At Play: Chapter 16

19 Mar

This is a grim chapter, the one in which Billy dies. My urge, as I read and reread, is to assign blame for Billy’s death. To God, Hazel, Quarrier. Is it anyone’s fault? Everyone’s fault? Anyone thoughts?

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56 Responses to “At Play: Chapter 16”

  1. nicklevato March 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    The person at fault is Peter Mathiessen. He designed his characters are very limited to what they can do, and it was from the beginning (especially per hazel’s worry) that Billy was implicitly going to die. I feel that was Billy’s contribution to the book, and he was only there to serve that function. I mean, seriously, who takes a 9 year old child to a jungle with wild, savage indians? Someone who designs a character to die.

    • Kel Daniels March 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      Sure, but to blame the author is like blaming God. Without conflict, we have no story. Without death, we have no appreciation for life. Not that writers are like gods. Far from it.

      • nicklevato March 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

        what i meant here was to say that we shouldn’t blame other characters; his death wasn’t for that purpose. The function is to dive deeper into the character’s emotions whom are effected. We should pull away from fault, and look at the consequences of the death. I believe that to be the reason Billy was put to death by Mathiessen.

        • jasen Hengst March 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

          Yeah, it really brings to the surface Quarrier’s and Hazel’s relationship. Now there is open distaste for each other, not just a hint of it. At least from Hazel’s perspective.

  2. kyleemc2010 March 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I don’t necessarily think that blame can be necessarily placed on one individual. It could be viewed as Quarrier’s fault for bringing his young child into the wild jungles of South America to begin with– leaving him vulnerable to the filth and diseases that inhabit them. Or, on a more short term basis, it could be seen as Hazel’s fault. Due to her hatred towards the indians, she failed to try their potion in an effort to save her son. Rather than taking the chance to help save Billy, she let her ignorance contribute to his death.

  3. shannonzwicky March 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I feel that the death of Billy Quarrier was mostly his parents fault simply for bringing there young son to a disease ridden part of the jungle in which any sickness could mean death. The parents should have lined up some sort of living arrangement with grandparents or close friends while they were gone, this would have been the safest option for the child due to the various dangers of the area.

    • aarontrost March 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      I agree with you shannonzwicky. If Martin and Hazel would have kept there son at home, then Billy might not have died in this place.

      • hresan42 March 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

        You can’t protect your children from everything. It was a grand adventure in Billy’s mind, and despite all the hardships he thoroughly enjoyed himself and assimilated quite well. Yes, it’s a shame that he died so young, but not everyone needs to live to 80. If he was happy with his life, is it really such a crime that he diesd living it the way he wanted to?

        • nicklevato March 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

          I agree, his death was terrible but at the very least, he enjoyed the Niaruna. He became fluent in their language-and being able to speak another language fluently is a marvel in itself-made best friends, and became a cherished piece of a savage culture. I think he is pretty well accomplished for a young kid, and should be remembered that way. If he didn’t die, I don’t see the reader walking away with as much as we do because he died.

      • kristensteckbar10 March 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        Very true hresan41. Billy had the adventure of his life, literally, with his parents. He got to experience so many things and, despite actually dying, he ended on a happy note. He made friends within the tribe who were there til the very end. Even when he was talking to his father and to his friend, he was calm. His question about God didn’t seem too angry, he was just curious about why things happen the way he did.

        • angelaledford10 March 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

          Yes he was on the adventure of his life with his parents but he was a 9 year old kid that died for a bad reason. His parents both held their pride over the safety of their son. The father denying trying to get him out of the jungle and his mother to proud to accept the indians remedy. I believe he was lucky to be on such an adventure but there comes a time when a parent needs to be a parent and think about their children.

  4. aarontrost March 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    When I was reading this chapter, I was thinking that God was at blame. When Billy was talking, he asked his father why did God make have to make mosquitoes. When he asked this, it made me start to think that God was at fault or was his enemy because he created it and the mosquito was the thing that killed him. I think that Quarrier didn’t want to tell the Niaruna that God could have been at fault, but I can also see Martin being the one who killed his own son. He was the one that brought them to this land, and didn’t leave him and his wife at home. If Quarrier never would have brought his family, then he son might not have died at a young age.

  5. Kel Daniels March 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    What about Hazel refusing the Niaruna medicine?

    • kristensteckbar10 March 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

      I took that as just consistency with her disgust and distrust in the native way of life. But irregardless, her refusing possible treatment, regardless of where it came from, does also put some of the “blame” on her. Who knows, maybe that medicine would’ve saved Billy’s life…

    • kyleemc2010 March 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      I definitely took note of that when reading this chapter. It’s so frustrating to see her ignorance potentially be the reason that her son dies.

    • jasen Hengst March 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      She’s stubborn and wants to put blame on Quarrier, it seemed even at the expense of her son. She wanted to take Billy away and get medical attention, and that was it. No other option.

      • jasen Hengst March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

        I am not totally sure of this right now, but at some point in the book doesn’t Quarrier tell her she can leave with Billy? But she says no and tells Quarrier whatever happens it will be on him.

    • stuartgaulke March 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

      I think Hazel overall has such a poor view on all things that go on within this jungle that she doesn’t trust anything that the natives do or say. Every since she stepped off the plane she has had this negative view, and for this reason she will not let Billy try out the Niaruna medicine

    • aarontrost March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Since Hazel refused to give Billy the medicine, I think she has some blame to this as well. The Niaruna probably had more knowledge of the sicknesses out in the jungle because they have grown with them. And I also agree with kristensteckbar10 about Hazel refusing the drugs because she doesn’t like the Niaruna.

    • meghanbradley10 March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      I just can’t believe she can be so ignorant about everything pertaining to the Niaruna. This is isn’t the first time they’ve lived in a jungle; I think they can be trusted to some extent and certainly when it comes to natural medicine.

      • bLoGsOhArd March 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

        I dont agree with that. If I was in Martin’s spot I would keep my head on a swivel and trust no one. Those indians are down right savages and I personally would have came more prepared with equipment and medicine in the first place

      • cadams177 March 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

        true, but cant you feel any sympathy at all for her character? She didnt want her son to die, and she only refused the medecine out of fear. Its an easy call from our perspective, but mothers usually stop thinking rationally when their children are in danger, and I think we have to understand the turmoil she is going through before we judge her too harshly.

        …but it is kind of her fault

    • shannonzwicky March 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      I took it as a religious thing, which was hypocritical of Hazel because here she is trying to convert them to her ways and she see’s most everything the indians do as sinful and disgusting. But then when it comes to something they know pretty well, since they’ve lived in the jungle for there whole lives, she refused the medicine because she thinks they have no idea what they’re doing.

  6. stuartgaulke March 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Personally, I blame Martin for bringing his nine your old son into the jungle. Why would anyone want to bring their kid into the unknown jungle. Also, although Martin had a strong feeling that Billy was going to die, I take Hazel’s side when it comes to whether or not they should have called for the plane to try and get Billy out for help.

    • bLoGsOhArd March 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      But according to Martin, Billy only had hours to live so as it is. The whole situation was screwed up and Billy should have never been there in the first place. I probs would have sided with Martin and let him die in peace

      • wakaflockablog March 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

        I think this family really needs to figure it out. I still don’t understand why they would ever think bringing their young son with was a good idea. Both of the elder Quarrier’s are having battles with their faith, and it’s funny how a trip that should make their faith stronger is ultimately making them question their faith more than ever.

    • shannonzwicky March 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      Isn’t Hazel in the least bit at fault though? I mean, she’s the boys mother and from the sounds of it she didn’t attempt to find an alternative place for Billy to stay while they were gone but rather she just whined as soon as they got there how bad the place was….. the story deals with introducing technology to the indians, well maybe Hazel should have used technology to figure out that not everywhere is as safe as her home in the US. She is just as guilty as Martin in every aspect.

      • stuartgaulke March 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

        I agree, all im trying to say is that Martin gave Billy no chance to live when it came down to it. True they both made the decision to let Billy come to the jungle, but why not atleast give the kid a chance to live by calling in for help?

        • wakaflockablog March 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

          I agree with Stu that they should have made the call for help. Although he was very ill there could have always been the slight possibility that he could have made it out alive. Rather Martin essentially pulled the plug on Billy, and waited for him to die. Father of the year award.

  7. kristensteckbar10 March 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    There is an argument, definitely, for placing the blame of Billy’s death on Quarrier. He turns down Hazel’s request to get a plane to get Billy out of Remate in order to get him help for his sickness. It was clear that Billy was severely ill, but was there a chance of him surviving had Quarrier been able to get him a plane? Was Quarrier just trying to be realistic by coming to terms with Billy’s death? But isn’t it always worth the fight to try and save your own child’s life?

    The bigger picture also points to Quarrier as at fault because he is the one who wanted Hazel and Billy to accompany him on this journey…Had Billy never gone to Remate, he might still have his life.

  8. meghanbradley10 March 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    From a motherly point of view, the parents are at fault for their son’s death. This obsolete jungle is no place to be raising a nine year old child, no matter what. It irks me that while Billy was dying, Martin kept repeating that “this is his home” and there would be no point to bring him elsewhere and certainly not a hospital. Children can adapt but I believe that can only go so far.

    • bLoGsOhArd March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      from a fatherly point of view, i would say whatever doesnt kill you makes you stronger, but the jungle got the best of Billy. RIP Billy

    • kyleemc2010 March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      I agree with what you’re saying here, but looking at it from Billy’s point of view. He seemed to actually enjoy his jungle home. He associated with the Indians and even became fluent in their language. His innocence and naiveness may have been a part of this, but he seemed to make the best of living here.

      • benjaminjung March 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

        Honestly made the best of a situation that everyone else in the book saw as desperate and difficult. Who is to say whether or not the Quarriers should have brought him along, in fact im pretty sure if he hadn’t died he would have been happy for the experience.

        • staceydahm10 March 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

          Yes, but Billy is just a child. He would have great experiences if he went to Disney World as well, or more seriously if Quarrier continued with his past missionary in North Dakota.

  9. wakaflockablog March 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    I think the blame lies with the Quarriers. The choice to take Billy with them on the trip was a poor one because the jungle is no place for a child to be. I mean really who would want to spend their childhood in the jungle. Although Billy has a positive attitude about the whole trip, I find it to be an unsuitable decision by the parents because it put all of their lives at risk. The area lacks all technology, and the choice to live in the jungle was detrimental to everyone. The lack of medicine, and the decision to refuse help from the Indians was made by the Quarrier’s, and these two decisions led to the death of their son.

  10. erinwilliams10 March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Am I the only one who doesn’t feel that someone should be blamed for Billy’s death? He was happy in the jungle, moreso than any of the characters we’ve encountered in the book. I don’t feel that just because someone dies young there must be blame assigned, would any of us be trying to place blame if Hazel or Martin had died? Because Billy was so happy and accepted in the jungle, I don’t think its necessarily a bad thing that he died. He was well-respected among the Niaruna, and no one lied to him, saying that he wasn’t going to die. He died peacefully and prepared, in a place where he was loved.

    • aarontrost March 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      I agree with you erinwilliams10. Billy probably had a better life there then he would have had in the real world. Martin and Hazel didn’t seem to care or show Billy as much love and attention as they had in this chapter. But I think we put a blame on Billy’s death because that is what people do(I think). They try to find something to be a cause of death, and just can’t take death as a coming to a end.

    • Kel Daniels March 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      I agree. Death is part of life; sometimes it comes sooner than others, but kids die of terrible diseases even when they’re sheltered. Billy lived to the fullest.

    • shannonzwicky March 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Billy did love his situation in the jungle theres no doubt about that, but if I were the father in this family I certainly wouldn’t bring my child to this place:
      a)The Niaruna massacred the last group to try and convert them
      b) The rampent disease in the jungle is hard to avoid
      c) Theres nearly no medicine around except for tribal remedies which aren’t necessarily going to work
      d) The wildlife is both unpredictable and highly dangerous
      e) I would take into account what he would be witnessing (as far as sin and lifestyles) and had he survived how would that effect him and his spirituality in the future.

  11. hresan42 March 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Not entirely related to chapter 16 but rather this section asa whole: what does everyone think of what should be done with Hazel? How would you death with her? The death of Billy definitely gave her that final push over the edge of sanity, so what now?

    • nicklevato March 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

      “How would you DEATH her?” a little freudian slip? It sounds like maybe you want her to die in this book; and I couldn’t agree with you more. I think she should be killed off and Martin should be left with nothing but his memory with the jungle and be scarred from it. He seems to be the least apprehensive to learn from the jungle, and her dying would help. Plus, she kinda sucks.

      • staceydahm10 March 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Martin follows Moon’s example and becomes a part of the Niaruna tribe himself.

  12. erinjones10 March 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I don’t think Billy’s death was anyone’s “fault,” but just a natural progression of events since entering into the jungle. His character introduces innocence into the seemingly savage setting at the Niaruna missionary (or thought so from the point of view of the missionaries). His death rounds the plot with more reality, for no one is immune to the jungle’s darkness, not even an innocent and uncorrupted child.

  13. erinjones10 March 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    In reference to Hazel, there’s no hope for her. She grows increasingly passive, sullen, and fearful, then nearly catatonic. Living among an unfamiliar people in a harsh environment, she feels oppressed by the immediacy of both sex and death around her. And after the death of her son, she retreats completely into her own mind.

    • staceydahm10 March 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      Agree, and I think this sickness is making her feel that she needs to stay with Martin, when in reality Martin should send her home to get better. She cannot be helping anyone by staying at the missionary.

  14. brittondallas10 March 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Quarrier, for this seems as almost a selfish man, putting his young child at risk and taking his wife somewhere where she makes it clear that she hates. Billy, being put in the position of having to live in the jungle takes it very well enjoys it, seems to adapt well with the tribe, and becomes fluent in their language. However when Billy got sick, actions for that should have been taken over the missionary work they were trying to provide there. Hazel had the want to take Billy back to the states for him to get treated, with evidence on page 208 ( Did you arrange about the plane? “We’re going to stay here. Our work is here, and this is Billy’s home.” “You’re a devil…he is dying” “Even the Indians know” ). If Quarrier wasn’t selfish about his work and let the flight get arranged for his son to be treated in a prober facility, Billy possibly could have been saved. However, the tribe also tried to help Billy by giving him medicine, but she refused to let him take it, could that have helped? Or at least lengthened his life? The problem stood within both of the parents decisions, yet we still do not know if either of the treatments could have saved Billys life, however it is known for the most part, if he was never taken to the jungle by his father, he would not have become ill with malaria, and would still be alive.

  15. Kel Daniels March 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Quarrier is honest, which is good. But he tells Billy, yes, you’re going to die. Isn’t there a limit on how honest someone needs to be? Isn’t there something self righteous even about such excessive honesty at a certain point?

    • angelaledford10 March 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

      I think that Quarrier was too brutally honest with that remark to Billy. He may have been dying and there was nothing they could do but I still believe a parent should be one to give kids hope and not give up on them. I felt that his dad telling him he was going to die was giving up on him even though it was the truth.

      • petekoczmara March 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

        I totally agree. It seemed to me that Martin stopped acting like Billy’s dad at that moment. He was brutally honest with him even tho Billy is only 9 years old. I don’t think any 9 year old would want to hear that they’re going to die, especially coming from their father.

    • hresan42 March 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      I feel like Billy was almost ready to hear that at that point in the story. He has lived with the indians and adopter their ways, and I think he knew even before he asked because the rest of the tribe knew.
      He very clearly sees right through his mothers baby talk when she exclaims that of COURSE he isn’t going to die.

    • nicklevato March 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      No. I wouldn’t want to be lied to. So what, kid knew he was going to die? He gets now to do something some of us won’t get to. Understand what killed him and how. He gets to deal with his own death, the rest of us just get a surprise. And Billy didn’t even overreact, he took it calmly. That indicates that it wasn’t the worst decision because the outcome didn’t really harm anything.

    • wakaflockablog March 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      To tell a child that bluntly that he is going to die is a little extreme. I can imagine that Billy was then frightened, but had little strength or energy to show any emotion. I think Martin handled the situation poorly, and let his growing problems with his faith get the best of him. He lacked ability to be sensitive to his own kin.

    • meghanbradley10 March 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      I think that living in the jungle, regardless of how he shouldn’t have been there in the first place, really matured Billy. He’d been around the natives and in several situations that no child at the age of nine should experience. So I think if Quarrier would have lied and told Billy he was going to live, would be kind of like playing Billy as a fool.

  16. 0213rose March 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    I thought Martins comment was was overstepping what he needed to say. As a parent it is your job to comfort your children in their time of need, and he didn’t do that. Not one bit. If I was Billy and I heard that I would be terrified. At that point all hope would have been lost.

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