Minerva’s Fox FAQ 2
1. Readers praise your descriptions of landscapes and gardens, descriptions that create pictures in the reader’s mind. Is this an example of writing “what you know”?
It is Malorie’s point of view that presents the gardens and landscapes we discover in Minerva’s Fox. Also, Malorie sometimes pays attention to things another person might not notice. She sketches garden and landscape elements that catch her eye and redesigns existing gardens, on paper, creating new sight lines and perspectives. This practice of hers connects deeply with her development from being a closed in (and closed off) person to being a person who learns to face life’s surprises. In the end, we only know what Malorie knows, which helps us to understand her development–as a person and as a designer.
2. When Malorie enters graduate school in 1969, she is twenty-two. The fractious sixties are drawing to a close. The assassinations, the Civil Rights movement, Viet Nam, Woodstock, Stonewall—it’s as if these contemporary events have barely touched her. Why?
Malorie is an only child who learns early in her life to conceal what goes on at home. Alan Ellsworth, her father, is an alcoholic; her mother, Lucie, cultivates an all-is-well appearance and makes sure Malorie does, as well. Malorie knows very little about what goes on in the world because she turns inward to protect herself. Her protective shell begins to crack when Lucie decides to divorce Alan. Even so, most of what Malorie knows about national or world affairs, for example, comes to her only indirectly.
3. At certain points, Malorie uses the word “plausible.” At the beginning of the first chapter when she and Jack meet, he describes a secret society’s use of fox carvings to identify the donors. Malorie thinks, “This at least sounded plausible. Too plausible?” Why so dubious?
Plausible means “believable, possible, conceivable,” in other words, not necessarily true, perhaps even intentionally untrue. That Malorie is dubious about Jack as well as his explanation stems from her confusion about academia and her misgivings about her decision to go to graduate school. That is, a newcomer to the academic world, she is uncertain of her place in it. This is why she interprets the fox’s regard as a warning; this is why she heeds the warning and keeps her guard up. Besides, at this point in the story–Malorie and Jack have only just met–why should Malorie take Jack at his word?