The Mistakes That We Make

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.

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3 thoughts on “The Mistakes That We Make

  1. saintweasel says:

    I also noticed the mistakes motifs, and felt rather riveted by them. I think Lionel’s mistakes partly reveals what society considers mistakes, successes, and failures.

    Lionel’s lot in life is somewhat contrasted with Eli’s. Though Eli used to be a professor, had a stable wife (while she lived *sniffs*) whom I presume he loved and who loves him, and also has a stable sense of purpose (stubbornly over-looking the cabin), he avoided his “relations” for many years, lost his wife and her only wish, and ultimately, the cabin. Naturally the end of the novel offers Eli redemption by having a new cabin built, but you can see where he himself will have many regrets – which interestingly enough aren’t so much voiced, but shown, throughout the novel.

    What makes Lionel not as much of a failure as we might think he is includes the fact that he does seem to care about the people around him and those people care about him. He’s also able to appreciate a niche area of knowledge in the television business which only he and Billy Bursum can share. Lionel isn’t so much fighting with an Indian lawyer so much as with his own will to act, and with the expectations everyone around him has.

    Overall, I really liked both Eli and Lionel. Hm, you can spell Eli and “Lone” with Lionel. *stops typing*

  2. Nice link to the Bare Naked Ladies: one little slip. Yes, King is most defiantly suggesting that there has been a lot of MISTAKES made! – but, we can always start over … While I most confess I am not too sure about this idea of a ‘Deistic Take’ …. What #@*)! Is this? I ask myself. Maybe I just didn’t read your link close enough – I suspect you are being funny: am I right?

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