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Week 4: The Beggar Maid

The Beggar Maid

1. Unlike the last two books, The Beggar Maid can be considered a collection of connected short stories. Does this change the way you read the book? Do you think this style is more or less effective than the continuous narratives found in The Road and Waiting for the Barbarians?

2. We’re seeing a lot of big subjects in these stories, including beating a man to death, multiple cases of rape, incest, and other violent acts. With that said, it seems as if this violence isn’t the point of the book. Why do you think Munro includes this type of material in her stories? Do you think it’s an effective technique?

3. This book seems really interested in place. By that, I mean that the town itself seems like a strong, changing character as we proceed through the book. If you want, build off this idea: what do we learn from the town as a character, how do you see it changing throughout the stories?

4. What do you make of the later stories of the book? In particular, how does adult Rose connect to childhood Rose? Why is such emphasis put on the conflict between people who study history and artists/musicians/actors? Do you think the last story effectively wraps up the book?

5. Other thoughts, questions, things you’d like to address in class?

Comments

I think that adult Rose is very similar to childhood Rose because both enjoy stories. I think that the difference between adult and child Rose is that adult Rose enjoys creating and telling stories whereas child Rose enjoys listening to them. Another reason adult Rose is very similar to childhood Rose is because neither learns from their actions. When Rose is a child, she acts up, knowing that she will get a “royal beating? for her bad behavior. As an adult, Rose makes the same mistakes over and over again in her relationships.

I don’t think that the last story effectively wraps up the book because it mentions a character that wasn’t mentioned in any of the other stories (Ralph Gillespie). In this last story, Rose gives the impression that Ralph was a very important person in her life. Yet, this doesn’t tie in very well with rest of the stories, because Ralph is never mentioned in any of them that I can remember, including the ones of her early school days. Also, Rose never kept in contact with Ralph, apparently they just had an understanding and appreciation of each other, although this connection never showed up in the overwhelming majority of their lives.

I found that the way this story was written, as a collection of short stories, was not as effective as the other books we have read. The stories would jump from the present to the past, to further in the past, to closer to the present, all without any warning. I found myself trying to construct a time line from the little information given, but was quite unsuccessful. The author seemed to want to focus on the characters and not the chronological progression of their lives. However, this was distracting, instead of playing attention to what was happening, I would begin to question. When was this story taking place? Before or after other events had occurred? How old was Rose when these stories were happening? I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if there were more structure and a specific order of events.

I thought that having the book as a collection of short stories was not as effective as the continuous narrative. I thought that these stories were so self contained that they did not really have an effect on one another. The main character of Rose and some other important characters like Flo and Peter where in more than one story but other that the stories were not really connected. Even when the stories were supposed to connected back to an earlier part of Rose’s life like the last story did with meeting Ralph Gillespie at the legion. She supposedly had a strong connection to boy named Ralph Gillespie but he is not mentioned in the first three stories that were about her when she was in school. I thought the last story did do a very good job of ending the collection because it did really tie anything together it was just another self-contained story.

I like the way this type of novel is written. Through the connection of short stories, you get to know Rose like you would a real person, learning parts of her life and personality one piece at a time. When you reach the end of the novel you have the entire picture. Waiting for the Barbarians you know every intimate thought and every action that the main character takes from point A to point B, which is quite unrealistic.
This style of writing changed the way I read this book compared to Waiting for the Barbarians. I felt I could relax and enjoy the book instead of constantly looking for deeper meaning in every action the main character took. The Beggar Maid came together, for me, in the end to be about a strong woman looking to make something of herself, yet her goals had nothing to do with having a ton of money and an expensive lifestyle. I like that Alice Munro is not afraid to write about the raw and gritty aspects of life, however deplorable. It makes Rose’s story all that more real to me.
I was confused by the last story. I would like to know how Milton Homer fits into the novel or why he matters, other than it is the only subject that Rose and her brother, Brian, can talk about and agree upon.

The style of this book turned me away from wanting to read it because it was so fragmented that it just didn’t seem like one cohesive story. For some books, this style works (for example, explaining the same basic event through multiple different angles or personalities), but for “The Beggar Maid,? the opposite held. For me, the base plot would have been confusing enough (with all the different characters, different personalities, and different events) even if Alice Munroe would have written the book “normally? – like books I have become accustomed to reading.

Sometimes the jumps in time are necessary (dream sequences) when an author writes a book. However, authors generally don’t go forward in time, then back, then further back, and then way forward. Important details can be missed while reading because the reader is constantly wondering when the story is taking place; I found this to be true for me while reading the book. So for me, this style was less effective than the other books we’ve read this semester. In The Road and The Barbarians, the only variable in the story the reader had to keep track of was the plot – for the most part, the setting, the time, and the characters stayed the same. But, for The Beggar Maid, the reader had to keep track of not only these things, but also the time. The style may make for a more dramatic piece of literature (being able to fit more details in), but also a more confusing one (having to keep track of too many facts).

Alice Munro’s The Beggar Maid is interesting in its ability to combine some elements of
modernism with a traditional story and themes. In the style of Faulkner and many others,
the timelines are disjointed. While this creates much confusion, it forces the reader to follow the characters in manners not possible with traditional narratives. It does not, however, flow in a stream of consciousness or reflect many of the sublime tones of modernism. The story is more approachable, even commonplace. The writing style is rigid and formalized. The book asks its reader to overcome the challenges of a modernist style, but offers a lesser reward for doing so. In such, there is an almost awkward combination of the conventional and the daring; it seems in a limbo between the two, and achieves neither.

The style of this book is very different that the other ones we have read. I like it but you must pay attention because the storys can switch in the next paragraph. I like the relationship with Rose and Flo. I think it is a typical relationship between child and stepchild. Most children with steparents Don't want to recognize them as authoritative figures in their life and they tend to try and push their buttons. I think the book does a good job in portraying that early on. I aslo think that it is typical for stepchild and parent to feel distant but in reality trust one another overtime. I think that Rose and Flo develop that trust in the book.

In the Beggar Maid, there was a collection of many short stories throughout the book. I thought that this method of writing was very hard to follow. I understand that each story was suppose to connect to one another, but sometimes it got hard to see how. The stories would go back and fourth from present to past, it was never consistent, and did not have much flow. This was very hard for me to keep up with, because the book was not that interesting, and to go back and fourth all the time made me loose any train of thought I had. I found myself having to go back and read a story over again just to understand the story that followed it, and that took up a lot of time. I found that waiting for the Barbarians was a much more effective read, because it was a consistent read all the way through.

The Beggar’s Maid’s convoluted and random nature made it difficult to establish a clear understanding of her present situation. The chapter about the Rose’s relationship with Tom didn’t make sense until I realized that she had actually reconciled with him after her emotional rejection of his marriage in his dormroom. This was an example of how details of her life actually were established out of time order, and I wasted more time trying to understand what had happened in the last few pages instead of the current pages I was trying to read. Alice Munro’s way of writing seems to be regarded as genius and creative, but for me, the simple college student, I am content with the simple literary narrative that was The Road and Waiting for the Barbarians.
The town as a character was very interesting in the sense that as soon as Rose was finished with an episode in her life, she grew out of love with the city she was currently residing with. After Rose had to give up her daughter back to Patrick, she decided that everything she loved in the city no longer mattered to her, and she decided to move. I also see the transition from small poor town to big city as a parallel metaphor for Rose’s maturation and emotional complexities. The differences between what her life was in the small town to her independent lifestyle is a great representation of how far she had come in life.

The issue I want to write about is the acts of violence or immorality. I agree that violence and sex were not the point of the book. However, I do think that including these elements was effective especially how she Munro wrote about them. First, these acts really happened. This book seems like a lot of it was loosely based Munro’s own life. So, she was simply writing about what she knew. Second, the way she wrote about them was not with detail on the extremely gory or depraved behavior. Rather, she wrote about these things very matter of factly. And I think, that’s what made the stories more real. If she had over emphasized some of these episodes, then they would have seemed out of place and less true. Yes, some of these events were brutal, like the rape of the retarded girl, but they only make the story more real and show us who the character or Rose really is.

I did not enjoy the style that 'The Beggar Maid' was written in as much as 'The Road' and 'Waiting for the Barbarians'. I felt as though it was really hard to follow because the story jumped around a lot; I find it easier when stories are written in a chronological order, because the author builds on previous events instead of starting and stopping. In lecture, my group kind of came to an interesting conclusion that the book is written in the sense of a knitted quilt. It resembles a quilt because it has patches of different stories in different places, and it is knitted because most of the stories seem to intertwine. Overall, I felt that the way the story jumped around in time distracted/confused me to the point that I was not grasping the underlying meaning of the book. It was a challenging read because it is really up to reader to connect the different stories; the author does not do it for you.

I think the style of 'The Beggar Maid' was pretty interesting because of its lack of cohesiveness. I believe it was not meant to be easy to follow and having it jump around a lot made it a hazier and more in depth analysis into the characters. In reality its hard to find thematic issues in chronological order. The confusion and distraction of the story is central to the underlying meaning of the book. It conveys something more abstract and harder to grasp than a simple theme. Because the author led it to the reader to put together the pieces of the different stories, I believe it makes the reader more involved in the interpretation of what is written. Ross' analogy of a knitted quilt works well to describe both the cohesive and lack of cohesiveness in the book.

I both liked and disliked the way the book was arranged. I think that the collection of short stories was necessary but at points hard to read. I personally like when books are in normal narrative format and have a continuing story to follow. In this book however, the short stories were almost necessary. I think that in order for Munro to be able to talk about Rose’s childhood and adulthood, she needed to write the book in this way. If she would have done an ongoing narrative she would not have been able to cover as much of the story. I also think it was important that each chapter, or short story, covered a different important moment in Rose’s life. I found it helpful that each chapter focused on a different issue and went into detail about that specific issue. Even though I found the short stories helpful, I also found them frustrating at times. I did not like how the book jumped around so much. I found some of the stories meaningless and not really necessary and others very important. Overall I think the book was arranged it the best possible way for this type of story, although personally I still prefer continuous narratives.

Like we had mentioned in lecture today, I feel that Munro is really reaching out more towards the women readers in the Beggar Maid. With this said, I think that the violent stories really affect women in a different way than men. Women, in general, see these types of acts as more violent than men and also, I believe, women fear these acts such as rape and beatings much more than men do. Also what I really feel is that Munro almost molds Rose around these stories. I believe she makes the reader pity Rose more with these stories that Rose has experienced. Also since Munro is reaching out to the female crowd I feel that she also could have put rape and beating and those types of violence in to make the reader connect with Rose on a more personal basis. If not connect personally, then know someone who has experienced any one of these things and try to relate there. We all know or know someone who knows a household of violence. It brings the story into relative perspective for the reader which allows them to connect to the story and the main character. When it came to the less common scenes, like incest and train rides and school, I believe that not only did they add more excitement?(bad word choice) to the stories, but they also portrayed women being taken advantage of. So for the women who read the story I really feel it was more or less a way to connect to the book and also to make the stories beyond the everyday monotony of life. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a little gossip or a flavorful story every now and then, right?

When reading The Beggar Maid, the stories were obviously askew. It seemed like Alice Munro was just ‘following a train of thought,’ but that her train of thought did not stay on subject – like she has the type of mind that goes on tangents. Although this book is written in segments of short stories, can it still be considered a novel? I guess to answer the previous question we would have to know the definition of a novel. In some sense I would think that this book is a novel, as it chronicles the life of a woman, although somewhat sporadically, and it is not simply a collection of random stories with no relationship between them. At the same time, however, could a novel be a series of short stories following differing characters as long as in the end some cohesiveness ties all of the characters together?

I think The Beggar Maid was definitely a significant change of pace. It was interesting to me because typically I can’t stand reading books that are centered around basic family life and the issues that come up while growing up but after the last two books, it was actually very pleasant to read a basic story that you didn’t have to follow every little detail; it was more like a Seinfeld episode where you could miss some of it and you’d still get the gist of it. This made the reading a little easier but it also made it harder to stay hooked on it and keep reading. The lack of events is another thing I disliked about it. I get really interested when there is action and decision making. Rose definitely had to make some decisions but I also felt like they were always the wrong ones. Being in a relationship, it just made me mad how easy it was for her to be deceitful and pretend like nothing was wrong. Rose was frustrating but other than that, this book seemed pretty accurate at times and I enjoyed the humor from Jocelyn; that saved me from burning the book.

The Beggar Maid is definitely a collection of short stories rather than a novel. This made the book not necessarily harder to read, but more time consuming. The technique she used almost seemed like she was just following a train of thought. I think that this made it a little easier to relate to, because in our own lives everything doesn’t necessarily follow a chronological order or even an order that makes sense. That being said, it does make things more confusing, because you have to re-read and relate thoughts and ideas to various parts of all the short stories. This seems very relevant to life, where in order to make sense of things or ideas, you must piece together the puzzle. Also, this train of thought way of writing helps to develop Rose’s character, because she seems so indecisive and almost flippant about her life. She knows she wants something, but has to go through the ins and outs of almost everything before even knowing exactly what she wants.

This story isn’t a fairytale. It’s gritty and real. That might be why Munro put in the stories of rape and violence. It seems like Rose wanted a fairytale when she was little, but she didn’t get it. She got real life instead, which is what we will all probably end up with. She sort of got a taste of “fairytale life? when she was with Patrick, but it wasn’t perfect. In fact, she seemed unhappy for most of it. But then even after she left Patrick she didn’t seem all that happy to me. I think this story is about life. Even though it only centers around one person, I think a lot of us could relate to some parts of it. I know I could. I felt a connection to Rose while I was reading this, and as she aged the book started to make me feel sad. It made me wonder what my life will end up like. She had it all when she was with Patrick but something was still missing. I think towards the end of the book she started to understand herself more, especially once she saw Ralph Gillespie. But at the same time that part confused me. I thought she would have had some kind of relationship with him, like she had done with men before, but she didn’t. Maybe that was trying to show us that she had grown? I’m not entirely sure. In any case, this book is filled with real life events and sadness and hurt, but also with love and happiness. Munro might have been looking for a balance. She tried to show us a real life of a person, and it’s not going to be all sunshine and roses.

I actually enjoyed the style in which this book was written. Munro’s jump from each short story kept me engaged and interested throughout the book’s entirety. I felt that even though at the beginning of a chapter it may have been tough figuring out exactly when each section was taking place, the end result was effective. My only guess would be that Munro didn’t want us to know this information. She didn’t want to spell it out for us, and that must be a sign that, in this book, the specific time is not the main issue. I was also able to see more clearly the change in Rose from one time period to the next. She behaved slightly different in each story and it was an interesting way to see her character’s progression throughout the novel. She was still the same person, but slightly matured with each passing chapter/story.

That being said, I can’t quite put my finger on my feelings about this book. I didn’t completely understand the end and how Ralph’s character seemed so important for that small second. There were times that I enjoyed reading it, but I think the most annoying part for me was how Rose’s love life never seemed to work out. In all honesty, when I was finished reading the novel I felt like it may have just been a waste of my time.

The way that The Beggar Maid is written reminds me of a television series, whereas the other books we read where more similar to movies. Individually, the stories are different events that happened to Rose, and while all these “adventures? are different and we aren’t sure about the exact chronological order of things, there is a sort of continuity through all the stories. Collectively, the stories construct what happens in Rose’s life. Therefore, I would consider it a novel, even though it’s different from most novels

I would say that all three books that we have read so far are depressing. The Road was extremely depressing with the constant hopelessness of the situations the boy and the man faced. Waiting for the Barbarians was also dark with the amount of torture in the story, and then the settlement slowly corroding. The Beggar Maid continued this depressing streak with all the rape, sexual molestation, and violence that occurred in the stories. And even though Rose becomes successful when she’s older, she doesn’t seem legitimately happy with her life at the end of the book. Hopefully the novels that we read in the future are more positive.

I thought the style of the Begger Maid was confusing to follow and very different from the other two books we have read in class. I thought it was confusing because there was no cohesiveness through out the book and it made it difficult to follow especially after reading two books that went chronological. I also didn't like the stories in the book either. I found the first story to be especially dry and uninteresting. Although some of the later stories were better, I still wasn't able to get into it as mush as The Road or Waiting for the Barbarians. Despite me not liking it I did think it was interesting way of writing a book and something different that I have never read before.

The Beggar Maid, in my opinion, was just a bunch of stories and not a novel. I often found myself having to slow down or reread parts to follow along the jumps in time and almost random thoughts inserted throughout the stories. The book didn’t flow and was difficult to adjust to after reading the first two books in class. The jumpiness and mixed thoughts in the writing does help get a better understanding of Rose’s personality. She seems to go back and forth on a lot of things and can’t make up her mind, such as her relationship with Patrick. Overall, I prefer a continuous novel over a separated collection of stories.

When I first started reading The Beggar Maid, it was a very difficult piece of literature to get used to. It was interesting, but was much more disjointed than the previous books we have read. It was easy for me to put down since the stories were so different and didn’t seem to be all that related. As I kept reading and saw how the stories were related, I felt that the style of the book made it more realistic and engaging. A girl in my discussion group today mentioned that she felt that the style was fitting because it jumped around like a person’s memory would; I completely agree. I also felt that since the stories were not sequential it made me more hooked into the novel. When I found out little bits of information about future Rose, I wanted to keep reading to find out how this happened. For example, when she mentioned that she was famous in the future, I wanted to know how a girl from her “circumstance? could come to be this way. That being said, I was not satisfied with the ending of the book. I felt that I didn’t get enough explanation and justification as I wanted, that there were bits of important information left out. Yet, this is also how memories are. One does not always remember everything that happens in life, but vividly remember the important events or people.

Like the Beggar's Maid, I find that reading Dubliners is more challenging and less efficient for me. I like narrative books with a plot and events constantly adding to that plot. I like ready a story and putting different parts of that story together. I like reading about people, like The Road, because it helps me get into the book more. I like to feel that I can't put the book down instead of dreading to read it. I thought that this book was going to be more like The Road because the first three stories focus on the young boy and the death of the priest, skipping school with his friend, and then his crush in the story about Araby. It was very frustrating to then read the fourth story and you are given new characters and a different setting. I struggle with finding the bigger picture of the novel if there is a bunch of short stories which I can't see relating to eachother. I agree with the guy who said that he was frustrated with the sense of incompletion in the stories today in lecture. My example would of been the second story where they meet the strange man in the field. The man walks away and one of the boys says to the other, " look at what hes doing", the book never tells you what hes doing, I wanted to know what he was doing! It was very frustrating and when I read something that frustrates me I tend to lose interest.

I have had a very difficult time motivating myself to read this book. I have flown through reading the previous books and found them interesting and easy to read. However, I find “Dubliners” to be very uninteresting due to the lack of continuing characters. Just as I start to relate to a character and enjoy a story, it’s over and there’s an entirely new character to read about. Also, the switching from 1st person in the first three stories to 2nd person in the next three stories seemed strange and was an abrupt change. I also have had a problem with the lack of information given to the reader and I find myself with many unanswered questions. I did pick up on the continuing theme of paralysis that we discussed in class and so far I have found that to be the most interesting part of the book.

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Dubliners so far. The stories don’t move forward until the last couple of pages, and then they end. I guess I don’t find snapshots of an assortment of different people’s lives very interesting. Especially since the stories aren’t about anything extraordinary. They may have been astonishing to readers during James Joyce’s time, but death, perverts, abuse, love and longing are topics that everyone today is familiar with seeing in all sorts of media. Because the situations and themes of the stories were nothing out of the ordinary, I got nothing out of them. In fact, I had difficulty reading each of these stories because they are all so familiar (the drunk who beats his kids, the person who can’t let go of their present life and move on to something new, trying to fit in….), but I have heard better, more complete versions of them.

I find this book very hard to read because of the way that it is set up. I don’t like how there are completely separate stories in each chapter. In the Beggar maid each chapter was a different story but they all connected to Rose’s life. In Dubliners there is no connection and it makes the book very confusing. So far I am not a fan of the book at all. I feel like I need someone to explain to me what the main point of the story is. I keep waiting for the stories to connect somehow and so far that has not happened. So far my favorite stories have been Araby, Eveline, and The Boarding House. These three stories kept my attention and seemed to make the most sense to me. I thought that they had a somewhat interesting plot line and the story line kept me interested. However, I did not enjoy After the Race. I found this story to be extremely confusing and boring. I didn’t understand what was happening and it had a lack of excitement. Overall I hope that the book starts to make more sense to me otherwise it will be a very hard read.

I think the style of The Dubliners is very intriguing. Its lack of cohesiveness gives a better image of the lives of Dubliners. The separate stories provoke a different message than your typical book with flowing characters and stories. I don't think that there is a main point to the story, but that no specific point is even trying to be made. Some of the stories were more appealing and easier to read than others, and some were boring. The story Araby struck me as the most notable. The incompleteness of the stories seems to be central to Dubliners and can be frustrating to read but if it were another way it would not be a significant novel.

I think the style of The Dubliners is very intriguing. Its lack of cohesiveness gives a better image of the lives of Dubliners. The separate stories provoke a different message than your typical book with flowing characters and stories. I don't think that there is a main point to the story, but that no specific point is even trying to be made. Some of the stories were more appealing and easier to read than others, and some were boring. The story Araby struck me as the most notable. The incompleteness of the stories seems to be central to Dubliners and can be frustrating to read but if it were another way it would not be a significant novel.

In starting to read Dubliners, especially the first three chapters, I had found it to be a much more interesting and easier book to read than the Beggar Maid. I think this is because the short stories seem to be a little better planned out within themselves than what I found in Beggar Maid. Once the point of view changed from first person I was a little thrown off at first, but then again was able to catch up with the story as it was going along. I find this short story compilation (or whatever it is) style of writing difficult when it comes to being involved in the entire book, but it does take care of the problem of monotony that are found in some books since something different is always happening. I have yet to find a real connection between all of the stories besides just the first three and am starting to wonder if there will actually be some abstract connection, or no connection at all.

I don’t know how I feel about Dubliners yet. It’s interesting how he switched from first person to third person for the stories we’ve read so far. I’m curious about how the rest of the novel is set up. But I don’t like that I’m always left wanting more. Right as you start getting into a story it’s over. And then you move on to something completely different. It’s hard for me to grasp what’s going on most of the time; I’m not sure if it’s because of the language that he uses or if I’m just not into reading this yet. My favorite so far is Eveline, and I think that’s because I understood what was going on. These stories also seem to have a depressing end. It reminds me of the book Interpreter of Maladies in some ways. The stories are unrelated to each other, and they’re not necessarily uplifting. I think once I figure out how to read the book I’ll like it more.

I haven’t really been able to get into the Dubliners yet. Unlike the Beggar Maid, the stories aren’t really connected anyway except for the fact of being in Dublin. I dislike that as soon as you start reading one of the stories and begin to understand the characters, the story ends and you have to start all over again with new characters. The stories so far have felt very incomplete and made me want to know more of what was happening. For me so far the best story has been Araby. I mainly like this story the best due to us being able to discuss it a bit more in class and getting a better understanding of everything that happened in it. I feel like I can somewhat connect with the big letdown of the boy getting to the bazaar and it being closed. All of the stories seem to not be very motivating and don’t leave you feeling very happy and the end of them.

When I initially finished the first six stories, I did not like Dubliners. The stories were connected at all, and the flow of the stories kept being interrupted by the phrases and slang that I didn’t know and had to look up in the back. While reading, I wished James Joyce had written more like Cormac McCarthy, so the story would flow and the individual words wouldn’t distract from the novel as a whole.

Lecture today changed my feelings towards Dubliners. The theme of the “paralysis of Dublin” connected the stories for me. Learning from the quest speaker how James Joyce chose certain phrases to build up the story and the structures he intentionally used, made me appreciate the book. This book needs to be read more actively than passively, so for the rest of the book I am going make sure to do just that. Rather than just reading the words for the story, I’m going to think about why the author chose these words for this part and what does this section do for the rest of the story.


Few writers, James Joyce probably chief among them, are able to so keenly and intimately depict the culture of a place. As a native son and astute intellectual, Joyce is able to write a book that is as much a treatise on the culture of Dublin as it is a traditional study of character. This is why the stories take the form that they do. Their purpose is not to dwell on the development of characters, but to develop a series of anecdotes and tales whose sum is a sketch of a culture and city. It comes with great irony, then, the Joyce left Dublin; perhaps he knew it too well.

I believe that the way that this story is written does change the way that you read the book. Instead of the book being in a chronological order it seems to be all over the place always adding different characters and it gets to be extremely annoying! I do not really care for these types of books I prefer Chapters! I believe that this style is less affective because you are never able to focus in on one extreme of the book because it seems that once it climaxes another short story appears. It is crazy! The Road to me was the best written so far there was no all over the place and you were able to understand what happened, when it happened, and where because it all took place there!

I just posted the one with no name! Sorry!

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