Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Spirit in Goody Prymm



As I type the manuscript, tweaking and editing, so many details come back. I have decided to periodically write in The Bonnie White Hare Blog some annotative notes and comments regarding A Year and a Day in the Life of Goody Imagination Prymm. Why? Because it crystallizes my thoughts and is preparing me for the queries I will be writing as I seek publication. Also, although the story is, I believe, essentially a good one and a pleasant read, I want readers to know that there is so much more to discover in the reading of Goody Prymm!

This post today is directed to the idea of Spirit. Spirit, in fact, is the overriding element of this novella. The idea of Animism is prevalent throughout, Animism being simply defined as the belief that everything---creatures, places, even objects and words---all possess a distinct spiritual essence, that animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather, handmade objects are animated, alive in their own right, and intertwine with the characters in their daily lives. Animism is the oldest known belief system, even predating paganism, and much of Goody Prymm is about belief systems: the Puritans, the early settlers, the Indians, the phases of the moon, animals as spirit guides.  You didn't know that, did you? Or perhaps some of you did. The word Animism comes from the Latin, meaning "breath," "spirit," "life." Goody Prymm is all about honoring life, in all its forms. She especially makes this very clear to Remember in the last days of her life, almost urgently so.

This morning, in typing the chapter "An Education," in which Goody Prymm and Remember are just beginning to know one another, they trek into the woods, Goody Prymm's intention being to begin teaching the young girl the knowledge she wants to pass on.  What better place for the two of them to start than in the deep woods, away from the constraints of civilization? Remember has never been so far into the woods, but Goody Prymm finds more solace there than in community, and visits there frequently. Now old age and youth venture together, each drawing on the strengths of the other. While in the woods, Remember pauses to hold a snail on her slender finger, marveling at the creature. Did you know that the snail is a symbol of life spiraling out and expanding? It is a symbol of growth, something that both of them are on the precipice of. And then, as Goody Prymm is teaching Remember how to "go within" her essential self, they both open their eyes to find a wolf sitting there in front of them, its "feral amber eyes" staring into theirs. This is the second time in the story that the wolf appears, the first time appearing to Goody Prymm alone, as she has a dark vision by the deep pool in the woods. The wolf is Spirit, pure Spirit. It is a symbol of guardianship, loyalty, and spirit, all of which Goody Prymm will be for Remember as the story unfolds. And it is no literary coincidence that the Indians refer to Goody Prymm as having great "Manitou," or spiritual energy.  Nor is it an accident that we later learn through Goody Prymm's hidden journals that the very ship she sailed over to the New England from the Old England was the ship called Spirit!

The raven, the deep pool, why, even the great stones in the woods (Goody Prymm and Remember "sat still as stones" when they saw the wolf there in front of them!) have life and meaning in the story.
Perhaps I will publish a chapter or two here and there for you to reread, or read for the first time, only with new eyes.  What will you find? I hope you will find much more than what is written on the page...

© 2017 Nancy Duncan

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