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Old 2nd Oct 2007, 22:06   #21
Ang
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

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Originally Posted by kirsty View Post
Just one thing though, and I've probably missed something blindingly obvious, but why was it called The Easter Parade?
I don't think it's obvious but I wonder if it has to do with the optimism they must have felt as a young couple, the perfect photo of them having been taken on the day. Any other guesses? Or did Kirsty and I both miss something blindingly obvious?
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Old 3rd Oct 2007, 1:33   #22
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

That's how I see it as well. These Yatesian characters, like Frank and April Wheeler, are all stuffed to the seams with false optimism that isn't based upon anything which they can concretely bring about. Take Pookie's excitement at the guest house residence for Sarah and Tony. Her romanticized notion of the estate is all consuming and casts a long shadow over Sarah's expectations of marriage. An even crueler metaphor might be the use of the particular holiday, Easter. The hope some feel at that season juxtaposed with what Yates shows full out as rot and decay. I don't see Yates as an overtly symbolic writer, and maybe it's just because someone else sketched it for me, but in this story there seems to be quite a bit. I'll be curious to see what others find relevant to the title.

Last edited by Beth; 3rd Oct 2007 at 12:44. Reason: twisted tropes
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Old 3rd Oct 2007, 7:26   #23
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

I haven't re-read this one yet but my brain suggests for me the phrase "turned out fine" when I think of "Easter Parade" (is it a line from a song?) and my thinking would be that people would dress up in their very best outfits and bonnets for Easter - they would put on a show of happiness and ease and everything being fine and dandy (my girls were always bought a new very posh dress for Easter by their grandma). Yet beneath the show - the sunshine and signs of new life and freshness, there's dullness and tor, as you say, and a wide margin between the appearance and the reality of repeatedly failing lives.

But I remember agreeing that the ending has more than a touch of hope: it was possibly the happiest note of positive sight that I've come across in a Yates
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Old 3rd Oct 2007, 7:58   #24
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

I think there was a tinge of hope at the end also, Peter, the kind soul, reaching out to Emily even after she tries to alienate him.

I did think it was a bit ambiguous though - was the abuse made up, or did Peter not see it, or did he blank it out? Did Sarah have black eyes, etc because she fell down drunk? In which case, why did she make up the abuse? Tony didn't seem to know what Emily was saying either, when she confronted him.
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Old 3rd Oct 2007, 8:57   #25
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

I didn't think the abuse was made up, and I thought Yates was effectively displaying his 'negative capability' in portraying Emily's ineffectual attempts to bring her brother-in-law to task. One of the most uncomfortable scenes for me was the telephone call when Sarah asks to come and stay with Emily, and Emily is reluctant because of her new relationship.

I would imagine there could be many reasons why Peter might not have a straightforward perspective on the abuse, having (presumably) grown up with it, and perhaps having been told the same versions of events as his parents told everyone else (I doubt it would have happened in front of him).
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Old 3rd Oct 2007, 12:31   #26
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

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Originally Posted by kirsty View Post
Just one thing though, and I've probably missed something blindingly obvious, but why was it called The Easter Parade?
The parade is a recurrent motif, from the first scene where during her courtship with Tony, Sarah’s employers lend her a beautiful Chinese-style dress to wear while mingling with the crowds, and Tony wears a suit and they are photographed looking ‘like the very soul of romance’ (27). Then Emily’s memories after Sarah’s death include, ‘Sarah at twenty, elegantly dressed in borrowed clothes and complaining that she didn’t care about the silly Easter parade’ (186) and finally, at Tony and Sarah’s home, ‘she passed a framed photograph, the picture of Tony and Sarah on Easter Sunday of 1941. it was hanging awry, as if from the impact of some heavy blow that had shuddered the wall. Carefully, with unsteady fingers, she reached up and straightened it’ (192)

That straightening is what Emily does; an aid to the sef-delusion that I think is her greatest flaw (and that I'm going to have something else to say about once I've got my thoughts in order).
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Old 7th Oct 2007, 15:31   #27
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

Kim, I'm wondering what your thoughts on Emily are, especially what you found to be her self-delusion. I found that too, but haven't fully worked it out. I've thought a little bit about the tinge of optimism towards the end and it feels as though any positive belongs solely to Peter. Peter is the person whose life has purpose and meaning. Even as a child, he knew what he wanted, he took the steps to make it happen, and his compassion gets a workout and is proved faithful in the car with his aunt Emily. While his parents may have paraded about at one time in finery, Peter gets to lead the real Easter parade by devoting his life to a cause greater than himself and by putting those principles in action towards his aunt. This turns the whole story around for me in a sense and shifts my sympathies somewhat. Emily and Sarah still command the story, but Peter, the rock, stands for me as a wonderment. Was Yates making a comment about Christianity, the practice versus Jesus, the simple man who met others at their point of need?

I keep thinking on a family photo of my younger sister and I on an Easter morning. We are hunting eggs and, just as the photo snapped, Gwen, about 3 at the time, pounced on an egg and revealed her ultra frilly underpants. Nothing to do with the novel per se, but the photo always brings a smile. Under all the frippery and finery, we're just little clay pouches that misbehave and misunderstand, mangle and malign. Jesus understood this, and even though I think he was a man who lived and died, I believe in the nature of undefended living that he perfectly espoused. And I'm finding a little bit of Christian ethos in The Easter Parade. Or is it merely Sunday?
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Old 8th Oct 2007, 15:57   #28
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

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And I'm finding a little bit of Christian ethos in The Easter Parade. Or is it merely Sunday?
Well, it wasn't titled The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade now was it?

I think that's a good observation. It's been a while since I read this, but like Col, I found this to be one of his least emotionally bleak novels.
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Old 8th Oct 2007, 16:17   #29
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

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Well, it wasn't titled The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade now was it?
Yep, for a book with a title including Easter, it took 2 weeks to sink in for this atheistic dingdong! Really got me wondering whether I read the whole thing improperly, guided by someone else's pencil marks. Plus, Emily and Sarah loom so largely and darkly. I'd love it if you could zip through it again, Oryx, and elaborate more. Dare we hope for something hopeful from Yates?
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Old 8th Oct 2007, 16:25   #30
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Default Re: Book 35: The Easter Parade by Richard Yates

I'd like to join in comments later, once I've got offline book group (and birthday) reads out of the way, but I certainly found it the most hopeful of the four I've read.
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