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Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Characters

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Iris thinks Emma is ashamed of exposing her underwear when her suitcase breaks open, but Emma says she's not the least bit ashamed. Why does Emma come close to tears in this scene?

twj wrote:

I think perhaps Emma wanted to make kind of a sophisticated, grand entrance into town as the doctor's bride. She was a bit nervous; she didn't see him at first and she wanted to make a good impression since she knew the town would surely notice her arrival. Instead of happily descending the stairs into his waiting arms, as if it was simply the most ordinary thing to do, she finds that there is a scene because her suitcase is lying open with her underwear all askew. I don't think the underwear unsettled her at all. It was rather arriving without the grace she had hoped for.

Iris, on the other hand, would have been mortified to find her underwear exposed like that so she believes all women would feel the same way. To Iris, underwear is very private.

Perhaps Emma breaks into tears from the sheer anxiety of her trip, her arrival, and the mishap. Perhaps the open suitcase signifies the opening act of the rest of her life. Life is full of uncertainties and mishaps.

 

Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Characters


fronkster wrote:

I would have to say that right now Emma is my favorite character. She seems the most human to me. It's taken me awhile to start liking Frankie. There is something weird about her I can't get.

Will has suprised me the most. I get the death was hard but why run away from it? And from your new wife? Did he not have any regard for her feelings. It wasn't all about him.


 

Emma is the only one I am really liking so far of the main characters too. I like Otto, but he is just a side character. Will is whiny and not good for his word, Iris is odd but nice. Frankie puts me off for some reason. Her emotions seem to be surface and while she seems to care about causes, she's not personal about any of it.

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margotjj
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎09-02-2009
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Re: Characters

I find that the "casual sex" didn't bother me. I've read non fiction stories of people in situations where sometimes dealing with the horrors is easier through such casual acts, for some it makes them feel something other then pain or human for lack of a better word.

 

I relate allot to Emma. Her past trauma's shape her to watch the world from a view not everyone sees. I think it so far has made her more compassionate to the "human" condition even when it hurts her emotionally.

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timetravel
Posts: 97
Registered: ‎03-31-2009
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Re: Characters

The certificate of virginity was a puzzle to me until I finished the book and thought about the character.  As the postmaster she is very orderly and precise.  I see the certificate as something she thought was the proper and precise thing to do.  I think Harry was embarrassed when presented with it, but I also think that he treasured it.

 

I never warmed to the character of Frankie, although she seemed tough and went through a great deal.  She seemed not to be able to grasp what was going on.  I think Emma was my favorite character, especially when she was seen walking down the street with her shoulders back and head high.

Frequent Contributor
EiLvReedn
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎05-25-2007

Re: Characters

Iris I'm not sure I like much, she seems driven and not too friendly.

Emma is trying to hard and just seems like a sweet kid who is setting herself up for a world of hurt.

I kinda like shy Harry.

 I also like Frankie. It's actually that portion of the story I find more interesting at this point because she is right in the thick of things as far as the war goes. I always heard the term" the blitz "but until I read her portion of the story on the bombings I guess I didn't realize it lasted so long and what the people actually went through.  

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lmpmn
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎11-08-2006

Re: Characters--No Spoilers in this post!

I've stayed on schedule so I won't reveal anything past chapter 8!

 

The character of Marnie Niles describes Emma as weak on pg. 71 and talks about Emma with disgust in her voice.  I think at this point in her life she feels kind of lost and anonymous (at one point she's thinking to herself that she doesn't want to be "erased").  I do have a feeling, however, that she will change immensely throughout the book and become a strong woman.

 

As far as Iris goes, I think she's a little "fruity" as my sister put it so well!  Maybe back then having your virginity intact meant so much more at the time of your wedding than it does today, but even the OB/GYN seemed a little taken aback by her request.  I think she also likes being in control and having power.  I say this because of the descriptions of her working in the post office, especially the last paragraph on pg. 76 ending on the top of pg. 77.

Happiness is a warm blanket!
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tree_lover
Posts: 158
Registered: ‎09-08-2009
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Re: Characters

The character I like is Frankie.  She is independent and determined.  She goes after what she wants.  She is compassionate enough to want to let the world know what is going on through this war.  She may seems a little heartless to some but she is the type of character who can get the job done and get the word out.  She is the one who invoked emotion in Will and Emma.  I can't wait to read what eventually happens to her character.

http://nygirltrustnoone.blogspot.com/
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emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008

Re: Characters

I do feel that I have a better understanding of each character and the decisions they make after learning their backgrounds. Will is so afraid that he will follow in is fathers footsteps that he is unsure of himself and his actions. Emma is afraid that she will lose Will because of the loss of her parents.  Our pasts often have an impact on how we deal with situations in our futures.

 

Emma was close to tears because Iris was taking such great care with her under clothes and being helpful to her.

 

Iris and Emma take their relationships very seriously and they each take great care in preserving them. So far, Frankie does not seem interested in a long term relationship.

 

I really respect Iris and the pride that she has in her virginity. She obviously cares about herself and she wants to show Henry that she is pure and was saving herself for love. Harry seemed very pleased that she was a virgin and I think that he respects her even more.

 

I really like Emma and Iris so far. I hope that they become friends in this story. They are both very strong women who are very caring.

 

Will really surprised me a little. I was not expecting him to leave, even if it was to help. He left  Emma so soon after she moved to town to be with him and he left the town without a doctor.  Frankie surprised me a little. I was not expecting her to have sex with a stranger outside of the pub in front of people.

 

 

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emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Characters

phenomshel wrote:


was annoyed at Will for leaving his new wife too, but I realize that 1941 was a different time, and women's feelings and responses weren't taken to be as important then as they are now.  Emma seems to be a very modest person,  I myself wouldn't really want my underwear scattered all over the street, especially not the frilly, lacy things of a new bride. Not to mention I wouldn't want them on a dirty street to have to be re-laundered, and at that time, laundry was a lot harder chore than it is now!   I don't know how much of Emma's reply that she wasn't ashamed was bravado, and how much was truth, but I definitely wouldn't want my suitcase spilling it's contents on the ground to be the first impression my new neighbors had of me!

 I was also shocked at the portrayal of women's casual sex, because I felt it didn't fit with the time - but then, war changes everything.   I have heard contemporaries of my parents say that when you don't know if you will live through the night, the conventions take a back seat, and maybe that's what the author was trying to portray there.  I've also heard it said that when death is all around you,  sex makes you realize that you are still alive.  So again, maybe that was a part of that scene too. 


I like your thoughts on this subject!

 

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emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008

Re: Characters

 


liisa22 wrote:



pattycakeMN wrote:

I was REALLY surprised by Frankie's casual sex outside the Savoy Hotel bar, especially when the man whom she didn't even know the name of "zipped himself back into his trousers".  Having been born in 1945 and growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, such casual sex wasn't usually talked about.

 

Patricia


I was quite surprised by this as well!!  


Me too!


I was very surprised by this too. I was never expecting that to happen!

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CJINCA
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
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Re: Characters


Rachel-K wrote:

 

Why is the certificate of virginity so important to Iris? What does it tell us about her? What is Harry's response to it?

 

Do you have a favorite character so far? Who, and why? Have any of the characters surprised you by the end of this first section?

 


Well, this was definitely a unique introduction to the book and to the character of Iris...I thought Harry's response to the Presentation of the Certificate was very sweet, and on the way home he keeps the paper "inside his coat pocket where the certificate rested against his heart, and walked the rest of the way into town with his hand loose upon the paper."  (p96)  Harry has a very good understanding of Iris, and he seems kind here, and a bit of an old romantic.

 

I think Iris is my favorite character so far, with Harry a close second.  Iris reminds me of Olive Kitteredge.  Iris was certainly surprising at the BEGINNING of this section, she continues to be pretty forthright and extremely, even fearlessly, practical.  Harry seems to be likewise practical, he's very down-to-earth.  He treats Otto with a kindness and patience that few (besides Iris) seem to want to afford to a foreigner.

 

-- C.

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Sarah79
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Registered: ‎09-02-2009
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Re: Characters

[ Edited ]

dhaupt wrote:

How do these characters' backgrounds shape our impressions of them and their actions in the story? Do you feel you have a deeper understanding of particular decisions they make?

I don't think it's background as much as situations that shape these characters lives, the characters in the US are just how our parents or grandparents lived, mostly virtuously and hard working, where as the characters in England acted just as I would expect someone who doesn't know if they'll see tomorrow act, with fear and with a thirst for life that unequals that of people who haven't experienced war.

 

Were you surprised at all to find casual sex treated--so casually--in a novel set in the 40s?

I was not surprised, it was as I expected a war ravaged people to act like, like tomorrow may not come.

 

Why is the certificate of virginity so important to Iris? What does it tell us about her? What is Harry's response to it?

Iris and Harry are very much a product of their times, Iris as an unmarried women thinks that her purity would be important to Harry and Harry explains his thought very good on page 98 when he says, "I'm an old broken-down man you know, not a catch at all".

 

Do you have a favorite character so far? Who, and why?

I don't have a favorite character, but I'm leaning toward Frankie because she seems so much a fish out of water and she's coping better then I think any of the other characters would except maybe Iris.

 

Have any of the characters surprised you by the end of this first section?

Not so much surprised but disappointed in and that is Will, first he should have followed his instincts about Maggie and either taken her to the hospital or contacted the retired doctor and then to run a way under the guise of helping in England I was very disappointed.


 

I agree with you completely, Debbie. The only exception would be which characters I favor at this point. I admire Frankie profoundly for being a wartime female reporter and for being driven to draw attention to these atrocities. But I am also very drawn to Will and Emma. I feel sympathetic for them both.

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maryfrancesa
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
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Re: Characters

Iris 's belief was alittle crazy.  Did man really want a certificate of being a virgin.  and how did she know that Harry was intetrested in her l;ike that  .  I was shocked about in England how casual sex was and how everyone did it in the bunkers.  Here I thougt the 60's was free love but not necessary in the 40's.  i can see why sex may be casual if the bombs are dropping and you do not know if you will be alive in the morning

Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,827
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Characters

You know I'm having a small problem with the label "casual sex". I really don't think it could be called that here, these people aren't at a concert in the fields of Woodstock, they are skirting bombs and shrapnel and collapsing buildings, they've sent their children to the country and don't know if they'll ever see them again. I would call it more life affirming sex than casual sex, just proof that they're still alive to face another day.

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Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007

Re: Characters

I don't think "casual sex" is a new phenomenon. It certainly predates London in the 1940's. In fact, I'm fairly certain it predates London...

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,827
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Characters

[ Edited ]

 


PaulH wrote:

I don't think "casual sex" is a new phenomenon. It certainly predates London in the 1940's. In fact, I'm fairly certain it predates London...


 

smart alec :womanvery-happy:

 

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Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
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Re: Characters

 

:smileywink:

dhaupt wrote:

 


PaulH wrote:

I don't think "casual sex" is a new phenomenon. It certainly predates London in the 1940's. In fact, I'm fairly certain it predates London...


 

smart alec :womanvery-happy:

 


 

 

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nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
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Re: Characters

I was also very surprised by Frankie's casual sex. I suppose it was part of the war mentality. If you didn't do it today, you might not be there to do it tomorrow. I think for all the characters, with the possible exception of Emma, sex seemed to play a bigger part in their relationships with men than love. That rather surprised me. Iris wanted to present a clean slate for Henry, but I never got the feeling that it was driven by love, rather it was driven by her need to have things perfect. 

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JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008

Re: Characters

I agree with you that it was life affirming sex, and I did not find it surprising at all.


dhaupt wrote:

You know I'm having a small problem with the label "casual sex". I really don't think it could be called that here, these people aren't at a concert in the fields of Woodstock, they are skirting bombs and shrapnel and collapsing buildings, they've sent their children to the country and don't know if they'll ever see them again. I would call it more life affirming sex than casual sex, just proof that they're still alive to face another day.


 

Jane M.
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JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008

Re: Characters

I like your assessment of Iris and Harry.  Iris is my favorite character in that she is full of contradictions.  She finds a "rightness" in order, almost to the point of obsession, and yet she is human enough to have had such a strong reaction to the movie she saw when one soldier is left alone at the end by making the wrong choice.  I think Iris fears being alone as well, and that is why her slowly building relationship to Harry is so positive.  And Harry is a gentle giant - thoughtful, caring about the town, the war,  and Iris.  I can't wait to see what happens to them as the story progresses.  I certainly hope they have a happy ending!

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 

At first I thought that Iris was just kind of backward and naive but then I discovered that although she was very reserved and proper she was also very capable and very brave. Here she is a single woman and she moves to a strange city, alone, to take a job in a traditionally male position, postmaster...today we call her postmistress but I wonder if she would have been called that back then.
She is probably the quintessential prude. She has rules for everything and is definitely a creature of rigid habit. She seems past her prime but she is content with her life and all she seems to need to make her life complete is Harry's love. She thinks she is getting signs that he feels affection for her so she takes herself off to a doctor who can attest to her purity so she can prove to him that she is worthy. I think she went because she liked everything in order and this was just one more problem she could solve by organizing it and filing it in the proper place.
If I had to describe her I would say that she was a bud, ready to flower with the proper nurturing. She just doesn't seem quite ripe yet. However, she was a lot stronger than I gave her credit for, at first.
I loved Harry. He made me think of a gentle giant. He is kind, soft-spoken, forgiving and so understanding. His understated reaction to the letter showed just how much respect he had for Iris and just how much he really cared. He would not ridicule her in any way since he truly appreciated her. He could understand that she went to the trouble of getting it because she cared for him too and I think that is all he cared about. They had found each other. Harry seemed to be the kind person who knew how to take the wind out of troubled sails with wonderfully appropriate reactions.
Rachel-K wrote:
Why is the certificate of virginity so important to Iris? What does it tell us about her? What is Harry's response to it?

 


 

Jane M.