidt? He helped her find her past, maybe he's also part of her window to the future. We'll be back next week to discuss what happens after Cora throws the rocks at Joseph's window!
Did your opinion of Cora or Louise change in this section of the novel?
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