Artwork for podcast Books, Ballads, and B-Roll
Loss, Love, and Lamentation
Episode 116th October 2023 • Books, Ballads, and B-Roll • HVSPN
00:00:00 00:18:40

Share Episode


Hopewell Valley Student Podcasting Network

Books, Ballads, and B-Roll

Loss, Love, and Lamentation

Episode #1

You are listening to Books, Ballads, and B-roll, the podcast, with your hosts, Bee and Alastair.

In this episode, we discuss: the theme of loss in relation to the book The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green; the movie The Song of the Sea, directed by Tom Moore; and the Song The Ghost of Virginia, by Justin Townes Earle.

Segment 1: The Fault in Our Stars

In John Green’s famous novel, two teenagers, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters (aka “Gus”), meet through a cancer support group and fall in love. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Hazel’s disease is terminal, and the characters grapple with ideas of death and oblivion and what this means for their legacy.

Our opinions on the novel:

  • Bee sympathizes with Hazel and Gus but does not feel their relationship works well—she finds them to be pretentious, finds Gus to be overly direct, and finds the speed at which they fell in love unrealistic. 
  • Alastair somewhat disagrees, feeling that Gus and Hazel’s direct demeanor and the way they fell in love were a realistic result of the fact that they both know they have limited time, and want to make the most of it while they’re alive.
  • Bee thinks Hazel’s character is somewhat flat, not noticing substantial character growth over the course of the novel.
  • Alastair agrees that Hazel could have changed more as a character, but disagrees that she did not grow; she realized throughout the book that loving someone is worthwhile even if your time with them is severely limited, and goes from thinking of herself as a “grenade” that other people shouldn’t get too close to, to accepting that other people are happy with their choice to love her even though it may result in grief.

Segment 2: The Song of the Sea; Comparisons and Connections

In this beautiful animated film, a young boy named Ben navigates a complex relationship with his younger sister, Saoirse, and his father who’s been distant ever since the loss of his wife. It’s kind of unclear what happened to Ben’s mother, Bronagh. She began having pains when Saoirse was about to be born and had to go out to sea to give birth. Saoirse was washed up on the shore and returned to her father safely, but Bronagh never returned. It seems like she may have died during childbirth, but there is a heart wrenching scene in the end where she comes back and says goodbye to her family once more, before returning to sea forever. As it turns out, Bronagh is a selkie and Saoirse is part selkie.

Our opinions on the movie:

  • The animation is amazing! The watercolor-style art is beautiful, and the way the characters are drawn and portrayed gives them vivid personalities.
  • The mythology aspect is really interesting, and the music, voice acting, and art combine to bring it to life.

Comparisons and connections with The Fault in our Stars

  • Bee finds the characters to be more endearing than those in The Fault in our Stars, seeing them as having more things that make you want to root for them even if they are flawed.
  • Alastair agrees that the characters are very endearing, but feels that Gus and Hazel also have personalities that make you want to root for them.
  • The movie is full of hidden meaning and wonder—lots of “metaphorical resonances,” as Gus likes to point out in The Fault in Our Stars!

Segment 3: The Ghost of Virginia; More Comparisons and Connections

This eerie song explores the idea of becoming obsolete to society through the metaphor of a ghost train. 

Our opinions of the song:

  • Bee often listened to it when she was younger, as her dad is a big Justin Townes Earle fan, and was both scared of and entranced by it.
  • Alastair was initially surprised by the depth of the song, having mostly experienced a more mainstream type of country music involving southern men singing about trucks. 
  • Bee agrees that a lot of stereotypes around country music aren’t actually accurate, and even songs about trucks can be meaningful and carry deep emotions.
  • We both agree that it’s a very interesting take on loss.
  • The theme of obsolescence introduces loss on a societal level—the loss of a technology that, while seemingly less efficient, might have actually been better for us.

Comparisons and connections between The Ghost of Virginia and The Fault in our Stars:

  • In addition to the song, the novel also deals with the idea of obsolescence: Gus and Hazel both have moments when they feel, because of their illnesses, that they aren’t of any use to society or the world. However, they both learn that, while it’s tragic their lives are so restricted, it doesn’t mean they won’t leave any mark on the world. Their memory will live on in the minds of others, and the relationships and love they’ve given and received are enough to make their lives worthwhile. 

Music Credits:

  • Flowers and Weeds (Acoustic Guitar & Penny Whistle) by Axletree
  • Marty Gots a Plan by Kevin MacLeod

Connect with us on Social Media





More from YouTube