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Rachel-K
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Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

[ Edited ]

Please use any of the following questions as a jumping off point to discuss the end of The Postmistress. Please remember that all spoilers are welcome in this thread!

 

"Get in. Get the story. Get out." That is Murrow's charge to Frankie. Does The Postmistress make you question whether it's possible to ever really get the whole story? Or to get out?

 

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose hob job was to deliver news, did she fail?

 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?

 

Why does Otto refuse to tell the townspeople that he's Jewish? Would you have?

 

Which character surprised you most in the course of the story, and why?

 

The novel deals with the last summer of "innocence" for the United States before it was drawn into the war, before many American's wanted to be involved, and before the US was attacked you see any modern day parallels? 

 

How do you think it would have changed your assessment of the characters if their attitudes and actions had been set after Pearl Harbor?

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DSaff
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

I loved the book and am so happy it was a First Look selection.

 

The ending really made me think. First, Frankie. Murrow charged her with "Get in. Get the story. Get out." because otherwise reporters weren't mearly telling the story but rather became part of it. They would stop being "objective." Frankie couldn't follow those instructions when it came to people affected by the war, especially the Jews. She began feeling the story and that made it difficult for her to not expect others to get involved. Is it hard to get the whole story? I think so, unless you become part of the story, and at that point, it becomes hard to get out.

 

The last letter that Will wrote to Emma should have been mailed right away. But, Frankie kept "forgetting" and pretty soon, it was too late. Will's death really affected Frankie and I think she had difficulty parting with the last piece of him, a memory. Then, after meeting Emma and seeing that she was pregnant, Frankie couldn't give it to her. Was she wrong? That is a tough call. Frankie felt for Emma, saw the love she had for Will and saw the hope she maintained for Will's return. Frankie couldn't take that from her. My heart says she should have told Emma about meeting him so that Emma would have known he talked about her. I would have left out the "vanishing" memory.

 

The letter Iris received created another dilemma. As Postmaster, Iris had a duty to not only leave the letter sealed, but also to deliver it. She was completely wrong to open the letter and then once opened, to fail in delivering it. I understand what she was feeling, but she didn't have the right to do what she did. In fact, it is a crime. The gap of time did give Emma more time in her pregnancy, more time for the baby to develop and hopefully be delivered heathly. But, the delay made it impossible for Emma to discover the truth and have his body returned home for a timely burial.

 

I liked Otto. His character really rounded out the story. I don't blame him for not telling the town's people he was Jewish. They were mean-spirited toward him as it was, and most didn't even seem to understand the horrible situation overseas. Most didn't WANT to know. He didn't want their cruelty nor their pity.

 

I was most surprised by Iris. When she opened the letter, she failed in her duty as Postmaster, something she held close to her heart. I didn't think she would do anything to break the trust folks had in her, but she did.

 

The only thing I will say about the parallels of the book to today (I see many) is that many people continue to hide their heads in the sand and ignore the atrocities around the world. People who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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Zia01
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

Will there be a final thoughts thread?

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dhaupt
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

[ Edited ]

"Get in. Get the story. Get out." That is Murrow's charge to Frankie. Does The Postmistress make you question whether it's possible to ever really get the whole story? Or to get out?

I don't think anyone can ever get "the whole story", because the people who make the stories and the people who report the stories are just that, people and we as the recipients of the stories do it under the influence of the tellers prejudices and interpretations.

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose hob job was to deliver news, did she fail?

Being in Europe changed Frankie and I think it gave her more humility than before and I think she, like Iris wanted to save Emma pain that wasn't necessary for "the story". I don't think she failed.

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?

If I was exactly the Iris in this story, no I wouldn't have given Emma the letter, why take away any hope that Emma had left, she knew in her head that Will had died, but in her heart she still had a glimpse of hope and why extinguish that if possible.

Why does Otto refuse to tell the townspeople that he's Jewish? Would you have?

For two reasons, one Otto wanted to be valued by who he was, a valuable member of Franklin's population, he didn't want to be pitied. And two Jews were persecuted here too just for how they believed, so by telling the people of his religion he was bound to be harassed as well.

Which character surprised you most in the course of the story, and why?

Emma was the character that surprised me the most, by the end of the book I found her to be stronger than she let on to be and I saluted her for it.

Frankie also surprised me when she got home from Europe and she showed us just fragile we are when faced with the situations that she was and it was obvious to me that she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, like a lot of our military do and did only then there wasn't a name for it.

The novel deals with the last summer of "innocence" for the United States before it was drawn into the war, before many American's wanted to be involved, and before the US was attacked you see any modern day parallels? 

9/11 and the prejudices that came from that against the Muslims in this country. How we were arrogant before the attacks by thinking it wasn't possible.

How do you think it would have changed your assessment of the characters if their attitudes and actions had been set after Pearl Harbor?

The attitude would have been different if it had been post Pearl Harbor, we would have been in the war and the citizens wouldn't have been as complacent and indifferent to it as in the summer of 41, plus a lot of our boys would have been "over there" .

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jenieliser
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

 

Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose hob job was to deliver news, did she fail?

It was personal with Emma. It wasn't trying to get the mass majority of people understand something, it was telling a woman that the person she loved, the father of her child, was dead. I don't think she failed. Delivering the news was her job-but it was different news she was telling. 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?

It's a tough choice, but I think I would have given her the letter. She could have been eased into a little more. But I suppose she already suspected somethign when she stopped getting letters. 

 

 

How do you think it would have changed your assessment of the characters if their attitudes and actions had been set after Pearl Harbor?

It would be hard to imagine them in such denial after Pearl Harbor. A lot of people in the book still felt the war so distant from them, after Pearl Harbor it would be surprising to think that way.

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ClaudiaLuce
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

Get in. Get the story. Get out." Murrow's charge to Frankie was given in order to keep her safe.  Unfortunately, she did not heed his advice and was turned away at the docks, losing site of the boy she wanted so desperately to keep by her side.  Until we heard from her again in New York, I was afraid for Frankie - not knowing what had happened to her - what a delightful bit of suspense that added to this wonderful story!  I was sure that she was going to have to stay in captured Europe!

 

I think that Frankie, whose job it was to deliver the news, was SO right in not telling Emma about Will's death, as was Iris.  Emma is portrayed as being very fragile and both of the very strong women in the book wanted to insure a successful outcome for Emma's pregnancy.  Emma suprised both of them by being stronger than she appeared when the telegram informing her of Will's death arrived.  Emma informed them all that she had read the signs, beginning with the arrival of the overalls, that Will was gone.  Therefore, she already knew and had accepted the fact. 

 

Otto did not let anyone in town know that he was Jewish because he already knew the stigma that being a Jew had attached to it.  He was correct in keeping this fact to himself.  Point in fact, the act of stone throwing by the boys that Frankie witnessed.  The townspeople never accepted Otto for himself, they knew he was an outsider, simply because of his accent.  They always called him a Kraut.  He never revealed himself because he felt that the townspeople would hate him even more for being Jewish, not accept him more!  He relished hearing the voices on Frankie's recordings because he thought that maybe if everyone heard what was really going on across Europe, people in America would start accepting the Jewish people and would come to their aid!  Was he right?  I don't think so, there is still such an underlying prejudice against the Jewish people - although it is suppressed. Especially in the South.

 

Would this story have had the same impact had it been set after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  No, because by that time, people had begun to become invested in the war and the events happening in Europe and the world.

 

This story would not have had the same impact had it been set in modern times.  Our world today is too jaded, with the news coming too quickly.  We don't pay enough attention to what is real and what is actually happening because we don't really know what is real and what is not!  Of course, that is the point that Sarah Blake was making all along!

 

 

 

 

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." -
-- Sir Richard Steele
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CJINCA
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

 


 

Rachel-K wrote:
Why wasn't Frankie able to deliver the letter or tell Emma about meeting Will? For Someone whose whose job was to deliver news, did she fail?

 

If you were Iris, would you have delivered the letter? Why or why not? What good, if any, grew up in the gap of time that Emma didn't know news? What did Emma lose by not knowing immediately?


I liked that the threads of the story (at least the women's threads) came together in Franklin, but I  think maybe there is something I am missing about these final chapters. 

 

I was disappointed that Frankie did not share with Emma what she knew about Will and how he truly was in London.  I don't think she needed to share her eyewitness account of his death, but to have been there and have that knowledge of his state of mind, how much he thought of Emma, and not to share that with his widow -- I don't understand that at all.  Maybe this is different for Frankie because it personally mattered to her listener, because it wasn't just "reportage" -- it would be a human conversation and not a one-way broadcast out to anonymous listeners.

 

I was surprised that Iris opened mail for Emma and decided not to send it.  This seemed very far out of character for Iris.  I thought there was a small motif of mail delivery (in Franklin and in Europe) as a stand-in for order -- Frankie in the post office in Europe, Frankie looking at the mass of people in transit and realizing that there is no way any of them can be found to receive the desparate letters people are sending -- so Iris's little betrayal here means, what?  It's good to have postal workers so concerned about us that they open our mail and make a personal judgment about our emotional ability to receive the news our letters contain?  How is this different/better than what the censors are doing?

 

I do not understand Frankie's and Iris's urge to protect Emma.  If she keeps getting buffered by everyone around her, I don't see how she can become a functioning, independent adult and parent.

 

-- C.

 

 

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MsReaderCP
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

If I were Iris, I would not have given Emma the letter yet either.  I would have wanted some kind of confirmation that Will was dead before i gave her a letter that was not supposed to be read until then.  She's pregnant and in a fragile state.  If Frankie would have told heer what happened immediately, then emma would have started to come to terms with it earlier, but How would she have dealt with it.  She was completely alone and not prepared to deal with it.  By Frankie and Iris both letting time go by Emma got to know Frankie a little better.  She starting focusing on the world outside around her rather than just on Emma and watching for Will to come home.  She became better prepared to deal with this tragedy. When iris finally gives her meaningful last letter to Emma, Will was able to know what Emma would have the hardest time with-- feeling left all alone-- and with Frankie and Iris there she doesn't feel all alone.

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ssizemore
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

This book ranks as one of my all-time favorites!  The characters seem so real to me and I found the whole premise very intriguing.  I found Frankie's reactions all together understandable.  She went to the field to report the news as she saw it (if the censors approved) and did her very best to do so.  However, as she became more aware of the tragedies around her and the actual occurrences, her inability to report it all nearly broke her.  The recordings of the stories of people who might or might not live through the war were so precious to her and they brought with them the mental pictures of those she had seem.  It became extremely personal to her.  Her encounter with Will brought more tragedy to her, yet she thought she could go back to Massachusetts and deliver the news to Emma.  When she got to the little town of Franklin, she was somewhat comforted by her surroundings, but was very troubled about the letter and the pain it would bring to deliver it.  Frankie decided that it would not do Emma any good to hear about the tragic accident that took Will's life.  She possibly thought that Emma might think she was involved with WIll in some way other than as a chance encounter.  Frankie's hard-core shell has been broken and she comes across in a very human way, grieving for the futility of war.

Certainly Otto didn't want anyone to know he was Jewish.  He was fearful that the same kind of thing might happen to him as was happening in Europe.  He decided to remain a mystery and so spent a great deal of time suffering alone.  I felt that in painting the house, he was "watching over" Emma and deriving some purpose from it.

The attack on Pearl Harbor certainly changed the American perspective on the war.  There was an isolationist policy in place before that, maybe as a result of the horrors of World War !. After Pearl Harbor, the American people felt threatened and were willing to take part in the war to save themselves from Hitler's onslaught, which could have reached American shores (as evidenced by the presence of the German U-boats on the coast of the US).  I still do believe, however, that part of the motivation was to HELP to free the rest of the world from the terrible stranglehold caused by Hitler's invasion.  For good or ill, it is part of the American character to try to help---I know my Dad and other relatives believed they were doing good for someone else as well as fighting for their own hearth and home.  Americans (and certainly more than Americans) had no idea of the consummate horrors of the concentration camps.  I truly believe that if that barbarism had been know, the response on the part of all nations would have been sooner.  Ask anyone who liberated those camps (if they will even talk about it, which few will)  what they found and their shock and despair over the event.  We seem to repeat history over and over again, don't we?

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DSaff
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Defining Quote

As I was reading the last section, I came upon this quote that I think defines the book in a beautiful way. I am interested in what others think as well.

 

"And the seed that had lain curled in Frankie's heart all this while unfurled. Petal after white petal opened slowly from her heart and started reaching up and out. Some stories don't get told. Some stories you hold on to. To stand and watch and hold it in your arms was not cowardice. To look straight at the beast and feel its breath on your flanks and not to turn -- one could carry the world that way." pg. 309

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
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dhaupt
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Re: Defining Quote

[ Edited ]

Donna, I had the same epiphany when I read that quote. And I felt that Frankie finally stopped feeling guilty for, well for being human.

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Wilson54
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Last Chapters

I was very sad at the end of the book.  I felt as though the end had nothing to do with the rest of the book.

 

I felt the characters did not stay true to themselves.

Frankie could have demonstrated her new found humanity by sharing her experience of Will's last evening in the shelter.

Iris was way out of character by opening the letter.

And, why did Harry have to die?

 

Carole
(wilson54)
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dhaupt
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Re: Last Chapters

 


Wilson54 wrote:

I was very sad at the end of the book.  I felt as though the end had nothing to do with the rest of the book.

 

I felt the characters did not stay true to themselves.

Frankie could have demonstrated her new found humanity by sharing her experience of Will's last evening in the shelter.

Iris was way out of character by opening the letter.

And, why did Harry have to die?

 


 

 

Carole, thanks for your opinion. I feel a little differently about it, let me explain. 

 

I don't think that Franklin and Emma especially would understand Will's attitude at the end so In my mind Frankie saved Emma's feelings by sparing her the last moments of Will's life.

And I think it was very in character for Iris to open the letter to Emma, she knew it wasn't official, but that it couldn't be good news either, because otherwise it would be from Will, and she had appointed herself to be the watchdog of the town.

But I do agree with you about Harry, it really upset me when Harry died, but it seemed like fate in this book always had the upper hand and not even Harry could avoid it.

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Sunltcloud
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Re: Last Chapters

[ Edited ]

iris was wrong in opening and withholding the letter to Emma. What if my "Postmaster" made such decisions for me? What if his/her decisions depended on his/her liking of me, or his/her mood, or his/her failure to reseal a letter properly. It is Iris' job to deliver EVERY letter. Iris should be fired.

 

Frankie? I think she did the right thing in not telling Emma about Will's last hours. Emma already developed her own way to deal with his death. She counted the "omens" and seemed to be able to compartmentalize her loss. Had Frankie told her about Will's words in the bunker, Emma might have taken it as another stab; Will had confided in a stranger. She might have felt a certain amount of jealousy. Imagine, her husband practically died in another woman's arms. And, given a detailed account of his death, she might have dwelled on the image to the detrement of her health. Without knowing details she will, eventually, form her own story, a story softened by time, a story based on the love Will shows her in the letter he wrote before he left. A story she and her child will be proud of.

Thank you, Frankie, for understanding and being sensitive to the pain your recollection of Will's last hours might have caused.

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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

I think Frankie should have mailed the letter if she was unable to deliver it in person.  I can see why she couldn't tell Emma about Will dying in her arms - maybe she can come up with the courage after time passes and the baby is born.  It would be hard to tell a pregnant woman in this instance.

 

Frankie sure found out a lot about her own self during the interviews with the people on the trains and in Franklin.

 

Patricia

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HannaintheTriad
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

It's been several weeks since I finished the book, and the characters and story lines have stayed with me.

I think Frankie has given herself an impossible task to try to capture the essence of the story of mass expulsion in the course of a few weeks.  I think that's why she ends up recording over recordings.  The enormity of the story was simply too great.  I also have reflected on her inability to deliver the letter to Emma after traveling so far to bring it to her.  I think the process of delivering the news out into the great abyss on the other side of the microphone is nothing like looking someone in the eye and delivering a bit of terrible news.

 

I know that Iris thought she was protecting Emma by not delivering the landladies letter, but perhaps she was only delaying the inevitable.  Perhaps she was doing Emma a disservice by protecting her... that knowing would have been better than the unknown, and would have released her from the worry a bit sooner.

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dhaupt
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Re: Last Chapters

 


Sunltcloud wrote:

iris was wrong in opening and withholding the letter to Emma. What if my "Postmaster" made such decisions for me? What if his/her decisions depended on his/her liking of me, or his/her mood, or his/her failure to reseal a letter properly. It is Iris' job to deliver EVERY letter. Iris should be fired.

 

Frankie? I think she did the right thing in not telling Emma about Will's last hours. Emma already developed her own way to deal with his death. She counted the "omens" and seemed to be able to compartmentalize her loss. Had Frankie told her about Will's words in the bunker, Emma might have taken it as another stab; Will had confided in a stranger. She might have felt a certain amount of jealousy. Imagine, her husband practically died in another woman's arms. And, given a detailed account of his death, she might have dwelled on the image to the detrement of her health. Without knowing details she will, eventually, form her own story, a story softened by time, a story based on the love Will shows her in the letter he wrote before he left. A story she and her child will be proud of.

Thank you, Frankie, for understanding and being sensitive to the pain your recollection of Will's last hours might have caused.


 

If you're referring to my comment, I didn't say it was right just that it was in character for Iris to with hold the letter

 

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emmagrace
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

I am pretty sure that we can never really get the whole story! There are to many sides and versions to ever really know for sure!

 

I am not sure whether or not I would have delivered the letter to Emma! On one hand, I would not want her to suffer. On the other hand, I think that Emma deserved to know. It is not a nice feeling, being left in the dark! I would want to know what happened to my loved one so that I could dind closure and move on with my life.

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emmagrace
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Re: Later Chapters: Summer, 1941 (18 - 28)

DStaff wrote:


I loved the book and am so happy it was a First Look selection.

 

The ending really made me think. First, Frankie. Murrow charged her with "Get in. Get the story. Get out." because otherwise reporters weren't mearly telling the story but rather became part of it. They would stop being "objective." Frankie couldn't follow those instructions when it came to people affected by the war, especially the Jews. She began feeling the story and that made it difficult for her to not expect others to get involved. Is it hard to get the whole story? I think so, unless you become part of the story, and at that point, it becomes hard to get out.

 

The last letter that Will wrote to Emma should have been mailed right away. But, Frankie kept "forgetting" and pretty soon, it was too late. Will's death really affected Frankie and I think she had difficulty parting with the last piece of him, a memory. Then, after meeting Emma and seeing that she was pregnant, Frankie couldn't give it to her. Was she wrong? That is a tough call. Frankie felt for Emma, saw the love she had for Will and saw the hope she maintained for Will's return. Frankie couldn't take that from her. My heart says she should have told Emma about meeting him so that Emma would have known he talked about her. I would have left out the "vanishing" memory.

 

The letter Iris received created another dilemma. As Postmaster, Iris had a duty to not only leave the letter sealed, but also to deliver it. She was completely wrong to open the letter and then once opened, to fail in delivering it. I understand what she was feeling, but she didn't have the right to do what she did. In fact, it is a crime. The gap of time did give Emma more time in her pregnancy, more time for the baby to develop and hopefully be delivered heathly. But, the delay made it impossible for Emma to discover the truth and have his body returned home for a timely burial.

 

I liked Otto. His character really rounded out the story. I don't blame him for not telling the town's people he was Jewish. They were mean-spirited toward him as it was, and most didn't even seem to understand the horrible situation overseas. Most didn't WANT to know. He didn't want their cruelty nor their pity.

 

I was most surprised by Iris. When she opened the letter, she failed in her duty as Postmaster, something she held close to her heart. I didn't think she would do anything to break the trust folks had in her, but she did.

 

The only thing I will say about the parallels of the book to today (I see many) is that many people continue to hide their heads in the sand and ignore the atrocities around the world. People who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it.


I really like you thoughts especially this one: The only thing I will say about the parallels of the book to today (I see many) is that many people continue to hide their heads in the sand and ignore the atrocities around the world. People who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it. (This is so true!)

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Sunltcloud
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Re: Last Chapters

 

I'm not referring to comments made by anybody; I'm just voicing my opinion.

Sunltcloud wrote:

iris was wrong in opening and withholding the letter to Emma. What if my "Postmaster" made such decisions for me? What if his/her decisions depended on his/her liking of me, or his/her mood, or his/her failure to reseal a letter properly. It is Iris' job to deliver EVERY letter. Iris should be fired.

 

Frankie? I think she did the right thing in not telling Emma about Will's last hours. Emma already developed her own way to deal with his death. She counted the "omens" and seemed to be able to compartmentalize her loss. Had Frankie told her about Will's words in the bunker, Emma might have taken it as another stab; Will had confided in a stranger. She might have felt a certain amount of jealousy. Imagine, her husband practically died in another woman's arms. And, given a detailed account of his death, she might have dwelled on the image to the detrement of her health. Without knowing details she will, eventually, form her own story, a story softened by time, a story based on the love Will shows her in the letter he wrote before he left. A story she and her child will be proud of.

Thank you, Frankie, for understanding and being sensitive to the pain your recollection of Will's last hours might have caused.


dhaupt wrote:

 

If you're referring to my comment, I didn't say it was right just that it was in character for Iris to with hold the letter