14 Replies Latest reply on 29-Jan-2017 4:02 PM by vchetcuti

    Discussion #3: Seven Matches

    teachontario.team

      Before Reading This Section:

      • I was reminded of the story “The Little Match Girl” in this section. How can matches portray hope and hopelessness simultaneously? Are there other stories or historical examples that include matches?

       

      After Reading This Section:

      • The way time passes is portrayed potently in the two page spread (4th and 5th page of this section). Choose one element from this page to explain how time passes and how it works in conjunction with the other elements.
        • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
          stratis

          Before Reading This Section:

          • I was reminded of the story “The Little Match Girl” in this section. How can matches portray hope and hopelessness simultaneously? Are there other stories or historical examples that include matches?

          Unfortunately,  I don't know the story of the little match girl.  But if I would to take a guess, I would think that carrying the match would provide a sense of hope and only when necessary and for certain outcome should the match be lit.

           

          After Reading This Section:

          • The way time passes is portrayed potently in the two page spread (4th and 5th page of this section). Choose one element from this page to explain how time passes and how it works in conjunction with the other elements.

          Time passes with by showing the opposites of day and night in the fence panel (reading other posts I see now that it is the rail tracks -!!! of course). It works in opposition to the other sections of the panels because our eyes are not going linear anymore  they are following a zig zag path of the matches, even though we know the ending... we still take the path.

          • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
            noproblem

            Matches symbolize both hope and hopelessness because they provide light and heat, but with nothing for them to catch a fire to, the light and heat is momentary. Matches are a tool for starting a longer-lasting fire but, again, on their own they are fleeting (even the first that they can start will always end). We know that when we light a match we have only a few seconds until that match burns out - in these ways I see both hope and hopelessness in the seven matches that Chanie had.

             

            As an aside, I feel that the "chick, chick, chick, chick" of the matches also provided hope for Chanie as a comforting connection to other people as he walked alone. Shaking his jar of matches could have reminded him that someone gave those matches to him and in this way he might have felt just a little less lonely.

             

            To me, watching the jar as it goes from 7 matches down to just one is a powerful way to notice the passage of time. Each time I see another lit match, I can hear the sound of the match lighting. I find myself counting down from jar to lit match back to jar. When there is no lit match, we see Chanie shivering in the panel. I feel like these elements all work together to show the short-lived options for Chanie - he could be warm in spurts (perhaps for a while each day/night if he could start a fire) but then he had to shiver and endure the cold until he just had to light another match - always closer to an empty jar - always closer to hopelessness.

            • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
              gailterry

              Before Reading This Section:

              • I was reminded of the story “The Little Match Girl” in this section. How can matches portray hope and hopelessness simultaneously? Are there other stories or historical examples that include matches?

              Matches portray hope in that once lit soon there will be warmth, but should the fire not catch it could be all for nothing and the cold  and darkness sets in again .

               

              After Reading This Section:

              • The way time passes is portrayed potently in the two page spread (4th and 5th page of this section). Choose one element from this page to explain how time passes and how it works in conjunction with the other elements.

              It took me a while to figure out that the panels were fitted within the railroad tracks because I was initially focusing on the match jar and the loss of a match with each panel in the pages.   I had first read the book before I listened to the cd.  I was driving the first time I heard the cd and that song brought these panels to life for me.  It made me think of how scared this little boy must of been and the sense of hope he had knowing he had 7 matches and they would get him home but how with the lighting of each match and the passing along the railway tracks it took him closer to home yet the feeling of hopelessness as each got closer and closer to the last match.  He tried so hard, he was so brave, he was so determined, he must have been so scared and it breaks my heart to think of what he  and all of the other children stolen from their families, had to endure.  When I read this book I think of my own beautiful children, and my love for them. I think of Chanie's family and their love for him.  I am so humbled they have chosen to share their story to help all of us better understand our role in reconciliation.

               

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              • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                daylaur

                How can matches portray hope and hopelessness simultaneously? Are there other stories or historical examples that include matches?

                I think matches portray hope because they contain a promise of warmth and light. At the same time portray hopelessness because that warmth and light is fleeting without something to burn, and once it's been used up the match is gone forever.  The only story that comes to mind right now - and it's probably only because I watched the movie recently with my kids - is the Jungle Book, and the significance that fire played in separating man from the rest of the animal kingdom. 

                 

                The way time passes is portrayed potently in the two page spread (4th and 5th page of this section). Choose one element from this page to explain how time passes and how it works in conjunction with the other elements.

                The element on these pages that represents how time passes for me is the matchstick jar, and how the number of matches continues to decrease by one until there are none left.  I imagine that each match represents a night, which works with the image of the lit match against darkness. I find these pages very powerful.

                • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                  sevenfold

                  Matches give hope that some of our most basic human needs - warmth and safety (thinking of Maslow's Hierarchy) - will be met. At the same time, they are a consumable and so there is a time limit on that hope.

                  I can't think of any historical stories with matches (besides The Little Match Girl), but what comes to mind is survival accounts of people lost in the woods. A match (and dry tinder and wood) means not only warmth and safety, but also light, the means to cook food and boil water, and a way to signal for help. In this situation, matches are like riches.

                  The match "countdown" in the story very effectively portrays the passage of time - a day per match. As the match supply dwindles, we see Chanie's posture become more stooped, as though a little hope is lost with each spent match.

                  It's sad and horrifying to think of a 12 year old going through this.

                  • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                    carolyng

                    Matches offer the means to produce heat and light. Without fuel to keep the fire burning the potential is wasted. I am reminded of Jack London’s short story, To Build a Fire. This is not a happy story, ending much the same way as Secret Path. In the case of London’s story, however, the main character ventured out in the cold because he ignored the advice of people who had more experience living in that climate. His pride was his downfall. Chanie saw flight as the only option.

                    The passage of time is marked by an expanse of train tracks; images of the glass jar that count down the matches remaining; the image of the lit match that represents each fire, alternating with images of Chanie as he struggled along, ultimately falling in the final image, signaling the end of his matches and his journey. To me, these pages show a stylized number line, increments of time demarcated by the rail road ties, that depicts the terrible reality of the journey with time and hope dwindling as the matches run out.

                    • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                      srosekat

                      How can matches portray hope and hopelessness simultaneously? Are there other stories or historical examples that include matches?

                      To me, the matches portray hope since they provide hope for the journey - for survival. They portray hopelessness as they are a frail link to survival - small, easily damaged or lost, quickly used and not always guaranteed to have results. I recall reading the Little Match Girl as a child and it always remained strongly in my memory for its sadness and despair.

                       

                      Choose one element from this page to explain how time passes and how it works in conjunction with the other elements.

                      The count-down of matches was the first thing that caught my eye and the worry it inspires as they dwindle is heightened by the depiction of Chanie's physical and emotional change as he becomes more stooped and shivering.

                      • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                        jennmacbrown

                        Before Reading This Section:

                        • I was reminded of the story “The Little Match Girl” in this section. How can matches portray hope and hopelessness simultaneously? Are there other stories or historical examples that include matches?

                         

                        I think "The Little Match Girl"  makes a great connection.  I found this section of the book particularly painful.  The idea that he had been given this tiny jar of matches to help him survive the brutal elements and terrifying journey is overwhelmingly heart breaking.  He, and the children like him, needed human support and protection from the systemic atrocities of the Canadian government.  While I try not to judge the family that could not offer him this safe-haven I just feel nauseous at the thought of sending a child off with such a meagre resource.

                         

                        I did not automatically think of another literary connection but I did find the image of light and dark connected to a variety cultures and faiths. Thinking of all of the faith-based celebrations that have a festival of light element to them, I could not help but reflect on the fleeting hope that this young boy must feel each time he lights a match and watches it succumb to the darkness.

                         

                        After Reading This Section:

                        • The way time passes is portrayed potently in the two page spread (4th and 5th page of this section). Choose one element from this page to explain how time passes and how it works in conjunction with the other elements.

                         

                        I saw these two pages a as timeline or time-lapse tool the first time I read it. The train tracks serve such a dual purpose in both the path Chanie travels and the linear passage of time.   Two elements really struck me as completely interconnected so I just cannot separate them.  The slow emptying of the jar as each match gets lit only to fizzle out and the progressively weakened body language in Chanie' s posture, breathing and shaking.  Amazing that all of this is represented without words and in what seem to be very simple drawings.

                          • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                            dianamali

                            Thank you so much everyone for sharing your thoughts so far on this third section, "Seven Matches". For those only now reaching this discussion area, here's a synopsis of the insights so far. (Please add yours to the collection!)

                             

                            The matches play a dual purpose of being a symbol of hope and hopelessness. The positive aspects are their role as providers of light and heat, warmth, a promise, safety, fuel, good stock for the journey, and big potential. The negative aspects are how momentary the blessings are, how it grows cold quickly, its fleeting nature - used, consumed, wasted, frail, and small temporary results. In addition to the Hans Christian Andersen tale of "The Little Match Girl", Carolyn referred to the Jack London short story, "To Build A Fire". Laurie mentioned the Jungle Book. Jane talked about tales of survival in the woods and Jennifer described the various traditions and celebrations with light and dark as important elements.

                             

                            I re-read this section (this book makes it "easy" to return to it, although the content is far from easy). I noticed how time jumps around a lot on the other pages. It begins with Chanie examining his final match, then jumps back to when the woman gives him the jar of matches near the start of his journey, and then back to the moment just before his lights his last match. Many readers here in the Teach Ontario virtual book group were drawn to that jar with his dwindling supplies. Janet was the first to note the wooden ties are from the railroad tracks that Chanie is walking. Jane, Sandra, and Jen pointed out how Chanie's body language changes with time; he becomes more stooped and weary as the cold eats away at him. Carolyn described it as a stylized number line and Jenn's analogy is of a time lapse. Regardless of which element grabs you hardest, the combined elements are extremely effective. Emile and Colinda even drew other senses into the picture, with the sounds of the matches in the glass jar and the smell of the burning wood. This is a countdown we dread and don't want Chanie to have.

                             

                            Diana

                          • Re: Discussion #3: Seven Matches
                            vchetcuti

                            Before reading:

                            Here I repeat what everyone else has been saying. The matches seem to represent a sense of hope, perhaps even survival. I can also see the idea of companionship in the sound, a small feeling of not being alone.

                            After reading:

                            For me, the first element that catches my eye is the track. It moves the eye of the reader along the rest of the story where we see more examples of this time progression. Seeing Chanie's weakening posture, to me, is the saddest part of this movement of time.