Playing Beatie Bow

by

Ruth Park

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Playing Beatie Bow: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A few days after Abigail’s return, Kathy brings Weyland home for dinner. He greets his daughter as “Lynnie” and embraces her. Abigail embraces him right back, and as she does, remembers being wrapped in Judah’s arms. Abigail stops herself from crying, though, telling herself that she is about to embark on a whole new life, and soon the world of Beatie Bow will be a distant memory. Abigail apologizes for being such a “dope” to her father, and Kathy leaves the two of them alone to catch up.
Abigail has held off connection to and love for her father for so long that when she finally embraces it, she is overwhelmed by it. She learned to accept the power of love through Judah, and so as she finally yields to love, it is Judah she remembers, but the memory is nearly too much for her to bear, and she again hedges towards old patterns of forgetting and disconnecting.
Themes
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Time and the Past Theme Icon
Weyland tells Abigail all about Norway, and she admits that she is excited for a new adventure. He tries to explain about his mistress, but Abigail cuts him off, telling him that she understands. Together, over dinner, the family decides that Abigail will complete one more term of school while Kathy ties up her loose ends at the shop, and the two prepare themselves for a long Norwegian winter.
As she reconnects with her father and forgives him of his guilt, Abigail demonstrates the wisdom she has accrued through her journey to the past, and the transformative and powerful experience of love she encountered there.
Themes
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Time and the Past Theme Icon
The Wisdom and Power of Children  Theme Icon
Abigail’s long years of keeping her feelings to herself prove useful during this time—she knows that neither her mother nor her father has any clue as to what is really going on inside of her. Abigail feels that the empty place inside of her has grown desolate.
Abigail yet again reverts to old patterns of keeping herself at arm’s length from those who love her, and as a result, the empty place inside expands.
Themes
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Abigail still takes Natalie and Vincent to the playground sometimes, but the children have given up playing Beatie Bow, and now play something else. Natalie wistfully tells Abigail that she never sees the “little furry girl” anymore. Abigail tells Natalie that the little girl is probably home, brushing her hair and hoping it will grow in time for her brother’s wedding. Natalie laughs, delighted by the story she believes Abigail is making up. She asks Abigail to continue it, but Abigail refuses, having made herself sad with thoughts of the Bows—she realizes that she is homesick not just for Judah, but for all of them.
Just as at the beginning of the novel, Abigail seeks connection with the Crown children when connection with her own family is too hard. Being with the Crowns, though, just stirs up painful and unwanted memories of the Bows, and forces Abigail to think about what the Bows are doing—or, rather, did—without her in their lives.
Themes
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Time and the Past Theme Icon
The Wisdom and Power of Children  Theme Icon
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Abigail is determined to find out what became of all the Bows, and she wants to do so before she leaves Australia, so that she can think of them when she is in Norway. Though she knows looking up the Bows is like rubbing salt in an old wound, she heads to the Public Library’s newspaper rooms and asks for files dating back to 1873 and 1874. Uncertain of what she is looking for, she flips through the papers, hoping for any sign. As she flips blithely through the ads and small announcements, she is taken aback by an article describing the sinking of a ship called The Brothers on the fourth of February, 1874. She realizes with a horrible feeling that The Brothers was the name of Judah’s ship.
Rather than cut herself off from thoughts of the Bows, Abigail decides to lean into her desire for more knowledge of them, and thus a deeper connection to them. What she finds, however, shakes her to her core—she realizes that Judah, her beloved, perished just months after she left the Bows behind. Abigail is now in possession of a new kind of wisdom, and perhaps, if she can make it back to the past in time, a special kind of power.
Themes
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Time and the Past Theme Icon
The Wisdom and Power of Children  Theme Icon
Abigail walks home in a daze, feeling as if her body is moving without her mind’s control or consent. She reaches into her dresser drawer and pulls out the crochet. She speaks aloud to Granny, begging her to warn Judah. The crochet is very damaged, though, and as she tries to call to Granny, she fears she will have no success—until the room begins to ripple, and she realizes she has been suspended somewhere between Mitchell and the Rocks, as if in a dream. She sees Beatie, Granny, and Samuel walking through the street in their best clothes, with Judah and Dovey close behind—they have clearly just been married. She calls to the Bows, but they cannot hear her. Judah looks in Abigail’s direction, but seems to see right through her.
Abigail is grateful to have not burned the crochet, as she realizes that it is her only and final chance to connect with the Bows and perhaps warn them of the tragedy that is to come their way. When Abigail glimpses the past, however, she sees that the Bows are caught up in their joy, and is again positioned as an outsider not even on the periphery of their vision or thoughts. Abigail is obscure to them—she has been swallowed by the future, when she feared it was the Bows who had been swallowed by the past.
Themes
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Time and the Past Theme Icon
The Wisdom and Power of Children  Theme Icon
The scene begins to lose its color and fade. Abigail sees Granny look around searchingly for a moment, as if she has heard something, but it is too late—Abigail is back in her own time, and the crochet is threads in her hands. Abigail attempts to comfort herself by telling herself that perhaps Judah did not ship out on The Brothers on its fateful, final voyage, but cannot convince herself of this fully. Once again, in her head, she bids Judah good-bye.
Abigail has attempted to make one final connection with the world she left behind, but it is an unsuccessful one. To symbolize the termination of her physical connection to the world of the Bows, the crochet has turned to nothing in the palms of her hands, leaving her with only her memories.
Themes
Family, Duty, and Connection Theme Icon
The Transformative Power of Love Theme Icon
Time and the Past Theme Icon