As I flip through my copy of Green Grass Running Water every few pages there seems to be a post-it note. I am not too familiar with historical figures and writers, so each time a new name came up in the novel, I took a note of it and tried to look it up online. I found it like doing a search and find. I was given the name of the allusion and had to go look for what it was alluding to and why that person was important to Canada. It is a game that I am thoroughly enjoying.
As I first began to read this novel I was slightly confused with the way that the story was being told. I found it odd to have so many little stories lines that skipped around from not only person to person, but through different periods of time. It sort of reminded me of the movie ‘Valentine’s Day’ where there are multiple story lines that seem to be separate from each other but later show that there are aspects of each that connect them together.
As I was reading I noticed that there seemed to be an emphasis on mistakes and regrets throughout this novel. Lionel feels that he has made three mistakes that greatly altered his life, starting with his ill-conceived plot to get attention by having his tonsils out. His “one little slip” led to a chain reaction that causes him problem after problem. Lionel is a character that shows that the smallest things can change your life forever.
Norma says that it is best not to make mistakes with carpet (8) and Ishmael says it is best not to make mistakes with stories (14). This repetition leads me to believe that King finds mistakes to be an important aspect of not only the novel, but life in general. Even having Lionel admit that he has made mistakes has some importance. He could have said that he had some unfortunate event occur in his life, or that he has had bad luck, but instead he chooses to say ‘mistakes’. Lionel views his life as a list of mistakes that he has made rather than just a series of events that has led to the life he has today.
In the Bible Eve makes a ‘mistake’ that leads God to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. King changes this story. Instead being banished from the Garden of Eden, it is First Woman and Ahdamn who leave the garden on their own accord. Eating that apple was not a mistake to First Woman, but something that allowed to her realize that God is a “stingy person” (69) and showed her that she should leave. Both stories have a similar outcome*, Adam and Eve leaving the Garden, yet they are so different.
As I begin to reread Green Grass Running Water I begin to question the definition of mistake. Is a mistake something that you have done wrong as or is it something that you have done that causes you bad luck?
*Note: In link two the Satire of Adam and Eve I am referring to Act 1.