Book Beginnings and Bookends is back! Feel free to join along, right now we are reading Ape House by Sara Gruen.
1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans?
I had no idea that that level of communication was possible. It made me wonder how accurate the book is.
2. Isabel said early in the book that the apes know they’re apes and know that the humans are humans, but they don’t see any superiority with either… What do you think the major difference is between the two?
I think this distinction exists specifically for these apes because of their interactions with humans. The humans are in control but at the same time give the apes a lot of control over their environment through their ability to communicate. I think other animals in captivity would be forced to view humans as the dominant species.
3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out?
I thought that this was clear foreshadowing that they were going to get together. As chapter three rolled around and they were describing Amanda’s depression, the Jaws music cued in my head and I thought there was no way that she lived through the chapter. But she’s still with us, so now I’m not sure how John and Isabel’s relationship will play out.
4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken?
She views them as her family and will probably do whatever it takes to get them back. I think that she is going to channel her emotional pain into fighting hard for them.
5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center?
I don’t think so. She seemed genuinely surprised and upset that Isabel was injured. Plus, it seems like if you were witnessing how well the bonobos were treated, you wouldn’t want them to be violently removed from their habitat.
6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda?
So much of their relationship is really sweet. They clearly love each other. Amanda is unhappy in life in general, and I think that is putting a strain on their relationship. She keeps mentioning having children almost as a solution to this problem, which sends up a major red flag for me. I hope that they pull through this rough period.
I’m really enjoying it so far! I’m particularly interested in how John and Amanda’s relationship holds up over long distance. I can’t wait to keep reading.