Hey, Sycamore Rowers! We’re back with another few words about our community book. This week, I’m going to take a look at question 3, which deals with Seth Hubbard.
3. If Seth is of sound mind and not unduly influenced by anyone, why do you think he attempts to right his family’s wrongs in this manner — through a posthumous letter and a holographic will — knowing that it will provoke such intense conflict? Are his actions considerate of Lettie? Are they unfair to his family? Do they put Jake in an unnecessarily difficult position? In the same situation, what would you have done?
Oh, Seth Hubbard. We’ll get into my REAL thoughts about the man in a moment, but isn’t it interesting that he’s essentially the main character of the book — aside from Jake — and he’s already dead when the book begins? In a way, aside from the legal aspect, Sycamore Row is sort of a murder mystery, but instead of a whodunnit, it’s more of a whydunnit. (I’m sure that expression is about to sweep the nation.)
While by the end of the book we understand Seth’s motivations for leaving most everything to Lettie, he sure doesn’t make it easy on anyone, does he? It makes me think that he is reluctant to atone for his father’s sins, and so setting up this bomb and waiting for it to explode after his funeral is a cowardly way of handling it. He still could have wounded his family and given everything to Lettie had he merely snuck on over to Jake’s office and had him perform some lawyerly magic on a revised will. Why make everyone work so hard for his supposed good deed?
Last time I posted a discussion question, I got a little carried away and called Seth some names (“crusty old booger,” for one), but every time I revisit him as a character, I come to the same conclusion: doing one good deed, even if it’s a doozie, doesn’t make you a good person.
Back to the discussion question prompt: in the same situation, what would I have done? Here’s a list:
1. Try not to be so unpleasant in general.
2. Find a therapist to work through childhood trauma.
3. Get a hobby.
4. Make a real will.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments!