The Love Interests of Christy: David vs. Doctor Neil MacNeill

January 26, 2018 by noelbranham in Books 10 comments
The Love Interests of Christy: David vs. Doctor Neil MacNeill

(Contains Spoilers for Christy!)

I read Christy (by Catherine Marshall)  in two days. Not only was it a beautifully written and timeless narrative of Appalachian culture it was also a most refreshing romance. The most surprising (and refreshing!) aspect of the story was  Christy falling in love while being unaware of it happening; she had never felt like this before. She thought she knew what love was from her relationship with the honorable David Grantland, but towards the end, she discovered that it wasn’t loved at all. Now I’ve heard the questions before: When did she fall in Love with Doctor Neil MacNeill? Did the Doctor really love her? How was the relationship with Neil relationship better than her and David’s? Here are some answers about how Christy and Doctor Neil’s relationship was true love:

  • Respect: Christy has many ideas regarding how to improve education in the impoverished mountains. But David doesn’t take her seriously:

“David smiled at me in a patronizing way. “It just wouldn’t work, Christy.” Dr. MacNeill held up a restraining hand. “Wait a moment before we judge. Christy, what would David do with the men? What kind of classes?”

David dismissed Christy’s ability to lead on many occasions, where the doctor is always supportive and encouraging, within the realm of reason. Neil recognizes that the same passion Christy has for the mountain people is the reason he is a doctor today. Someone looked at him and saw the possibility in him instead of poverty and now he is helping the people in his community. Neil respects Christy and appreciated her more than David could ever hope to.

  • Openness: At one point Christy is struggling with the death of a friend and she asks David for answers. He responds by saying that it’s best to not think about it. In contrast, Neil pushes Christy’s faith and beliefs, asking her why she believes what she does. Insisting that she not offer parroted responses for her faith but that she think for herself:

“Let it pour out, Christy. I don’t blame you. But this is the real you talking now, not some character you’re trying to be. You have fire in you, and I like fire in a woman.” -Neil

Another scene that so perfectly displays their  relational openness is a section where Neil gives Christy a ride back to the mission:

Doctor: “I’ve known a few girls in my life, Christy, but I don’t believe I’ve ever met one as stubborn and as know-it-all as you are.” Christy: “‘Thank you. I was just thinking the same nice thoughts about you.’ The doctor chuckled.”

  • Rebounds Abound: It’s been argued that Christy was just Neil’s rebound after his wife and child dying for typhoid three years previous. But I argue that Christy is Davids’s rebound after having his quarter-life crisis. His proposal was offered in the midst of his doubting his occupation of being a pastor, one that his mother pressured him into. Furthermore, the reason we don’t really know the Doctor is in love with Christy is that he fights it. He doesn’t want to be in ‘love’ again because he recognizes that he doesn’t really know what love is. This stems from his previous marriage being a relational disaster, mostly because of Margret’s very demanding and spoiled nature, a flew her mother admits to fueling. But towards the end of the book he realizes as he prays to God:

“I still don’t understand anything–except that somehow I know you are love. And that in my heart has been born so great a love for Christy as I did not know could exist on the earth. You, God, must be responsible.” -Neil, Praying at Christy’s Death Bed

By contrast, we see that David isn’t capable of loving Christy, and she knows it:

“Oh, David, what’s wrong? Why can’t you receive love? I’m afraid to admit it even to myself, but you don’t love me… You only want me in your arms, with my body against yours.” – Christy, To Herself

These are some of the most powerful instances I saw of Christy and Dr. MacNeill’s love being true and lasting. Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

 

10 comments on this post

  1. Amanda
    January 26, 2018

    I was confused with his sudden confession of love. But that totally makes sense now.

    Reply
    • noelbranham
      January 26, 2018

      Yes! I agree that it was somewhat sudden. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Movieladywithlove
    January 26, 2018

    I haven’t read the book just watched the TV series but I think it follows what you are saying pretty much. I came here trying to find out who she picks. Does Christy pick Dr. MacNeill in the end? I want spoilers!!!

    Reply
    • Andrea
      January 26, 2018

      It’s implied that she ends up with Doc MacNeill

      Reply
    • noelbranham
      January 26, 2018

      This is a book based on the author’s grandmother. In real life, her grandmother married the preacher. It is implied that she ends up with the Doctor in the book! 🙂

      Reply
  3. LeeAnna
    January 26, 2018

    I totally thought Christy was going to die like his wife!!!

    Reply
    • noelbranham
      January 26, 2018

      I would have been heartbroken if that happened! 🙁

      Reply
  4. Love_is_Everythin
    January 26, 2018

    🙂

    Reply
  5. Ariana
    January 26, 2018

    I LOVED this book!!!!!!! I’m so glad you wrote this because they fell in love so quickly I wasn’t sure what was happening!

    Reply
  6. Emily R.
    January 26, 2018

    Well I thought David was a jerk from the start. But the doc didn’t seem that much better. The whole dance scene/putting the bride to be creeped me out. I understand that is part of the culture though.

    Reply

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