Ethan, Callie Questions and (maybe) Answers

*Edited to correct inaccuracies.

I get quite a lot of email about the Wilderness series, and I’m always thrilled to hear from readers. Really, thrilled. Writing is a very solitary occupation and every once in a while I start to wonder if I’ve hallucinated everything. Your emails remind me that somebody is out there, listening. So thank you.

Over the last year or so, I have been getting the same question over and over again (yesterday, twice, as a matter of fact):

What’s up with Ethan and Callie? What exactly happened?

It goes against the grain to answer questions like this. Generally it’s up to you, as reader, to interpret the story as you see fit. You might decide that Ethan has been replaced by an alien and is working undercover to arrange the destruction of mankind. I doubt you could convince me, but I couldn’t tell you you’re wrong. If that’s where the story went for you, then that’s the end of that.  You may have a theory I find hard to fathom, but that is your right.

So let’s look at Ethan and Callie.

Things you know for sure:

  1. Ethan lived in Manhattan for two years because his uncle Todd’s will demanded it of him. He didn’t return to Paradise in  that time.
  2. He’s a friendly guy, and so he will have made friends. He sees Martha Kirby quite regularly, and tutors her. He’s very attached to the Spencer family, which is where Martha lives as the Spencers are her guardians.
  3. He leaves New York to return to Paradise quite suddenly.
  4. Once back in Paradise there’s no talk of friends in Manhattan, no overt sign of letter writing, no visitors.  He is, essentially, without immediate family though he always included in the Bonner family affairs as Elizabeth’s nephew.
  5. He dedicates himself, all his energy and resources, into putting the village back on its feet after years of decline. His small circle of friends includes Callie ad Daniel, Blue-Jay and Runs-from-Bears and Nathaniel.
  6. In all the time you’ve known him, he has never shown interest in the opposite sex.
  7. Martha is back in Paradise too, and eventually Jemima shows up ready to make trouble, as usual.
  8. Jemima lets it be known that she did some investigating in Manhattan and knows all about Martha’s sad little engagement. In fact, she visited Martha’s fiance’s mother and put an end to the whole ridiculous undertaking. Why she did this isn’t immediately apparent.
  9. About the same time Jemima lets it be known that she investigated Martha while in New York, she  says she did the same for  Ethan.  She voices this in a threatening way.
  10. Ethan lives on his own and is lonely. he sees Callie as someone he likes and admires, and someone who needs his help. Marriages have been founded on far worse foundations, and if he can get her to agree, they will both be better off.
  11. Because his experience is wider and he is lonely, he recognizes that same problem in her.
  12. Callie has never shown interest in the opposite sex, either.
  13. When Martha marries suddenly, Callie feels hugely betrayed and rejected.
  14. Ethan may recognize this reaction as founded in something other than sisterly affection.
  15. Ethan capitalizes on the opportunity: he couches his proposal in terms that Callie can live with, and offers her things that she needs and wants. Friendship not least among them.
  16. They marry and make a stable, peaceful, kind home where they raise Jennet and Luke’s children.  And they never sleep in the same bed.

So read through this list and then ask yourself the question: what was the basis of Ethan and Callie’s relationship?


6 Replies to “Ethan, Callie Questions and (maybe) Answers”

  1. The foundation of Ethan and Callie’s relationship is a shared history. They have known each other all their lives and have developed an enduring friendship. Marriage is both mutually beneficial and fulfilling. Loneliness is held at bay and a unique, loving family life develops.

  2. He was gay. Jemima found out about it somehow when he was in New York, and he flew back home. It is possible that Daniel knew about it already but didn’t make any fuss about it, but no one else in town knew.

    Callie was abandoned, by everyone. A fragile psyche and at a complete breaking point, or already broken. The last person she had left to her was Martha, and Martha up and married Daniel out of the blue. I don’t think Callie was lesbian in the sense that all she was attracted to were women, but I think if Martha had given her an opening, she would have taken it. She was scared to become a mother because she thought she would become crazy like her own mother, so when Ethan ensured that he would never sleep with her, that was the best thing she could get.

    I was surprised Jemima didn’t say anything revealing about Ethan at the last inquest when she was dying.

    1. That’s a very interesting reading, and pretty close to my own. The question about Jemima, though: I don’t see her as all evil, all the time. She’s very complex.

      1. Well, I picked up on your clues and expected something to come out of it :) Jemima was just the natural one to expose it, if anyone would.

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