Monday, March 05, 2007

Children of Men

Intrigued by this book tour and want to read more about Children of Men? Hop along to more stops on the Barren Bitches Book Tour by visiting the master list at Stirrup Queens (http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/). Want to come along for the next tour? Sign up begins today for tour #3 ( The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger) and all are welcome to join along. All you need is a book and blog.

1. In describing the world's "universal bereavement" over it's lack of children, the narrator tells us, "Only on tape and records to we now hear the voices of children, only on film or on television programmes do we see the bright, moving images of the young. Some find them unbearable to watch but most feed on them as they might a drug." How is this like your life dealing with infertility? How do you cope when you are confronted with images or reminders that are painful to you?

For me this was very much like dealing with life during IF. For starters the building I work in has a pre-school and at various times I would find myself irresistibly drawn there to "help out." At other times, just happening across the kids on their way to one activity or another would wreck me. No telling which it would be. I think the more interesting literary point throughout the book is what children represent -- even if their reality (the Omegas) may be quite different. In a weird coincidence I just read The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks about a town that experiences a horrific school bus accident and the consequences that follow. There is a line where a character muses about how a town can't live without its children -- but the line may be ironic, because, life for the town goes on nonetheless. Children are the vessels into which we pour so many hopes, some realistic and some of which are pipe dreams. But we can't live without hope can we? Even in-spite of our better judgment.

20. If the world that's described in the novel were to somehow become a reality, how would you live your life, knowing that there will be no future generations to carry humanity forward? What would you do differently, if at all?

I'd like to think I wouldn't do too much differently. It reminds me of those existentialist dramas like Camus' Caligula where the playwright tries to make the case that even when one realizes that life is meaningless it is necessary to resist cruel and unethical behavior. It is a difficult concept to wrap the brain around because how can behavior be ethical or unethical if being has no meaning? However, I'd probably do things that are a bit selfish and self-destructive -- smoke more, sleep less, drink like I was still in college and eat fried foods.

9. What are your thoughts on the scene with the lady pushing her pretend child or doll? What do you think about the response of the people who react to her?

I know a lot of people hate this scene and James' one-dimensional portrayal of childless women in-general. And I agree with much of the criticism. However, the one valid thing I believe was in these descriptions is my belief that for many people (not just women) the urge to nurture is irrepressible and will find an outlet in one way or another. What was more insightful to me was Theo's judgment of these women as a comment on his own empathic shortcomings.


4. Do you think this was based on James' own experiences with infertility? Also, what did you think of the fact that Julian was a religious person and became pregnant. Is religion her solution, as it were, to infertility? Which is probably two questions...

Not sure, but would be curious to find out. Writing the novel from the point of view of a male protagonist makes me think that if she did go through IF, that she's not put much of that experience in the novel. The second part sent me googling PD James and religion which revealed that she is a very religious person and says that it helps her deal with every aspect of her life. Does that mean she advocates membership in the Church of England (to which she belongs) as a cure for IF? I doubt it. Does it mean that she is a writer interested in faith and its real-world repercussions? Definitely.

3. One of the story's responses to mass infertility was that couples stopped having sex since there didn't seem to be any point in it. How has IF affected your sex life with your partner? Did you have different experiences at different times along the way?

The best summary of married sex life during IF comes from a wonderful writer named Marjorie Ingall (the Jewish Forward's East Village Mamele) who aptly coined the quest for her first child, "The Bataan Sex March." Nuf sed.

12 comments:

Carlynn said...

The question on Julian being a religious person really got me thinking. I originally thought it was an interesting point but I could not understand why P.D. James gave her this trait. I also googled P.D. James and found out that she was more religious than I had previously thought and this changed my response to the question but I do not think it is a judgement on people who have different beliefs. I am still grappling with the question. Julian has a deformed hand and is a Christian, this must be significant but how? I cannot put my finger on it.

spyderkl said...

Those were terrific responses! I tried to find out about whether or not James was infertile herself and got nothing. The dedication to Children of Men was interesting... "Again, to my daughters/ Claire and Jane/who helped".

I loved "The Bataan Sex March"! It's only funny because it's true...

The Town Criers said...

Fried foods and smoking! Sure, the world is going to end, but do you need to end your own life sooner :-) I'd probably stop recycling. And I'd make millions of bird seed feeders so the squirrels could still eat after we're gone. But you know how I feel about Herbert.

Melissa said...

I can totally relate to your answer to the first question when you said, "No telling which it would be." It's hard to have such different reaction to similar situations and really have no idea which reaction you'll have.

Tina said...

I really would love to know if she had an infertility issue or not - I am going to assume not since it was only a mere plotpoint for the book. It is interesting, though, how religious she is...

DaniGirl said...

Loved the answer to the last question!!

Jessica said...

I didn't realize she was so religious. That is pretty interesting, but maybe not surprising after having read the book.

Inglewood said...

Love your answers. Your comments on people's need to nurture gave me something to think about.

Ann said...

I can really relate to your experience with children while dealing with infertility. Your description of being both irresistibly drawn to them as well as wrecked when you saw them was something I felt as well.

sharah said...

If the world had no future, you would be in good company. Smoking, fried foods, and ice cream sounds good to me!

Cathleen said...

After reading the story, I didn't think that James herself ever experienced infertility. I think that your point about the story being written through the eyes of a male protagonist is very relevant. It gave James to opportunity to distance herself from the internal emotions and only comment as an observer.

And the Bataan Sex March...TOO FUNNY! And so true.

Christy J. said...

I like your concentration on James' religiosity, because I think it not only frames but also limits where the book goes.

I'm wondering about this "urge to nurture" and why that, for James, doesn't come in terms of caretaking of the older generation and of sending them off to the Quietus episodes. It seems like there would be more preservation of life all around if we were faced with the very threat to life and generations than the solution she offers here.

Interesting responses. Thanks.