Time of The Ghost -- Spoilers, questions about the ending

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Mon Apr 2 17:41:28 EDT 2001

Liz wrote,

> I read Time of the Ghost last week, and found it very different to any other
> DWJ I've read so far. For one thing, it was scary! (Sorry, I scare easily; I
> decided to stop watching thrillers unless there was a really good reason for
> it after I saw Seven about six years ago.) The beginning was genuinely
> upsetting, when Sally didn't know who or where she was.

Thanks for this Liz I don't remember when we last got our teeth into 
this book. I think its terrifically good, but it is one of the hardest 
hitting without a doubt. Have you read the autobiography on the 
DWJ website, in that and in several interviews she says the family 
in this book is similar to her own -- except she left out some of the 
worst bits. Which makes   Time of the Ghost even more scary to 
my mind. 

> Several aspects of the end confused me, though, I think mostly 
to do with > the gifts that everyone gave Monigan. I'm going to 
apologise now if the > answers seem obvious to everyone else - I 
was speed-reading towards the end > because it was late, but I 
couldn't put the book down unfinished. >

 Monigan seems to me rather devious. By taking something that 
the gifts symbolised she took a lot more than anyone thought they 
were offering. And I think she stretched the symbolic 
interpretations as far as they would go. By putting her "place" 
among the prehistoric burial mounds DWJ has suggested that 
Monigan is an ancient and rather primitive force, and that she has a 
liking for sacrifice. And while she will take as much as she can of 
what  matters to people, in the end lives, especially human are 
what she wants. Monagan in fact behaves more like one of the 
fairies in British folklore, with their tricky bargains than a god.

> Firstly, *why* was Monigan after Sally? Was it because of the 
pact Sally and
> Julian had made with Monigan? Or was it something to do with the picture of
> Sally that Ned gave Monigan? (I'm thinking here of the idea of giving part
> of your soul away when you give something personal like that away.) Or both?

Julian is clearly a psychopath -- someone who doesn't even think 
its wrong to sacrifice whatever or whoever is in his way. As such he 
is Monagan's perfect worshipper. Sally is a neglected little girl. I 
think the religion of Monagan, which she believes she has made 
up, actually expresses something of the way she feels about her 
Mother. The Monagan is the destructive aspect of the Mother 
goddess -- the sow that eats her own young, as Robert Graves put 
it.  She must be placated even as she is feared and hated. Sally 
and the others do their best not to annoy their Mother -- which 
means not coming to her attention, unless things are absolutely 
desperate -- yet her plan to vanish and pretend to be dead is a very 
cruel thing to do to a parent. So Sally won't admit that there's 
anything wrong with their parents, invents the worship of an evil 
goddess, gets involved with the dubious Julian, and steals Fenella's 
friend in order to do her vanishing trick. I think that although Sally 
thought she was inventing the religion she was probably using local 
folklore and mythology so she came sufficienlty close to the real 
ancient goddess for her to rouse (rather as David accidentally frees 
Luke}. Then I think Monagan fed off Sally's unhappiness and 
Julian's greed in order to manifest and try and get as much out of 
them and their friends and family as she could.

Oops I've been thinking as I type and I haven't actually gotten 
around to answering the question. By carrying out the rituals 
(especially the hen) Julian and Sally gave the Monagan a hold over 
them -- in effect they owed her a life. I suppose by pretending to be 
dead Sally made herself the prime target.

> Ned obviously knew that Sally was in danger - or did he? The 
quote about her
> realising why he'd always been so ready to meet her for coffee - is this
> because he thinks he's endangered her by giving the picture to Monigan, or
> is it just supposed to mean that he's in love with her?
I think Ned was in love with Sally, this was how Monagan 
interpreted the picture.

> Next, Howard. Why, when Sally realises what he's given Monigan, does she
> shiver and think, that's why he's in Canada? Is it again because it's
> something personal, which gives Monigan power over him? Or is there more to
> it?

Howard was very patriotic, which was why he had the tiepin in the 
first place. Monaghan had it symboloise his love of britian anfd to 
take that away she had him exiled.
> Imogen - why exactly does she have to give something in order to release
> Sally? Because she's the only one who didn't give anything to begin with? Or
> does she make some pact with Monigan while she's caught in the storm? I know
> that what she does give is worth more (or is it?) than the gifts of the
> others, but most of the gifts are things that are important to the giver,
> and should therefore have worth.

Pass, I know that bit is difficult and I don't remember it well enough.
> What was the "terrible price" extracted from Lesley?

Um, was this the horsey girl Sally stayed with? She ended up in 
love with Ned, who didn't even put up with her as much as Sally put 
up with him. She then pestered him so much that she looked like a 
sad stalker. And both she and Ned lost out on the normal falling in 
and out of love with people that they would have been doing.   

I hope this helps Liz, I've put TOG on my to read soon list anyway.


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