Crow Lake

by Mary Lawson

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Provide three examples of guilt in Crow Lake.

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Examples of guilt in Crow Lake include Kate's guilt that she is able to study zoology, while her brother Matt is not. The children's Aunt Annie feels guilty for not being able to take care of them enough after their parents' death. Luke also feels responsible for his parents' car accident, because they were buying him a suitcase to take to college when they were killed.

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Crow Lake tells the story of the Morrison siblings—Luke, Matt, Kate, and Bo—after the death of their parents in a car accident. Luke and Matt are teenagers at the time of the accident, while Kate is seven and Bo just a toddler.

Feelings of guilt are a major theme in...

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this touching novel, as would only be natural in the aftermath of such familytragedy.

For starters, Kate ends up feeling incredibly guilty later in life that she is able to pursue her passion for zoology, while her brother Matt, who shared this passion, does not.

Luke suffers from immense guilt relating to the car accident that killed their parents. The family had been celebrating his acceptance to college, and his parents had decided that he needed a new suitcase to take with him. It was on their ill-fated journey to get the suitcase that they were killed, as the result of a truck's brakes failing. Luke therefore mistakenly rationalizes that their deaths were his fault.

Members of the extended family, such as the children's paternal aunt, also experience feelings of guilt. The source of her guilty feelings is the belief that she was not able to do enough for the siblings in the aftermath of their parents' death.

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Guilt is a powerful force in Mary Lawson’s novel. Because the Morrison children’s parents are both killed, the siblings’ former, relatively equal relationship is thrown out of balance. The oldest children have to assume parental-type responsibility for the younger ones, and their often strong feelings of inadequacy include severe guilt. Among the older brothers, Luke does not accept the idea that Matt should be confined to the farm and financial responsibility, while he gains an unfair benefit of attending college. Yet Luke’s guilt is not straightforward, as he knows that their parents had wanted that advantage for him—in the same way his father had been rewarded with education. His guilt is also tied up with the fact that when they died, their parents were headed off to buy the suitcase he would need for the move to college. A further complication is his sense of betraying them by not fulfilling their desires.

Because Kate is younger, having only been seven when the accident took her parents, her brothers do fill the parental role, and she does take advantage of the opportunity for education. Her guilt seesaws between her feelings about her home, to which she remains emotionally attached, and her love for Daniel, the zoology professor with whom she becomes involved. She wants him to understand her heritage, but hesitates to take him home out of concern that his scientist eyes will regard her relatives like specimens.

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Written by Canadian writer Mary Lawson, Crow Lake is a novel about four children, Luke, Matt, Katie, and Bo Morrison, whose parents are killed suddenly in a car accident. Following the accident Luke, the eldest child, makes the selfless decision to care for his younger brother and sisters. Guilt is one of the most significant themes within the book—and it appears frequently throughout.

The first example of guilt which you could explore further is the guilt felt by Katie. Katie feels guilty for not helping the Pye children who lived on a neighboring farm. The Pye children were verbally and physically abused by their father, Calvin, and fourteen-year-old Laurie Pye was eventually killed by him. Calvin kills himself before the police are able to arrest him.

Another example of guilt is that felt by Annie, the paternal aunt of the Morrison children. Auntie Annie feels guilty as she doesn’t feel that she is doing enough to help the children following the death of their parents. When Luke says that he will forego teacher’s college and look after his younger siblings himself, Auntie Annie again feels guilty as she isn’t able to help them financially.

My final example of guilt is again felt by Katie Morrison. Katie was very close to her older brother Matt, partly down to their shared interest in zoology, and she feels very guilty that she has been able to further her education and he couldn’t. It is this guilt that causes the separation between Katie and her siblings.

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Mary Lawson's 2002 novel Crow Lake explores the aftermath of four children of varying ages being orphaned by the death of their parents. Guilt and responsibility are prominent themes in the novel, especially as it relates to the young protagonist, Kate, and her older brothers, Matt and Luke.

Despite offers from different family members to care for the children, Matt and Luke decide to alter their life plans so that the children can all stay together. This includes Luke deciding to forgo his plans to go to college so that he can work and help in raising Kate and Bo. Luke's sacrifice suggests a massive amount of responsibility placed on him as the oldest sibling, as his guilt at leaving his brother and sisters prevents him from attending college.

A major way that guilt is presented in this novel concerns opportunity and accepting opportunities. While Kate has been able to pursue an education in her chosen field, her brothers were unwilling or unable to pursue theirs. This results in Kate feeling guilty for her own achievements. Analyzing how Matt and Luke are affected by their own rejections and losses of opportunity would be helpful here.

As perhaps the final example of guilt in the novel, Kate realizes that her tragic perception of Matt and his life is largely constructed by her childhood psychological reactions and guilt. She sees that she doesn't have to harbor these painful feelings about her brother anymore and that doing so would only prevent the mending of their relationship.

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