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 Discussion Point #3
captainjacksparrow
Posted: Jan 10 2007, 07:22 PM


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Originally Posted by Karen 26th May 2004

What Joanne Harris has to say about Vianne............

"Lastly I wanted to write about magic. Not the popular view, but
about the magic of everyday things and the way something quite
ordinary can, given the right circumstances, take on extraordinary
properties. Vianne's belief in the supernatural seems dangerous, even
sinister, to Reynaud. And yet it is her very human qualities - her
understanding and her kindness to others - which make her what she
is. She does nothing which could not be achieved by purely ordinary
means. Her magic, working as it does through simple pleasures, is
accessible to everyone. If she is a witch, as Reynaud believes, then
so is anyone else with similar values. We live in a world which is
becoming increasingly complicated around us; we are bombarded with
mixed messages and impossible targets from the media; like Reynaud we
have learned to demonize pleasure and to be afraid of our feelings.
Chocolat was my reaction against that; a plea for tolerance of others
but also of ourselves, a reminder that to be fallible is both natural
and allowed; that self-indulgence isn't always bad; that testing
people to destruction isn't the way to make them better people."



The priest Reynaud and Vianne seem to be such natural enemies from
the very first sighting of each other, and yet they both have
important things in common --- a past that haunts them and an
incredible desire for acceptance. How do you think this affects their
relationship?






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jeppody
Posted: Jan 17 2007, 01:10 PM


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SuzieboozieluvsJD


Now that I am over the shock of the question! LOL! My initial gut
reaction is similar to Karens post I just read that was from Joanne
Harris about Vianne, and how we accept people and the role the media
plays, etc.
At first meeting, Reynaud judges Vianne just by her outward
appearance, not who she is on the inside. This is exactly what
Vianne expects from the "black man", by her upbringing. They both
automatically go into defense mode, but I feel that Vianne really
tried to give him a chance as a person, even though he does not
deserve it. IMHO, Reynaud tries to hide who he was and is, behind
his title, his position in society, to gain his acceptance. For
whatever reason, he was not accepted as himself before he gained
societal status. So of course that makes him judge and juror, and he
tells other people who they can and can not accept. I think Vianne
has no clue as to who she really is because her whole existence has
been colored by her many travels, but I think she is trying to find
that out. She wants acceptance for who she is, whoever it may be.
She realizes she is not her mother, but it is a real struggle, as it
is for many of us. Don't we all at some time in our growing up say
we will never be like our parents, we will be better, but then
especially when we become parents, we are just like them?? I hear my
mother's voice coming out of my mouth all the time!





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jeppody
Posted: Jan 17 2007, 01:11 PM


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Shannon


I agree with Suz's thoughts about Reynaud hiding behind his position
to find acceptance. He doesn't have any authority within himself so
he uses the structure of the church and its built-in authority to
keep the people in the village "in line" and to make him feel that
his life has a point. Vianne's fear of the "black man's" authority
and control is repeated in Jacqueline's fear of her own black man,
her husband. Jacqueline's journey out of fear into freedom is one of
my favorite subplots in both book and movie. Harris cleverly shows
this by many of her actions. She moves from taking pretty things
from other people to creating pretty things for herself (the
chocolates), and also by the changes in her clothes.

I like the contrast of Roux and the black man. Harris paints Roux in
natural colors--red hair, green bandanna--and she gives him a trade
that makes something out of nothing--a builder. He creates, too.
He's not interested in controlling anyone. Even his choice of living
on a river gives him a life that in a way isn't controlled except by
the flow of the current.




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jeppody
Posted: Jan 17 2007, 01:11 PM


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Karen


I think they just recognize the same vulnerabilities in each
other ... the old "takes one to know one" theory. I think you tend
to stay clear of people when you see yourself, your weaknesses in
another person. Ans these are two really strong personalities who
are both, in their own ways, fragile AND strong. What say ya'll




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jeppody
Posted: Jan 17 2007, 01:12 PM


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Karen


QUOTE
I hear my mother's voice coming out of my mouth all the time!



Yes, I shudder when I do or say things that I saw my Mom do and swore
that I never would. I also think Vianne wanted a life, in one place
with Anouck, to give her daughter the sameness and stablity that she
lacked while growing up.







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jeppody
Posted: Jan 17 2007, 01:13 PM


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JP


I have to say that I feel Vianne is very comfortable with who she is. Her unsettled life has probably made her cautious and not willing to reveal a lot of her inner self to those she feels she will not be around for a long period of time. She does not like all the moving around, but it is in her nature to follow the voice of the wind (either because of her "mother" or because of her special talent). Not to give anything away, but if you read Harris' "Blackberry
Wine", you will have a little more insight as to what happens to Vianne, and I guess this colored my understanding of the character. I think that Vianne's discomfort arises from not wanting to intrude, yet wanting to help. The old internal conflict thing. This is enhanced by the priest's wanting to intrude because he thinks that is helping.

The priest, though, does not seem very comfortable with who he is. I think that his whole inner personality was defined by that one event in the church that is mentioned quite late in the book. This event has confused him so much that he is unable to understand the difference between right and wrong. Pleasure has become a sin in his eyes, and he darn well wants to make sure no one sins! Perhaps Vianne represents his mother to him, and the sins that she committed in
front of his eyes. He is unable to separate enjoyment of life from living life.

The two make a perfect protagonist and antagonist. Vianne, who is comfortable with living, and Reynaud, who is not. Armande, Josephine, Roux, Anouk, and the others help to exemplify the conflict, and, thankfully, its resolution of happiness for those we grew to care about while reading. Reynaud, however, runs away, which he has been doing almost all his life, even though he doesn't realize it.

Shannon, I love what you said about Roux. I think you have him beautifully defined as a character.




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jeppody
Posted: Jan 17 2007, 01:13 PM


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Helen


I didn't get the impression that Reynaud himself was very strong. His
position as cure was powerful, but he didn't use it to his fullest. If he did
there
wouldn't be a book/movie. Somewhere in the beginning of the book, I don't
remember if he is just thinking or talking to the old priest, he is talking
about the parishoners with contempt. The wifebeater with the clepto wife, etc.

If he were as strong as his position allowed these things wouldn't have had to
wait for Vianne. Had he a strong personality, Vianne's shop wouldn't have
lasted.

Vianne was equally fragile and strong.





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