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CJINCA
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)


Sunltcloud wrote:

 

I agree about it being harder to see the real villains today. I am reminded that more isn't necessarily better when it comes to information. Just being able to watch 100 channels of television certainly doesn't give me the truth. Political analysis is frequently biased. Blogs add a lot of personal opinion. Surfing the net, looking at various newspapers from different countries opens the eyes, but doesn't always translate into a clearer picture. Travel certainly contributes to understanding other countries, if for no other reason than that it makes the citizens human. Sometimes remembering history helps. If I look at the variety of problems in Africa or the war between India and Pakistan, I am confused, but if I look at old maps, read European history, delve into the psychological damage of colonialism, I understand at least some of it. I worry though, about the effects of modern technology. The time required to seek truth increases, but tweets and texting reduce reality to a kind of shorthand. Are sound bites and 140 character explanations conducive to a peaceful coexistence of peoples?

freelamp wrote:

I so agree with your statements about viewpoints.  I was in Germany and Austria this spring and have also visited the Channel Islands and England.  There are spirits in the air around all the World War sights and a feeling of calm sadness for what occurred.  In reading "The Postmistress" I believe the impact of the war is felt immediately.  Sarah's statement, "And all of you are young these days" seems to bring in the current wars as well.   I think it is harder to see the real villians today.


Well, I was trying to frame an optimistic reply about today's technology, one positive example being this board.   (The conversations among people with such diverse backgrounds and viewpoints has terrifically enriched the FL experience since I have been participating.)  Another example might be Twitter and other social networking sites after the elections in Iran.

 

But, as I thought about it, the use of technology and how we use it depends so much on our cultural character.  So, failure to appreciate history, ignorance of international current events, unwillingness to travel or to interconnect with different kinds of people -- well, this is not a technology problem but technology can make it worse FASTER and LOUDER than ever before.

 

Where there is a cultural preference for education and information-sharing and interconnection, well that can also be done a lot faster and better now that we have these technologies.  It is up to us to decide what to do with these gifts -- whether that is optimistic, or terrifying, I am not sure.

 

-- C.

 


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Cobalt-blue4
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎09-01-2009

Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

What a great line and rather funny!  Mrs. Cripps, otherwise known as the town gossip, is an EVENT within herself. She has the latest news and entertainment on all of the locals. What she doesn't know, she will keep asking until she finds out. The day she was a 'striped tent' (she's large, so I am imagining a 'tent dress'), she found her entertainment to gossip about with other interested town folk. Iris hung a world map on the post office wall covering the Most-Wanted sign because she wanted to see the countries at war and where the 'boys' would be sent off to. Mrs. Cripps was in disbelief how Iris could be ballsy enough to hang the poster, cover the criminals, and say that the boys will be sent off to war. Now, Mrs. Cripps is a tent WITH an occasion. She can entertain the locals about her experience in the post office.

 

 

 

I find it interesting to speculate on author-specific language. Descriptions, metaphors, similes intrigue me, because, unless they are cliches, they indicate something of the author's thought process. And sometimes I have no idea what they are supposed to mean. For instance, on page 44: "Mrs. Cripps stood like a striped tent without an occasion, studying the scene before her." What does the simile mean? What does a tent without an occasion look like?
I think this is a reference to either a circus tent or a marquee such as those used for weddings. Mrs Cripps is dressed up, presumably in a striped dress but has nowhere to go, as it were, just like an empty circus tent or marquee.    

 

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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

I never meant to belittle modern technology. I am immensely benefitting from it and often wish that my mother would have been able to participate in our conversations. She wrote short stories and essays and painted and spent many hours researching subjects at the library, often copying words by hand from books that were not to be taken out of the room. Even when her body ached under the effects of arthritis and the winter snow blew in her face, she braved the outdoors to march toward the library, the local university, the museum. Toward the end of her life she seemed to live only  to educate herself, spending nights writing and days taking care of my step-father who was fifteen years her senior.
Sometimes, when I sit at my computer at two or three in the morning, not willing to give up my time to sleep, I think about her. I imagine how we could have exchanged ideas daily, how we could have seen each other through skype, how we each separately and yet together could have discovered each new phase of technological advances. I imagine a mother-daughter blog across the ocean, a collection of thoughts left behind when the lights are turned off.
So, oh no, I don't mean to insult those who give us new perspectives; I love change and try new applications when they come my way.  What I object to is the careless use of soundbites and the frivolous daily banter that seems to clutter my world.  As for Twitter, do I really want to know why a movie star reached a certain number of tweets before a news channel did? When I friend somebody, do I care if she has just eaten scrambled eggs for breakfast? I find it hilarious to work on my netbook on a bus or train and the two people who sit behind me are engaged in two separate loud conversations on their cells. They came together; why are they not talking to each other? Oh, I must not forget the two young girls who almost ran into each other because they were texting their arrival to each other  Or the father next to me, on the bus, who patiently pointed to his GPS, explaining to his small son the buildings we were passing. Neither he nor the child looked out the window to acknowlege the actual landscape.
I laugh about these things most of the time, hoping that in spite of it all young minds are taught to think. Outsmarting a teacher by hiding the blackberry during an exam is not my idea of a successful education. Realizing that my own education has failed me on occasion, even though it was a labor of love, I want the next generation to be successful, want the next generation to learn what I didn't. I want them to take advantage of technology to the benefit of a global society. I guess I want everybody to become a Greg Mortenson building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan

CJINCA wrote:

Sunltcloud wrote:

 

I agree about it being harder to see the real villains today. I am reminded that more isn't necessarily better when it comes to information. Just being able to watch 100 channels of television certainly doesn't give me the truth. Political analysis is frequently biased. Blogs add a lot of personal opinion. Surfing the net, looking at various newspapers from different countries opens the eyes, but doesn't always translate into a clearer picture. Travel certainly contributes to understanding other countries, if for no other reason than that it makes the citizens human. Sometimes remembering history helps. If I look at the variety of problems in Africa or the war between India and Pakistan, I am confused, but if I look at old maps, read European history, delve into the psychological damage of colonialism, I understand at least some of it. I worry though, about the effects of modern technology. The time required to seek truth increases, but tweets and texting reduce reality to a kind of shorthand. Are sound bites and 140 character explanations conducive to a peaceful coexistence of peoples?

freelamp wrote:

I so agree with your statements about viewpoints.  I was in Germany and Austria this spring and have also visited the Channel Islands and England.  There are spirits in the air around all the World War sights and a feeling of calm sadness for what occurred.  In reading "The Postmistress" I believe the impact of the war is felt immediately.  Sarah's statement, "And all of you are young these days" seems to bring in the current wars as well.   I think it is harder to see the real villians today.


Well, I was trying to frame an optimistic reply about today's technology, one positive example being this board.   (The conversations among people with such diverse backgrounds and viewpoints has terrifically enriched the FL experience since I have been participating.)  Another example might be Twitter and other social networking sites after the elections in Iran.

 

But, as I thought about it, the use of technology and how we use it depends so much on our cultural character.  So, failure to appreciate history, ignorance of international current events, unwillingness to travel or to interconnect with different kinds of people -- well, this is not a technology problem but technology can make it worse FASTER and LOUDER than ever before.

 

Where there is a cultural preference for education and information-sharing and interconnection, well that can also be done a lot faster and better now that we have these technologies.  It is up to us to decide what to do with these gifts -- whether that is optimistic, or terrifying, I am not sure.

 

-- C.

 



 

 

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Cobalt-blue4
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

 

To some, the impact of war feels real when a person becomes emotionally involved. For instance, I grew up in NJ. Instead of living and/or working in NYC with many of my classmates and family members, I move to the Midwest. On 9.11, I was so distraught and too upset to continue my work day because I knew people who worked in the trade towers. My breaks were spent on the phone calling anyone who would know the whereabouts of friends and loved ones.

 

Meanwhile, back in the Midwest, the 'boss' told us not too discuss the events of the day with our students and to go on with our day as normal. It was too difficult to fight back my tears and sadness. Furthermore, my coworkers went along their business after watching the news and having some short conversation with others. My emotions were quit different from the Midwesterners who had no ties to the east coast and who were able to carry on their day as normal. 

 

Yes...I am listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will. As with them, I, too, was taken by the Billy story. I was so sad for Billy and got even sadder imagining his own pain. I didn't expect Harriet to die. One minute Frankie and Harriet are together and moments later, she is gone. 

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freelamp
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I also worry about how modern technology will affect history.  Lots of blogs and tweets do not mean more real information is coming out quicker.   The element of truth is now very hazy because people say anything and everything to be noticed.  The process of doing research to find the truth is thought of as an annoyance.  During any War Years, the truth is usually hidden or camouflaged and propaganda wins overall.  This hasn't changed through the centuries but the mode of transmission has changed drastically.  In our book, using the radio broadcasts alerts us to events the characters will respond to.  Pictures were formed in the mind or in a single journalistic photo.  The gruesome details were left out.  Now our eyes don't have to be open to see the horrors.  Peaceful coexistence on our fragile planet doesn't seem possible where words are causing so many inflammatory consequences. 

freelamp
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biljounc63
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I too found that there are a lot of characters introduced in the early chapters. That along with the duel settings of here and London I am still trying to get a handle on the who's who. I may have to go back and review the earlier chapters to get the characters clearer to me.

Time and place is a big part of this book and how it differs from today.  I noticed from the start the amount of smoking the characters do at a time before smoking was the big taboo it is today. I could also picture the old fashioned Doctors office in the opening scene of the book.

 

Today everything is instantaneous we have to wait for nothing if we want to find almost anything out all we have to do is "Google it" and there it is.

I think the the war may feel may feel more real back then when the only information came from the radio or the newspaper so you could not see the war. All the video we get today makes it out to be more a video game rather than having to imagine what it must be like across the pond.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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RNData_GK
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The first time that war became real to me in the book was in Chapter 4 when Frankie dove into an underground shelter after running and seeking shelter from the multitude of bombs falling all around her. This was also the chapter where Billy lost his mom. This hit me personally and made me think of how sudden death or separation from a loved one during war could occur. I thought of my own boys, ages 7 and 3, and how they would react if they found themselves in Billy's situation.

 

Iris James acknowledged the reality of war when she tacked up a large world map, covering the Most Wanted photos. I like how she responded to Mrs. Cripps' inquiry about the need for a map, "If we are going to war, then we'd better know where the boys are going".

 

I truly felt for Emma when Will left for London. She already lost her parents years ago, and now she's losing her husband as well. I like the last paragraph on p. 71 "But here--she sighed--out there and upstairs, there was nothing of hers. She felt for the first time in her life the danger of other people's things--how they might erase her if she weren't careful". This paragraph also describes her reaction to Frankie's report of the boy who lost his mother in the Blitz. I think this is one of the first moments when the war became real to Emma.

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Mommy-Read-Write
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I am German and I went to Guernsey in the Channel Islands in October of 2008 with just such an idea in my head. It was hard, at first, to view my own country's occupation history of this beautiful island close-up in bunkers, museums, personal accounts, and discussions. It was, I suppose, a lesson in humility. But it also was a reaffirmation of my belief in the basic necessity of global peace. It brought home the truth of Martha Gellhorn's words, "War happens to people one by one."

 

To answer one of the moderator's questions, "When does the impact of war begin to feel real to us as readers?" War has felt real to me since the age of four when my mother moved me from a northern German city that was bombed almost nightly, to my grandmother's house in the Black Forest. It is impossible to forget the sirens, the deprivation, the fear in the adults' faces.

 

Now that I've caught up in reading the chapters and answering the initial questions - I am going back to read what many of you think of the book.  Sunitcloud - Thank you for sharing your personal experience.  I wondered if anyone who had lived through this era in time would be reading the book.  I also found myself wondering how it may affect you. 

 

Whie I was in college I was a nanny for a Jewish family.  The great-grandmother had written her memoir and I aksed if I might be allowed to read it.  The family was more than happy to let me do so.  And I'll tell you - I have never cried so much while reading any other thing in my life! This woman - who, thorugh her own words, was just a 'regular woman' raising her family - was forced to take her tiny daughter and flee the Nazi's while her husband and sons stayed behind.  This entire section of her memoir described what she and her daughter went through; all while not knowing what had happened to her husband and sons.  It was heart-wrenching.  Then she discussed what it was like to cross the Atlantic to America and have to start life all over again.  And here I was - taking care of her great grand children three generations later! I'm telling this story to illustrate - that even many of us that were not around during WW2 - have still been touched by it in one way or another.  In my opinion it is a tragic time in history but there are also many, many stories of strength and perseverance.

 

I look forward to reading more of this amazing book.  I also look forward to reading more of the wonderful opinions and stories from others on this board.

 

 

Sheery

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
~ Emilie Buchwald ~
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kitkat2230
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I think the impact of the war began to feel real to me is when Frankie went to the Antiaircraft Gunnery station to observe the men shooting at the planes.

 

I think the war felt real to Frankie when she decided to go to London to inform the American people about the war. I think the war started to feel real to Emma when Will decided to go to London to help out. In my opinion he's running away. I think he probably feels distant because of what happened to Maggie and feels like it's his falt. I'm not sure that Iris has the feeling that the war is that "real" to her. I think she thinks that it doesn't effect her as much because the war is somewhere else.

 

I feel that the town of Franklin is like one of those small towns in the middle of nowhere, where nothing big happens. I don't think they are really preparing for the war. I think that the people of Franklin believe that the U.S. won't be going to war, so they don't pay to much attention to it.

 

Katie

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AnnJE
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : Setting the Scene.

Great links, Choisya. Thanks! They really add to the reading of this book.
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mandyfish
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

 

 "When does the impact of war begin to feel real to us as readers?"

 


Reading through the inspiring posts from everyone who seem to have instantly connected with the characters and been able to readily identify with and /or have strong feelings towards the atrocities of the war make me feel broken.  I know very little about the war. What I do know I'm sure comes from public education and general soundbites about the most horrible events.  Maybe I've spent too much time having history pushed at me in story form, but this one just isn't working for me. I don't have any emotional connection to the war acts that are being depicted in the story. It's very hard for me to care about the characters , and what they are going through, at all. This is sad for me as I do like the characters and how they interact with their surroundings....I just can't bring myself to worry about them, sympathize with them, or anything else when it is dependent upon the set and war descriptions.

 

 

I really want to like this book. I do enjoy the characters, but this disconnect I'm experiencing with the setting is pushing me towards not wanting to finish. (I will though because I almost never just walk away from a book.)

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Peppermill
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

Dsaff wrote [excerpt]:   One of my favorite passages is on page 67. "This is how a war knocks down the regular, steady life we set up against the wolf at the door. Because the wolf is not hunger, it is accident--the horrid, fatal mistake of turning left to go to the nearer tube station, rather than right to make the long way around." If Frankie had gone home.......

 

This passage reminded me so much of 9/11  (one friend says her life may have been saved by the time it took her to make a decision about breakfast that morning) or about the recent bombings in London and elsewhere associated with subways and trains.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

[ Edited ]

 


maude40 wrote:

I love this quote on page 38 .

That was it , wasn't it? The nothing between. That scant air between the couple kissing this evening: their bodies leaning against each other before going underground was the same air between the gunners and the bombs, and it was the same air that carried her voice across the sea, on sound waves, to people listening in their chairs at home."

What  a great way to show  the unity between those at home and those fighting on the front. Yvonne

 


 

Was it air and sound waves that carried the news across the Atlantic, or was it really transatlantic cables?  Is the author using a metaphor or has she done her research and is also technically correct?

 

PS -- can't tell for certain from this timeline; it looks as if sound might have been relayed from UK to Newfoundland.  But, cable would also have been in place.

 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Zia01
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

The book's epigraph states that "War happens to people one by one." When does the impact of the war begin to feel real to us as readers? Are we listening to Frankie's broadcasts along with Emma and Will? Did one war story from these early chapters move you more than the others?

It became real to me personally when Frankie was in the shelter and the bombs were dropping all around her. The radio reports, in the beginning, seemed to make me feel seperate from what was happening across the ocean.

 

When does the war feel "real" to each of the characters?

I don't know when it becomes real for all of them yet. But I think it did for Emma when she heard the radio report about the little boy and then becomes even more so when Will decides to put himself in the middle of it. For Frankie she knows it's there but I think until the bombs fall around her it doesn't really impact her even though she is reporting it.

 

 What is the town of Franklin like? How does the town seem to be preparing or not preparing for war?

Franklin seems like a small coastal tourist town and I'm not sure they're feeling the effect of the war just yet, except for Harry, he seems a little nervous about the flag flying so high.

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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006

Re: Harry and the U-boats.

 

Franklin as a town seems aware there is a war in Europe but it does not seem to be their war. 
I thought it was interesting that only Harry seemed to be aware that U-boats had attacked Cape Cod during WWI and that only he realised, or cared, that this could happen again, especially as the U-boats of WWII had a much longer range and more deadly weapons than those of WWI.



BookBobBP wrote:

Franklin as a town seems aware there is a war in Europe but it does not seem to be their war.   I think as a reader the more the people listen to Frankie's broadcast the more they get drawn into it.  I think of the one part in the book were Emma is listening to the story of the boy losing his mother and just wants to do something about it but can not.  I found it interesting the Will when he decides to go to London uses Emma's feelings for the boy to justify his leaving to help.


 

 

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pen21
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)-Iris' Thought

That thought has crossed my mind several times as I read the first section.

That is a good quote that sums up what I know about Iris so far.

It will be interesting to see what causes her to not deliver a piece of mail.

pen21

 


Fozzie wrote:

I was struck by what Iris says to Harry Vale on page 76, as he again brings up wanting to reduce the height of the flagpole, but Iris is waiting to hear from the post office inspector:

 

“We can’t allow ourselves to take things into our own hands like that.”

 

If we assume, based on the introduction, that Iris is the postmistress who will eventually not deliver the mail, I can’t help but wonder what makes her change her attitude.  Choosing not to deliver the mail is very much taking things into her own hands.


 

 

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quiltedturtle1
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I think the author has done a good job in these chapters of showing us how the war is personal to different characters in the book through her use of the radio and Frankie's broadcasts. We see how it affects each of the characters as they listen to her. Frankie ties them all together and she also gives us a look at what is going on in England.

 

As I read the first chapters, the story caught me and I could not wait to see what happened. The death of Maggie was heart wrenching.  It is interesting that Will is leaving Emma after being married such a short time. I questioned early in the book why she was coming to town alone on the bus when they had been married only 2 weeks before.

 

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maude40
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8) : Setting the Scene.

Thank you , Choisya, for the links you provided especially the one on UTube about Britain at War. The images are so sad. I couldn't help but think how so very blessed we have been in the U.S  to not have our cities bombed in war. War is so devastating and to read in Ms Blake's book about how the people tried to go about their lives no matter the havoc being being forced on them broke my heart. I'm grateful everyday for living where I do. Yvonne

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no4daughter
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)

I just have a few thoughts before I begin (can't wait to) reading the next set of chapters.

 

I thought it was very interesting that Emma, as an orphan, was so concerned about Billy when they listened to Frankie's broadcast that she spoke to her husband about what they could do for him.  Later, when Will tells her of his plans to go to London, she seems to have completely forgotten about Billy.  When Will initially discussed going to London, he spoke of all that "we" can do for Billy, but when Emma did not seem to remember the boy, Will began speaking of how all "he" could do if he travelled to London.

 

As I began to read about the town of Franklin, I thought that, given it's location on the atlantic coast, that the townspeople would be more concerned about the war than someone who lived in a location like Iowa would be.  That does not seem to be the case at this point.  I am anxious to begin the next section to see if this has changed over the passage of the year between fall 1940 and winter 1941.  

 

I am really enjoying the book so far.   

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Thayer
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Re: Early Chapters, Fall, 1940 (1-8)


JaneM wrote:

I think the impact of the war to me, as the reader, began with Frankie's participation at the Gunner's Battery as she observes the chaos of shelling and the return fire of the guns.  Prior mentions of the war just don't have the immediacy that is evident with the intensity of this scene.  It is at this moment that I feel Frankie has moved beyond observing and reporting to participating in the war.  To Emma the war becomes real when she hears Frankie's story of the orphaned boy.  She is ready to commit to the cause at that point.  Of course Harry feels the war much sooner as he asks Iris to lower the flag.  In this first section I think the war has not become real to Iris even though she has tacked up a map to track where the boys are (p. 44).  I still feel she is an observer to an external event.

 

 


Jane,

 

I agree with you. Frankie comments that when she is with the gunners, "there is nothing between you and the war."

~~Dawn
Live the life you love ~ Love the life you live.