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Rachel-K
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In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

 

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything?

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," and have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

 

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Zia01
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything? Yeah actually I think Joe feel quite a bit of guilt over the things him and Raymond are doing, but he just can't seem to say no to Raymond and end's up following along with whatever plan or sceme Raymond has going.

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all? I do think Karel's older brothers find fault with him. Fault for their Mother, fault for having to take responsibility for him and his care when he was younger. I think it's why as adults they don't seem to acknowledge each other.

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thewanderingjew
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

 

In each instance where blame is assigned it appears to be done with an eye toward vengeance of some kind rather than reconciliation or restitution.

 

That philosophy has carried over into our our present day as in our prison system. Rather than rehabilitation, we a desire for retribution.


As to right or wrong, it doesn't seem to me to have anything to do with justice, rather it has to do with the idea of who wins. If you are stronger and you best your offender, you are right in the eyes of the mob. The issue of cause and effect fades with only the effect assuming importance. The so-called mob seems to upport the one they perceive as more important and more powerful, not the one who may be more righteous.

 

 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

 

There doesn't seem to be a right or wrong, just a resolution of the issue by whatever means they choose. The winner is right.

 

I was surprised that Karel was as calm as he appeared after being bested by Raymond and Joe. I would have thought that he would go ballistic when he discovered what they did but he seemed to remain calm and thoughtful in his approach. He set about finding the Knedlik brothers methodically and when he didn't find them, he went about the business of cleaning up the mess they left simply because it had to be done, I suppose. When I think about it, I realize Karel was also fairly calm after he was bested by Graciella. Perhaps he is seeing justice and not retribution as I originally thought, as his purpose. He didn't want to go out and hurt anyone, he just wanted to make sure the brothers paid him back for the damages and losses they caused him.

Raymond and Joe were different. I think Raymond wanted retribution for the consequences of their own behavior, even though they started the feud and brought it upon themselves.  Joe seemed more able to walk away and wanted to just pick up and go out west. Raymond was the angrier brother whom Joe always looked up to for guidance and leadership. He appeared to be the one who also paid for Raymond's indiscretions. He got shot with the birdshot when Ray incited Thom deliberately by spitting on his floor. He got trapped in the barn when what little compassion he had, overcame him and caused him to free the filly. That act had tragic consequences for him.

(It is interesting that the only act of kindness shown appears to be rewarded with dire consequences for Joe. Actually, thinking back, when Karel shows kindness to Graciela, he too is rewarded with pain. Stan's kindness to Karel when he brings their mother's picture to him, is also rewarded with pain. Goodness is often punished in this book. Perhaps we have to see all of the pain to understand the magnitude of the ultimate forgiveness we expect, from the title.)


Both of the Knedlik brothers seemed to feel cheated by life and seemed to believe that they were justified in taking whatever they wanted, without a care, if it served their purpose. Although they seemed to want to follow Karel's instructions at first, their greed took over and they brought about their own downfall by trying to cut corners. I don't think they originally intended to cheat Karel. Perhaps they didn't know the territory had been divided between the Gonzales and the Skalas. Once the chain of events started, however, Raymond took command. Before running away, he wanted vengeance for the shooting of his brother. Perhaps he felt guilty. The birdshot should have taken him down not Joe. He was the one who was insolent. Perhaps it was just his nature. His vengeance required violence and destruction. Raymond was the scarier and more dangerous brother.

 

Joe reminded me a bit of Karel. They each had a surrogate parent in their older brother but that brother was a poor example because of no example to follow and because the brother had a violent streak like the father they resented.

 


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thewanderingjew
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


Rachel-K wrote:

 

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything?

 

I think Joe felt guilty and that is why he freed the filly. He looked around and saw that the so-called punishment being extracted did not fit the crime committed. He was helpless to defy his brother, though. He looked to him to be the leader.

Perhaps Karel feels guilty about his tryst with Graciela because he often wonders if his brother knows.

 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


Rachel-K wrote:

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," and have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?


I remember having a friend who thought if you didn't feel pain you would not understand pleasure or the absence of pain.

 

I feel almost as if the author is saying almost the same thing. You cannot understand the magnitude of forgiveness if you don't understand the magnitude of the "fault" and the circumstances involved incurring the fault and ultimately the blame.

 

I am wondering if the title really means that there will be forgiveness in the end.  Perhaps the "crimes" will have been too great to forgive. I have a feeling I am going to read on.

 

Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back!


 

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dhaupt
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

[ Edited ]

First of all I hope you're feeling better Rachel

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

Fault has a lot to do with the all of the characters in the novel.

 

Vaclav I think feels guilty about the way he acted when he struck his son and I think it had more to do with his being embarrassed about tearing up in front of all his sons and also about teaching them that only the strong survive. He is still a major puzzle to me, when we hear his thoughts he sometimes seems gentle and yet in his actions it's all about hardness.

 

It's also hard to describe blame as Karel might feel as we are only learning about him in snippets in the present and then in the past. So I think it's the intent of the author that we learn about him slowly, maybe so we can see him one way and then have our minds changed later on. But I do feel that in his heart he knows that being an adulterer is wrong and I think he loves his family so I'm waiting to find out why he's like he is.

 

 

Joe and Raymond, however, I think are products of their environment a drunken abusive father and a submissive mother who although tries to teach them right from wrong in her words, her actions tell them otherwise, so they grew up learning that if you want something take it wether it's right or wrong.

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," I don't know that fault is tied in with forgiveness, Vaclav obviously blamed his sons for many things and see no forgiveness in him thus far.

Sophie I think is forgiving even knowing that Karel is not the perfect husband, in fact far from it. And yet she constantly reaches out to him and I think that her softness speaks to him, perhaps it's that softness in her that sends Karel out to Elizka so he can be more brutal with her, not that's he's abusive in his actions just cruder or baser.  He thinks Sophie is worthy of better treatment than he gives to Elizka. 

 

have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

I think I've started to see forgiveness in how Karel longs for his brothers companionship, when he recalls what is was like to share the harness with them and then share the quiet times in their room and especially when they were too young to be put in the harness when life seemed simpler and happier for them playing by the creek.

I think that Sophie would forgive Karel and accept him with open arms for whatever wrongs he did because I think she sees in him a better man than he thinks he is.

 

But the real question is, do these characters think they deserve forgiveness and so far I think they don't. Karel feels at fault and therefore acts the part of a guilty party because he doesn't think he deserves forgiveness, the twins also act this way. The other brothers I don't know too much about yet.

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Deltadawn
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 

I agree on both accounts.

thewanderingjew wrote:

 


Rachel-K wrote:

 

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything?

 

I think Joe felt guilty and that is why he freed the filly. He looked around and saw that the so-called punishment being extracted did not fit the crime committed. He was helpless to defy his brother, though. He looked to him to be the leader.

Perhaps Karel feels guilty about his tryst with Graciela because he often wonders if his brother knows.

 


 

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flouncyninja
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

I think that one pivotal event and Vaclav's resulting speech is what kept the brothers from fully joining forces during the rest of their rough childhood.  They learned that there is always someone to blame - accidents don't occur, it's always someone's fault and blame should be placed accordingly.  I think this twisted into the boys' feelings that everything is everyone else's fault and why they hated Karel so much that they wanted to abandon him to live alone with their father.

 

This has stemmed into Thom and Villasenor blaming Karel for the actions of Joe and Raymond even though their doing everything without Karel's knowledge.  Raymond shows no signs of guilt, even when his brother is shot due to his thoughtless actions.  He has no remorse, only anger and a need for revenge.

 

I don't think forgiveness has come into play at all yet, just hatred and grudge holding.  It's kind of depressing.

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DSaff
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

The oldest child often shoulders the blame when something goes wrong, as he did in this case. I guess that is because they are supposedly old enough to set an example and take the punishment. The picture was an accident, but Vaclav lost the last "look" at his wife. For that, and for going into his room without permission, someone had to be punished, whether or not the oldest had done it. This was the first time I felt some sympathy for Vaclav, but it didn't last long. He could have shared his grief with his sons, but instead he chose to "be a man" and swallow his sorrow. Backhanding his son just let some of the sorrow out. I was not surprised when the younger brothers hid behind the eldest. They were well trained on how it would go.

 

I don't find anyone actually feeling guilt for what they have done. That would imply that they felt remorse and regret, that they wanted to apologize and make things right. There always seems to be someone to blame.

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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Deltadawn
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

"Fault" (or guilt) is a theme that runs deep in this book right to its core and the characters assign blame to each other readily. It seems they take Vaclav's word to heart that there is always someone to blame for anything that goes wrong. I believe that Karel knows the difference between right and wrong, though he is known to take the "wrong" route on more than one occasion. Raymond and Joe understand the concept of blame and fault - they have seen & been on the receiving end of brutality at the hands of their father. Raymond, I think seeks retribution - Joe, as others have stated, seems to follow his brother - though he may have more of a sense of right and wrong and personal responsibiilty, he does allow his brother to lead the way.

 

I do believe that Karel & Joe feel a sense of guilt over the actions that they take that know they should not take (not that it stops them).

 

 

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maxcat
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

Rachel_K wrote:

 

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

Vaclav was a bitter to start with and to me, that particular scene, I actually saw some softness appear on Vaclav's face. Tears welling up in his eyes that he didn't want the boys to see. He blames everybody but himself and he may have been brought up that way.

 

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

 

Joe and Raymond are out to look out for themselves. Although, I think it is more about Raymond than Joe. Joe follows Raymond's lead when they take Karel's beer and sell it to places other than Karel's delivery spots. There's fault there as Karel will come looking for them. Then, they set Karel's barn on fire, but Joe defies Raymond and takes a filly despite breaking his shin. With Karel, there's fault with having his way with Graciela before she gets married and also Elizka, while Sophie has a baby.

 

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything?

 

Vaclav will never feel guilty even for all the things he has done. Karel should feel guilty for having sex with Graciela. Joe and Raymond should feel guilty for stealing Karel's beer and burning his barn down.

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," and have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

 

At this point I don't see signs of forgiveness. Just plenty of faults. Maybe that is the wake of forgiveness.

 

 

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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BookWoman718
Posts: 220
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault


dhaupt wrote:

 

Vaclav I think feels guilty about the way he acted when he struck his son and I think it had more to do with his being embarrassed about tearing up in front of all his sons and also about teaching them that only the strong survive. He is still a major puzzle to me, when we hear his thoughts he sometimes seems gentle and yet in his actions it's all about hardness.

 

It's also hard to describe blame as Karel might feel as we are only learning about him in snippets in the present and then in the past. So I think it's the intent of the author that we learn about him slowly, maybe so we can see him one way and then have our minds changed later on. But I do feel that in his heart he knows that being an adulterer is wrong and I think he loves his family so I'm waiting to find out why he's like he is.

 

 

Joe and Raymond, however, I think are products of their environment a drunken abusive father and a submissive mother who although tries to teach them right from wrong in her words, her actions tell them otherwise, so they grew up learning that if you want something take it wether it's right or wrong.

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," I don't know that fault is tied in with forgiveness, Vaclav obviously blamed his sons for many things and see no forgiveness in him thus far.

Sophie I think is forgiving even knowing that Karel is not the perfect husband, in fact far from it. And yet she constantly reaches out to him and I think that her softness speaks to him, perhaps it's that softness in her that sends Karel out to Elizka so he can be more brutal with her, not that's he's abusive in his actions just cruder or baser.  He thinks Sophie is worthy of better treatment than he gives to Elizka. 

 

have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

I think I've started to see forgiveness in how Karel longs for his brothers companionship, when he recalls what is was like to share the harness with them and then share the quiet times in their room and especially when they were too young to be put in the harness when life seemed simpler and happier for them playing by the creek.

I think that Sophie would forgive Karel and accept him with open arms for whatever wrongs he did because I think she sees in him a better man than he thinks he is.

 

But the real question is, do these characters think they deserve forgiveness and so far I think they don't. Karel feels at fault and therefore acts the part of a guilty party because he doesn't think he deserves forgiveness, the twins also act this way. The other brothers I don't know too much about yet.


 

I agree with so much of what you've said above, and I especially liked the thoughtfulness of your last paragraph.   There is plenty of blame to go around in this story of recklessness, lies, abuse, dereliction of duty, cruelty, betrayal, in all sorts of interrelated combinations.  The life here seems to be so hard that I'm not sure any of the characters has seen examples of generosity of spirit and healing forgiveness which they might try to emulate.  With the exception of Sophie, who seems inclined to love and accept her husband even with all his faults.  (One can only hope that her love and trust will not prove ultimately to be her undoing;  Karel needs to change in fundamental ways if the marriage is to endure over the years and provide a stable home for their children.)  Back to the point, when one doesn't know the power of forgiveness, one can scarcely feel deserving of it, or inclined to offer it to others.  Instead, it becomes a never-ending round of bad actions, guilt and blame placed, followed by retribution and another cycle of bad actions.  The past is always there, coloring and poisoning the present and the future. 

 

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dhaupt
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


BookWoman718 wrote:

dhaupt wrote:

 

Vaclav I think feels guilty about the way he acted when he struck his son and I think it had more to do with his being embarrassed about tearing up in front of all his sons and also about teaching them that only the strong survive. He is still a major puzzle to me, when we hear his thoughts he sometimes seems gentle and yet in his actions it's all about hardness.

 

It's also hard to describe blame as Karel might feel as we are only learning about him in snippets in the present and then in the past. So I think it's the intent of the author that we learn about him slowly, maybe so we can see him one way and then have our minds changed later on. But I do feel that in his heart he knows that being an adulterer is wrong and I think he loves his family so I'm waiting to find out why he's like he is.

 

 

Joe and Raymond, however, I think are products of their environment a drunken abusive father and a submissive mother who although tries to teach them right from wrong in her words, her actions tell them otherwise, so they grew up learning that if you want something take it wether it's right or wrong.

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," I don't know that fault is tied in with forgiveness, Vaclav obviously blamed his sons for many things and see no forgiveness in him thus far.

Sophie I think is forgiving even knowing that Karel is not the perfect husband, in fact far from it. And yet she constantly reaches out to him and I think that her softness speaks to him, perhaps it's that softness in her that sends Karel out to Elizka so he can be more brutal with her, not that's he's abusive in his actions just cruder or baser.  He thinks Sophie is worthy of better treatment than he gives to Elizka. 

 

have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

I think I've started to see forgiveness in how Karel longs for his brothers companionship, when he recalls what is was like to share the harness with them and then share the quiet times in their room and especially when they were too young to be put in the harness when life seemed simpler and happier for them playing by the creek.

I think that Sophie would forgive Karel and accept him with open arms for whatever wrongs he did because I think she sees in him a better man than he thinks he is.

 

But the real question is, do these characters think they deserve forgiveness and so far I think they don't. Karel feels at fault and therefore acts the part of a guilty party because he doesn't think he deserves forgiveness, the twins also act this way. The other brothers I don't know too much about yet.


 

I agree with so much of what you've said above, and I especially liked the thoughtfulness of your last paragraph.   There is plenty of blame to go around in this story of recklessness, lies, abuse, dereliction of duty, cruelty, betrayal, in all sorts of interrelated combinations.  The life here seems to be so hard that I'm not sure any of the characters has seen examples of generosity of spirit and healing forgiveness which they might try to emulate.  With the exception of Sophie, who seems inclined to love and accept her husband even with all his faults.  (One can only hope that her love and trust will not prove ultimately to be her undoing;  Karel needs to change in fundamental ways if the marriage is to endure over the years and provide a stable home for their children.)  Back to the point, when one doesn't know the power of forgiveness, one can scarcely feel deserving of it, or inclined to offer it to others.  Instead, it becomes a never-ending round of bad actions, guilt and blame placed, followed by retribution and another cycle of bad actions.  The past is always there, coloring and poisoning the present and the future. 

 


Thank you

 

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krb2g
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

I'm seeing much more fault than forgiveness in these chapters. The particular incident with the photograph makes me sad, because it's so hard to assign fault--and once the picture is gone, there's nothing that can be done to get it back ....

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Peppermill
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


krb2g wrote:

I'm seeing much more fault than forgiveness in these chapters. The particular incident with the photograph makes me sad, because it's so hard to assign fault--and once the picture is gone, there's nothing that can be done to get it back ....


Yes!  It is rather like they say about fire protection.  One really should keep some treasured photos in some duplicate location.  (Wonder when/if I will ever do that.)

 

"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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mv5ocean
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault


Rachel-K wrote:

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

Joe seems to have some sense of guilt for his part but as he is not altogether there it seems that Raymond easily gets him caught up in the hype of the act and he forgets his concerns.  Raymond seems to have no guilt and takes pleasure his actions.

 

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," and have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

Karel hints when going by his brothers house and thinking about stopping that he misses even the odd dynamics of a relationship that they had. I feel their strange bond will be mended at some point.


 

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MSaff
Posts: 272
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

    What I see in these middle chapters is a continued barrage of laying of fault, as long as it's now taking the blame yourself.  When Vaclav strikes his oldest child for allowing Karel to hold his mother's picture, I believe it was over the top.  Yes Vaclav held the picture of he and his wife dearly, and it would appear that aside from his children, he had very little to remind him of her except memories.  He should take responsibility for his own actions, or lack there of, when it came to showing any affection to his sons.  He should have talked with the boys about their mother, especially Karel, as he was the youngest and never knew his mother. 

  Now on to the twins, Joe and Raymond.  They take no responsibility for their actions and even take great pride in doing wrong.  I supposed that in their minds, especially Raymond's, they are doing right.  They had been beaten by the father and in their minds, burning the house down with him in it was their way of righting the wrong of brutality.

  We see it again when they burn the barn down and who knows what else at the end of the middle section. 

  Throughout the story, I haven't found anyone who is willing to take responsibility for their actions and place the blame on everyone else. 

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

 

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything?

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," and have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

 


 

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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Katirish59
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness:

 

This is all new to me, discussing books that is.  They all seemed to have an issue with closeness.  Everyone seemed to be so very distant.  At the end the majority seemed to try to reconnect.

CAG
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CAG
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Re: In the Wake of Forgiveness: Finding Fault

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Early in these chapters, toddler Karel, wanting to "touch" his mother, accidentally ruins the photograph of her that each member of the family privately cherishes. When Vaclav backhands his oldest boy for letting the child hold it, he tells him that there's always somebody to blame for anything that goes wrong, "even if it's God what made a mess of things."

 

How can we look at "fault' in these chapters? How do these characters assign fault to each other? How do Karel, Thom, Joe and Raymond look at the idea of right and wrong--or do they at all?

 

I think the characters have grown up in families that do not allow for much soul searching and therefore it is easy for them to find fault and blame others whenever something bad happens. The older brothers find fault in Karel and probably blame him for causing their father to become so cruel. The twins blame Thom and his family for making them look bad and want revenge.  Concerning the twins, I don't think much thought goes into right and wrong.They feel if someone does you wrong then they are at fault and must pay in some fashion.

 

Do any of the characters feel guilty for anything?

 

I think Karel feels guilty about his mother and father's death. I think Joe feels Raymond has gone too far with the barn fire and feels guilty about the animals being harmed.

 

How is "fault" tied in with "forgiveness," and have we seen any hints of forgiveness so far in the novel?

 

You have to find fault with others or yourself in order to seek forgiveness. I haven't seen complete forgiveness in these chapters but I think it is underneath some of the characters emotions-it is what they are working on.

 


 

 

CAG