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Rachel-K
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War, Up Close and Far off

Frankie thinks proudly of how Londoners "can't help" but go about their lives as they usually do, and at the same time is furious at how American's go about their own ordinary lives without any impact from the war abroad. What makes ordinary life bravery on one coast and complacency on the other? Are you furious at the Americans with Frankie? How does Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries full of people going through their daily lives during war?

 

We get two descriptions of death close upon each other: One, of the bombing in London that Frankie lives through, but that kills Harriet and little Billy's mother, among many others, and the second, of Will's struggle with Maggie during her dire labor. What is the effect of hearing of death in these two contexts? How do the emotions--shock, outrage at injustice, shame, guilt, fear--take hold of the characters (and the readers!) in each of these stories? Why would an author give us these two difficult stories one after another--are we being invited to make comparisons or draw conclusions?

 

Does Maggie's death or Frankie's story of the bombings and deaths in London influence Will's decision to go to Europe?

 

How are the stories of the Jews being kept at bay by Europeans and Americans during this early section? Does Harriet seem to be the only character who has some sense of what might be happening?

 

Do you or your family have "close up" or "far off" stories around the holocaust and WW2?

 

 

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pattycakeMN
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

My Father fought in WWII.  I once asked my Mother if American's were outraged by the treatment of the Jews during the war.  Her response was that it seemed so far away and something they just read about in the newspapers that it didn''t even seem real.  I was really shocked by this response.

 

Patricia

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Sunltcloud
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

I don't seem to be able to start a new thread so I thought that the WWII timeline would best fit here.

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/ww2time.htm

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phenomshel
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Regarding Will's decision, I think both events - Frankie's reporting and Maggie's death- had a part in it.  With him being a newlywed, I don't think he would have gone until possibly later if Maggie hadn't died.  But I do think regardless, he would have gone eventually.   But I think Maggie's death precipitated matters. 

 

Shel

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dhaupt
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Are you furious at the Americans with Frankie? How does Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries full of people going through their daily lives during war?

I can understand Frankie's attitude about America and the war, but the common man had no say if we go to war or not so her anger at Americans is misplaced, America at that time only knew what the government told us. The first amendment wasn't as closely followed as it is today.

 

We get two descriptions of death close upon each other: One, of the bombing in London that Frankie lives through, but that kills Harriet and little Billy's mother, among many others, and the second, of Will's struggle with Maggie during her dire labor. What is the effect of hearing of death in these two contexts? How do the emotions--shock, outrage at injustice, shame, guilt, fear--take hold of the characters (and the readers!) in each of these stories? Why would an author give us these two difficult stories one after another--are we being invited to make comparisons or draw conclusions?

First of all multiple deaths attributed to war tend to anger people far more than what appeared to be a death during childbirth and I felt the same way, but I have more information than the common folks in the novel and I know that Maggie's death might have been prevented if Dr. Fitch would have sought more medical help, were as the victims of war were just tragic occupational hazards of warfare.

 

Does Maggie's death or Frankie's story of the bombings and deaths in London influence Will's decision to go to Europe?

 I think Will decides to go to England to run away from Maggie's death, not to help with the war effort.

 

How are the stories of the Jews being kept at bay by Europeans and Americans during this early section? Does Harriet seem to be the only character who has some sense of what might be happening?

As I mentioned above, we're not dealing with the information highway at this time in our history, we have to rely on eyewitness accounts and what our governments decide to tell us and at this point the only message regarding the Jews in Europe was rumors. Families assumed that loved ones weren't answering letters etc because they had been dls-placed and hadn't landed at a permanent address yet.

 

Do you or your family have "close up" or "far off" stories around the holocaust and WW2?

 I have many family members all deceased now who fought in WW11 and returned home and some who fought and didn't return.


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DSaff
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

  Frankie seems to have a wonderful ability to really "see" people. That is why she has such admiration for Londoners. These were people who are being bombed every night, who hear the shells and don't know where they will land, who learn to sleep in shelters; yet the next day do the things they need to do.  She also knows that America hasn't entered the war, and that many are complacent. She NEEDS to tell them what is happening. She NEEDS to make it real. She needs to wake them up to see that people are suffering, to touch one person to do something. Then, the war becomes more real to her when she spends a night with the guys on the front line, followed by a night spent in a bomb shelter. Page 62 has a great paragraph (the last one) that showed me when the war became very real to Frankie. She felt it. I think Frankie "get's it."

 

  I also think that Parkhurst "get's it." On page 59 Pankhurst says, "Someone ought to go over there and prove that. Paint the picture of the people who are  trying to get out of Germany. Follow a family. Then it might be clear that it's no accident that the refugees are Jews. That's the story to get."

 

  The two death scenes showed once again how indescriminate death is. You can be enjoying a meal and a bomb drops. You can be healthy, awaiting a baby, and your body gives out. Both scenes brought tears to my eyes as both were very powerfully told.

 

  Will signs up for the war because he is running from ghosts. <imho> Family members have made big mistakes and he feels cursed. When  Maggie dies, Will loses part of himself - his confidence. He feels responsible. Then, he hears Frankie on the radio, hears about the need for doctors, and decides to sign up. I don't think he is thinking of anyone but himself. He must run from the ghosts. He must protect others. While his actions are understandable, they are also rash. Who knows what will happen to him.

 

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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Wilson54
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Are you furious at the Americans with Frankie? How does Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries full of people going through their daily lives during war?

I empathize with Frankie's frustrations but can not be angry with the Americans.  At that particular time, we wre recovering from the Great Depression and in an isolationist mode.

Frankie is the voice in England that contrasts the isolation of Franklin.

 

We get two descriptions of death close upon each other: One, of the bombing in London that Frankie lives through, but that kills Harriet and little Billy's mother, among many others, and the second, of Will's struggle with Maggie during her dire labor. What is the effect of hearing of death in these two contexts? How do the emotions--shock, outrage at injustice, shame, guilt, fear--take hold of the characters (and the readers!) in each of these stories? Why would an author give us these two difficult stories one after another--are we being invited to make comparisons or draw conclusions?

I think Frankie's telling of the boy's loss put a new perspective of the lives lost in London.  Maggie's death put a new perspective on WIll's character and the very humanity of physicians.   The two paralelled one another in that each left a child without a parent. 

 

Does Maggie's death or Frankie's story of the bombings and deaths in London influence Will's decision to go to Europe?

I think Will carries the shame of his father's weakness.  He does not leave for London to help but rather to get away from the place to which he never wnated to return in the first place.

 

How are the stories of the Jews being kept at bay by Europeans and Americans during this early section? Does Harriet seem to be the only character who has some sense of what might be happening?

Although Harriet was trying to bring the stories to light, sadly a lone voice does not carry much impact.  From stories my parents tell, I know there was disbelief that anyone could displace people just because of race or creed prior to our entracne into the war.  Later, we would displace persons of Japanese decent "for their own safety".  My family believed the Jews in Europe were being placed in equally "protective" camps.

 

Do you or your family have "close up" or "far off" stories around the holocaust and WW2?

I have heard stories throughout my life of the effects of WWII both here, in Europe and the Pacific theater.

 

Carole
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Sunltcloud
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

If you want to listen to Edward R Murrow (and the sirens of wartime) click on this link:

 

http://www.radiohof.org/news/edwardmurrow.html#

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JaneM
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Those people affected by the war - in this case Londoners, or in another example, the Tutsi people being slaughtered by the Hutus in Rwanda - have a right to be furious that the rest of the world that seems to be uninvolved in their plight.  Certainly the U.S. did not get involved until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  And the U.S. never officially acknowledged the genocide in Rwanda.  But Frankie is doing exactly what she needs to do by making the war "real" by describing what she sees and the impact on their lives.  This is how the media can make a positive impact by making issues visible long enough and hard enough to get a response from all of us who would rather just not see.

 

It is through death, personal loss or tragedy that we become engaged.  Frankie's story of the death of Harriet and Billy's mother has a profound impact on everyone who heard it, from Emma, who immediately wants to help the boy, to we readers who are fully engaged in the life and death experiences that are occurring.  Will's reaction to Maggie's death is more personal - one that affects him in such a profound way that he makes a life-changing decision to sacrifice the safety of being a small-town doctor for the greater good of supporting Londoners.  It commits him to a course of being a human being who does not look away (p. 104).  But Emma, who had initially wanted to help, has a change of mind and wants their safety as a couple to have precedence.  It is only when she hears the gull's cry and thinks it might be a baby, that she remembers her own inclination to help, and is willing to accept his decision.

Jane M.
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liisa22
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

I am not furious at Americans for their thoughts of the war.  Yes, it happened(s) over there, but, we as citizens of a country, don't have any choice about whether or not the country goes to war.  As we know now, it is very important that we support those who do go off to fight, wether we agree or not on the reasons they go.  

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Deltadawn
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

I would love to listen to Murrow and will do so as soon as I fix the speakers (or replace them!) which my children must have blown for the 2nd time! Thanks for sharing that link!

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Deltadawn
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

I am not furious with the Americans, because of the same reason that others here have mentioned - information was not as available & as reliable back then as it might be today. I don't blame her for feeling that way, though, since she was seeing it from up close.

 

I believe the primary reason that Will leaves for England is Maggie's death.

 

At this point in time, Harriet seems to be the only character who really grasps what may be happening - but I don't think Frankie is far behind her. She seems to want to fulfill Harriet's mission in that respect now that Harriet has lost her life.

 

 

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Sunltcloud
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

http://holocaustmusic.ort.org/places/camps/western-europe/gurs/

 

This is the camp where Otto Schelling's wife is.

 

Rachel, I don't seem to be able to generate a thread; would you be kind enough to establish a place where we can post links to related material. Thanks, Gisela

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Tarri
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

[ Edited ]

 

 Are you furious at the Americans with Frankie? How does Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries full of people going through their daily lives during war?

 

As has been mentioned by several people, the Americans don't have the choice of whether or not they enter the war, only the President and Congress can make that decision.  As has also been mentioned, it seems that it is human nature to ignore things that are not happening right in front of their noses.  When the Concentration Camps were liberated everyone said "never again", but if you look around the world right now you'll see that never again is all around us and we just don't want to see it.

 

 

Does Maggie's death or Frankie's story of the bombings and deaths in London influence Will's decision to go to Europe?

 I  agree that WIll is running away from what he perceives as failure, just like his father did after the bank failed.  Of course, his father only ran as far as the garden and a bottle.  Will could not face becoming his father. 

 

Do you or your family have "close up" or "far off" stories around the holocaust and WW2?

 

My father served on an aircraft carrier Intrepid (I think) during  WWII.

 

 

 

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CathyB
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Frankie thinks proudly of how Londoners "can't help" but go about their lives as they usually do, and at the same time is furious at how American's go about their own ordinary lives without any impact from the war abroad. What makes ordinary life bravery on one coast and complacency on the other? Are you furious at the Americans with Frankie? How does Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries full of people going through their daily lives during war?

 

I am not angry with the Americans. They are at the mercy of what the government and censor allow to be heard. They do not know firsthand what is happening. I think that Frankie's broadcasts allow the Americans to 'see' what is going on and garner some experiences.

 

We get two descriptions of death close upon each other: One, of the bombing in London that Frankie lives through, but that kills Harriet and little Billy's mother, among many others, and the second, of Will's struggle with Maggie during her dire labor. What is the effect of hearing of death in these two contexts?How do the emotions--shock, outrage at injustice, shame, guilt, fear--take hold of the characters (and the readers!) in each of these stories? Why would an author give us these two difficult stories one after another--are we being invited to make comparisons or draw conclusions?


Will feels guilty. Frankie feels outraged.


I thought that Maggie's death was being used as a catalyst to get Will into the war. I didn't draw any comparisons between the two death scenes.  I saw Maggie's death coming the minute her son came for the doctor - I was not shocked that it occurred.

 

Does Maggie's death or Frankie's story of the bombings and deaths in London influence Will's decision to go to Europe?


I think that Maggie's death pushed him in volunteering. He feels guilty and that he cannot escape his fate - he is running away from his life.

 

How are the stories of the Jews being kept at bay by Europeans and Americans during this early section? Does Harriet seem to be the only character who has some sense of what might be happening?

 

They are constantly referred to as refugees. Harriet is one who voices her opinion. I feel that the other reporters know waht is going on but feel it is pointless in discussing it.

 

Do you or your family have "close up" or "far off" stories around the holocaust and WW2?

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lmpmn
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

I find as I'm reading other's posts about war in other countries and media information, how much this book really does relate to what's going on today.

 

As far as being furious with the Americans not joining the war sooner, it's easy to look at it now and say, "Yes, we should have."  It's always easier to look back at history and judge because one has the bigger picture to look at and all the necessary information and time to make the decision.  That's something that people discuss every day here in America.  Should we have gone to war?  Why are we still there?  It will be so much easier 50 years from now to look back and say what should have been done with clarity.

 

As far as the media is concerned, someone on a different thread brought up the idea about being a reporter and being able to have balance between telling the truth, staying objective, and staying compassionate.  Our society is saturated with information from all kinds of different people: some have hidden agendas, some are open about their agendas, some who tell objective stories with no agendas at all, etc.  If you want to know what's going on in the world, it's your job to find who's out there and what their story is in an intelligent, informed manner.  Back then it was so different.  Radio was king and whoever owned the airwaves had a say in what was said and how it was said.

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Lildove3
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Yes, I agree the death of Maggie pushed Will's decision to go over seas a little quicker.

I'm not sure how Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries, I might have to reread the chapters

to figure that one out.

The author might be inviting us to make comparisons or leading us to draw conclusions, my thought is she

 is trying to keep the readers attention ,so therefore, she hands us two very difficult emotions to bear while

 reading or she's trying to make us feel several different emotions all at once.

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thewanderingjew
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Frankie thinks proudly of how Londoners "can't help" but go about their lives as they usually do, and at the same time is furious at how American's go about their own ordinary lives without any impact from the war abroad. What makes ordinary life bravery on one coast and complacency on the other? Are you furious at the Americans with Frankie?

How does Frankie bridge the distance between the two countries full of people going through their daily lives during war?

 

twj wrote:
When tragedy takes place somewhere else, people just don't react as strongly. They don't feel or identify with the danger. Initially, they feel shock and they make an effort to help those suffering but then they get used to the idea, they are removed from the horror of it, so they just go about their daily lives. "Life is for the living".

I am reminded of how people reacted after 9/11. Initially, there was grief, outrage, blame, pain, fear, you name it every human emotion coursed through our veins. Then, however, time passed and there were no more immediate disasters and people forgot. They no longer felt anger at the people who did it but rather they turned their anger on their own government. When the shock wore off they began to question the responses and the consequences. They were no longer afraid. Some became self righteous Monday morning quarterbacks. Some became genuinely concerned about the aftermath.

I can remember some people, who did not live in the immediate area of Manhattan, saying 9/11 wasn't such a terrible thing. I was shocked that someone in Massachusetts could feel so detached about a disaster in NYC that was an attack on the entire USA. Yet, I guess if you weren't in Columbine, the horror wasn't as great. So, I guess my answer to the question of whether or not I am as angry as Frankie has to be no. I am used to complacency so I accept it from others, but not from myself. I speak out when I feel there is injustice and try to put my money where my mouth is. Certainly, it is far easier to be complacent.

I like and respect Frankie because she is trying to make her voice known and get the message about the war out to those who seem to be ignoring its ramifications. She bridges the gap because she is the voice that reaches across the ocean and gets into the souls of the Americans so they can feel the war and experience it through her voice and eyes,  although they are thousands of miles away. She makes it personal not distant. She brings it home. Politicians have a harder time listening; they have to satisfy constituents as well as themselves.
I think Frankie reaches Will and Harry and Iris. Iris hangs a map because she feels the war is coming and wants to follow its path. Harry wants to cut part of the post office flag pole down because he feels the war is coming and he doesn't  want Franklin to be a sitting duck. Will wants to make up for all the pain and guilt in his life by enlisting and joining the war effort, offering his services as a doctor. Her voice got through.

 

 

 

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Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006

Re: War, Up Close and Far off

[ Edited ]

Rachel-K wrote:

 

We get two descriptions of death close upon each other: One, of the bombing in London that Frankie lives through, but that kills Harriet and little Billy's mother, among many others, and the second, of Will's struggle with Maggie during her dire labor. What is the effect of hearing of death in these two contexts? How do the emotions--shock, outrage at injustice, shame, guilt, fear--take hold of the characters (and the readers!) in each of these stories? Why would an author give us these two difficult stories one after another--are we being invited to make comparisons or draw conclusions?

 

     I wrote in the margin on page 66 & 67 that chills ran up and down my spine as I read Frankies story on the radio.  The deaths of Harriet and the little boys mum were random acts of violence.  The words spoken by Frankie such as " crumbled", "crushed", "dagger" - the soft, quiet aftermath of the roaring plans and exploding bombs.  I imagine the people in the U.S listening to the broadcast in the evening possibly with the lights off, each imagining his or her own version of hell. And then it is time for bed, the radio clicks off and families stumble up the stairs to their warm and comfortable beds.  It's received on the same box that brings Milton Berle into their living rooms and the war correspondence is almost a vulgar form of entertainment.  So far away - the world was a much bigger place back then.

 

     As I read  Maggie's episode I remember thinking that this is Will's war, his fight and I'm sorry to say he fails miserably.  He sensed a problem but just continued to do what he did at every other delivery.

 

Does Maggie's death or Frankie's story of the bombings and deaths in London influence Will's decision to go to Europe?

   I thnk Will uses the little boys story as an excuse. And implicates Emma by reminding her on page 104 that she had said "...we ought to do something..."  At first Emma doesn't even remember the little boy.  I'm afraid to think about what Dr. Fitch will run from during the war.

 

   

 

 


 

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melisndav
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Re: War, Up Close and Far off

Both of my grandfathers were in WWII.  My paternal grandfather was actually held prisoner in a German concentation camp for three days before they were able to escape.   He brought home a German flag and some other souvenirs (as he liked to call them) from the war.  Neither of my grandpas liked to discuss the war much, unless they were drinking, then they got very somber.