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RIRN56
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far?

 

Sophie has only been mentioned a little, but she appears to be not as beautiful as Graciela. She seems to be quiet, loving, forgiving, and she doesn't seem to want to ruffle any feathers.

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RIRN56
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Elizka, to me, appears to be intelligent and independent. She appears to be very comfortable with herself.

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RIRN56
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Graciela appears to be beautiful, sexy, and spoiled. She appears to be flirty with Karel, and she appears to enjoy a lot of attention.

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Kittysmom
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

I agree that Karel is just a product of his upbringing, but that doesn;t give us any reason to believe he has to stay that way - does he even realize that his father is just an evil man?

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MSaff
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Hi Everyone,

 

  As I have been reading this first section, I have found that I cannot find myself liking any of the characters as yet.  Each one of them appears to be self centered and self serving.  Of all the characters to choose from I guess at this point I have to go with Karel. 

  Karel appears to be the very submissive child as the youngest in the family.  This was probably brought on as a result for the resentment towards him following the death of his mother during childbirth.  I guess his father sees something in him, maybe a little bit of his mother who he appeared to have loved deeply.  I think her death during childbirth changed him dramatically. 

  As a brother, I have a feeling that he has been picked on and abused by his brothers.  There doesn't appear to be any love there at all.

  As a husband, he leaves a lot to be desired.  At first I thought as I read, that he had somehow managed to throw the old family ways out the window once he was married and had a family of his own.  Only to find out that he is having a least one affair.  This while his wife is giving birth.  Karel did show signs of love during the scene when he is playing with his daughters. 

  As for loyalty to his father both during the race and ensuing family battle?  I don't believe that there's any loyalty there.  His father saw blood on Karel's face following the race and he knows that somehow his brothers either had something to do with it or know who did.

 

  Anyway these are just my thoughts to this point.

 

 

 

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Please use any of the following questions to talk about the characters we've met so far in Wake of Forgiveness:

 

How would you describe Karel as a son, as a brother, as a farmer, as a husband? Can you understand the loyalty he showed his father in the race against Graciela or in the fight after? Was it loyalty at all?

 

 

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
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 

Karel never says he loves Sophie.  “He lies regularly with her because he adores her”.  They are married 5 years, 2 daughters and another baby on the way.  He describes Sophie as a good women, kind and hearty and generous and she puts up with his ways only for a future with him.  He has a certain way of smiling at her and he does it when he wants his way as he knows she can't resist him then.  He suspects she knows about his indiscretions but is willing to overlook them to be with him.  Or, had she bore witness to Karel’s abuse with the heifer when he kicked it where it would hurt but not show, and was she afraid of abuse herself?  Sophie even comments to him “everything is a ledger with you”.  It's as if Karel can't just give and not receive.  

 

He can be gentle with her, stroke her belly, but he is never completely with her emotionally 100%.  He can’t get Graciela out of his mind.  He sees Eliska and he desires her even while his wife is in labor and spends the night with her.  He thinks of Sophie as a chattel, bargaining with the congregants in church when her water breaks:  take care of my wife and I’ll dance with your daughters.  He thinks nothing of being out drinking during his wife's labor nor of spending the night with Eliska when he should be taking care of his daughters.  Sophie knows he wants a son to help with the farming and giving him a son will make Karel happy.

 

We know Karel goes to church but he is not religious.  He says he'll repeat the story that Sophie went into labor at the precise moment that the body of Christ had touched his tongue, that it was as if the sacrifice of one son had allowed for the arrival of another.  I do believe there is a somewhat semi-soft side to Karel and he does show it towards Sophie and also seems to be gentle with the girls.  Even though Sophie thought Karel might drive her all the way back home and she'd have to finish out her labor in the back of the truck, Karel did show compassion and/or understanding here and let Vrana take care of her and the girls.  Karel's place was with his children and not drinking and with Elizka. 

 

Sophie was the first human Karel bonded with, where there was any trust.  Stretching the definition of a "bond", you can say one existed between Karel and his father when it came to racing.  Karel knew he could win the races and win land for his father.  Even though his father never praised him for winning, there was his satisfaction knowing that he helped his father increase his acreage.  The true bonds that Karel had were to Whiskey (being like "one" when racing) and in understanding the earth and nature; Sophie and his family were just there as part of a family package.

 

 

 

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Suyai
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

I've found most of these characters to be well rounded instead of poorly defined caricatures that you too often see in western novels. Vaclav is a man formed from his environment and ultimately a survivor, so while I don't necessarily like him- I also can't bring myself to hate him.

The author does a beautiful job of weaving an understanding of him throughout the chapters. We know he immigrated from Bohemia to Texas as a young man- likely leaving a life of poverty and political/religious oppression to undertake a dangerous journey to a new country. To then scrape out a living, possibly alone as we haven't seen mention of other family members in Texas, would have certainly hardened him, and he states in the beginning that he was always a hard man and Klara only softened that.

I think Klara's death certainly affected him deeply, as evidenced by his refusal to touch Karel, but we never really see how he treats the boys prior to her death. If we go by her death scene he's not overly affectionate towards the boys but also makes the effort to remove her body before they wake- a covert act of caring. Then raising 4 very young boys alone while building and maintaining his farm? That would be a daunting task even in the modern world, much less for a man who has probably experienced cruelty and harshness first hand- he certainly wouldn't allow his sons to develop any perceived weakness from being too soft or kind.

At one point Widow Vrana states that it was well known throughout the county that Klara wouldn't have died if she had received care earlier, I wonder if Vaclav carries guilt over her death?

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reader76
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Karel as the son is portrayed as someone who did not get validity in all his life.  He feels like he kind of killed his mother because she died giving birth.  His father ignores him and leaves him to fend for himself with brothers.  He never got the love or recognition he longed for from his mother or father.  As a farmer, Karel is like his father not in the sense of using his own children as plow horses but where he is a hard worker who puts in long hours from day break to dusk trying to work the land and make profit from it.  As a husband, he loves his wife but does not know how to show it.  He is cheating on her because does not have complete emotional connection to her and because he wonders what if of having been with Graciela. 

He showed loyalty to his father during the race and after the race because even though he knew he was losing the race, he finished as best as he could.  He fought for his father against his brothers. 

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salander_9277
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

How would you describe Karel as a son, as a brother, as a farmer, as a husband?

I think his past has molded him.  Without his father's affection he was made to desire it even more deeply.  As a farmer, he seems to do it because it's what he knows.  As a husband, he seems to be lacking.

 

Can you understand the loyalty he showed his father in the race against Graciela or in the fight after?

That was shocking to me.  I felt like he had little choice however, since he lost the race his brothers would be leaving him alone with his father.  He had to defend him in order to maintain some level of respect from his father.

 

Was it loyalty at all?

I don't think so.  I think it was more that he was fighting his brothers who failed to help him have a fair race and also to maintain his father's respect.

 

How would you describe any of the following influential men of Lavaca County: Vaclav, Dalton, Villasenor, Dvorak, Father Carew?

Vaclav - has a hard heart from the loss of his wife. 

Villasenor - seems slimy to me; like he'd slip poison into your drink if you pissed him off.

Father Carew - I felt like he knew much more about the others than they seemed to know about themselves.

 

 

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Madgy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Karel is a good son. He does what his father asks even though he receives no affection from him in return.   He is bitter towards his brothers because they have cast him aside and yet still at the race he covered for them.   I believe farming was all he had because he was alone so he learned it well and works hard.   As a husband I would have to question if Karel would even know how to love anyoneoveless way he grew up. 

 

Father Carew to me is showing that even the good guy is having a hard time resisting temptation.  It will be interesting to see the direction this character goes.

 

I think Sophie is a kind and patient woman.  I think she softens him a little like his mother did to his father because of the part where he is playing with his girls.

 

Graciela has learned the effect she has on Karel and uses that to her advantage. I'm not sure yet if it's because she is attracted to him or not.

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Madgy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

As a husband I would have to question whether Karel would know how to love anyone after the loveless way he grew up.

 

Sorry typing too fast!!!!

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ssizemore
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

So much of Vaclav's character is described in the prologue on page 5:

"The townsfolk would assume, from this day forward that Klara's death had turned a gentle man bitter and hard, but the truth, Vaclav knew, was that her absence only rendered him, again, the man he'd been before he'd met her, one only her proximity had softened.  He'd known land in his life that, before a few seasons of regular rainfall, had been hard enough to crack a plow point, and he knew that if, by stubborness of circumstance, that earth became yours to farm, you'd do well to live with the constant understanding that, in time, absent the work of swollen clouds and providence, your boots would fall loudly, giving rise to dust, when you walked in your fields."

The land is hard without the softening effect of rain and the man is hard without the softening provided by his wife.  It never says that he loves her--only that her proximity softened him.  He was a hard man and all of his relationships indicate that.

I marked this passage as I began reading and found it to be true as I read along.

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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

[ Edited ]

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far?

 

Not certain I understand a woman who had borne two children, yet was determined to go to Mass so close to delivery of her third.  Even in such days, I can't imagine having one's water break at the Communion rail, although all sorts of things happen to women at childbirth.  It made a good story, both for the plot and for Karel later.

 

I was glad she delivered a son, to Karel's surprise.  The description of the midwife's efforts and what Sophie must have gone through was gruelling, but not unlike others encountered in literature.  What has been different about the depiction of pregnancy in WoF is all the descriptions of what might be the sensations and feelings of being in the womb, especially between Karel and his mother, but elsewhere as well.

 

Pepper

"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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salander_9277
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


Peppermill wrote:

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far?

 

Not certain I understand a woman who had borne two children, yet was determined to go to Mass so close to delivery of her third.  Even in such days, I can't imagine having one's water break at the Communion rail, although all sorts of things happen to women at childbirth.  It made a good story, both for the plot and for Karel later.

 

I was glad she delivered a son, to Karel's surprise.  The description of the midwife's efforts and what Sophie must have gone through was gruelling, but not unlike others encountered in literature.  What has been different about the depiction of pregnancy in WoF is all the descriptions of what might be the sensations and feelings of being in the womb, especially between Karel and his mother, but elsewhere as well.

 

Pepper


I too, found some of the description incredible.  The way Machart described some sensations and experiences, both physical and emotional, were phenomenal.

 

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. ~W. Somerset Maugham

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maxcat
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

How would you describe Karel as a son, as a brother, as a farmer, as a husband? Can you understand the loyalty he showed his father in the race against Graciela or in the fight after? Was it loyalty at all?

 

Karel has always been abused as a child and continues that in adulthood. As a child, his brothers would look after him but they do get into fights and as for the plowing, Karel is used to that. I can't understand loyalty to someone who is abusive. But, Karel is looking for his father's acceptance that Karel needs. If it is called loyalty here, then that is what Karel wants. But he doesn't get it because he lost the race.

 

How would you describe any of the following influential men of Lavaca County: Vaclav, Dalton, Villasenor, Dvorak, Father Carew?

 

Father Carew is not a very religious man if he is supposed to be blessing the Knedlich twins and he watches the horse race instead. He seems to be obsessed with this and it makes me wonder if he has done  other things not related to priesthood.

 

What are your impressions of each of Karel's brothers?

 

I think they are all abusive and there is no loyalty to anyone there.

 

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far?

 

Sophie seems to be a religious person and loves Karel very much. Whether she knows about his philanderings is not known or she excuses it. I don't get a clear picture of her at this point but I have a feeling she will appear further into the book.

 

What are your impressions of Graciela?

 

My first impression of Graciela is that she is out to get what she wants. She wins the horse race and goes toward home and Karel follows her. She didn't exactly shoo him off the property once they got to her house. She seems to entice Karel at this point.

 

This is a beautifully written book, even though the time shifts are complicated at times. The descriptions of the weather, landscapes and the people are fantastic at this point.

 

 

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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mommybooknerd
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

What are your impressions of Graciela?

 

I really like her.  She is a strong female character that stands on her own.  She may abide her father but she took what she wanted from Karel and moved on.  I think that she was on only beautiful but also a heck of a horse racer.  I think that she added a lot to the story!

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


The loyalty was foremost to Karel himself during any horse race, more so than being directed to his father.  Karel was in the moment and in all his glory when he was racing Whiskey.  He could ride so fast and smooth, couldn't tell himself from the horse or the horse from himself.  The horse was the only living creature he had truly felt one with, that he could reach out to and get something positive back in return.  He felt a bonding to his father only in that his father was his caretaker, provided for him and and that's all he knew his whole life.  Other than being his offspring, their only connection was the horse racing.  He raced for him, made him rich with winning acreage, and in pleasing him this way avoided the attention he would have gotten with the strap.  The one thing in life Karel wanted more than anything was to be held and loved by his mother.  Other than the dreams he had of his mother, where he directed the dreams depending on his mood and circumstances,  Karel wanted to win the race against Graciela, he wanted her for himself.  He believed Graciela could replace his longing for his mother's love.  How loyal can you be to a father who gives you a day free of your chores for your birthday, two extra eggs for breakfast and $1.00, BUT only if you win the race!

 

 

VACLAV:  We don't know much about his past, just that he came over from Bohemia, obtained land, met and married Klara, was very fond of her; she gave him three sons and died giving birth to the fourth.  He was very bitter about her death, couldn't and wouldn't hold his new son nor show any love towards any of the boys.  He worked the boys very hard on the farm, yoked them to the plow while saving his prize horses for breeding and racing.  Kept to himself, except for the races, and couldn't care about anyone else.  He wasn't ameniable to meeting new people, spat on the ground rather than shaking Villasenor's hand.  Farm, farm, farm was his life.

 

 

DVORAK:  Too educated, out of place on the farmland.  Worked in bank, had position of power to foreclose a loan and always gave the impression he was about to foreclose (done with a smile, of course).  Dressed the part of a banker:  vest, jacket, and always touching his watch fob.  He even went to "the" race with trousers stiff and creased hard with starch, dressed for the occasion, you guessed it, waiting to foreclose at the end of the race.

 

DALTON:  Angry with his son, Billy, for losing his land to Vaclav in horserace.  Injects Vaclav's melons with horse laxatives. 

 

VILLASENOR:  Puts on a good front with his black, shiny surry, meticulously dressed, extreme politeness and three daughters.  His sidekicks stick close to his side like bodyguards.  His prize daughter, Graciela, has been primed and taught how to use her body to their advantage.  He purposely arrives late for the horse race, making a grand entrance, and has Graciela walk out of the darkness for effect.  Villasenor is the only one whose shoes are not dirtied by the dry, dusty earth.  There has to be a past here!

 

GRACIELA:  Spoiled, conceited, ego-driven daddy's girl who feels the world should cowtower to her; her father's prodigy.

.

 

TOWN'S PEOPLE:  No allegiance to anyone, only out for a good time, Give them the occasion, they'll drink, gamble and party and go home when it's over.

 

  FATHER CAREW: Now here is an interesting character.  Reminds me of a wannabe.  I wannabe back in the days when I drank, gambled, went to horse races, etc.  He so desperately wants to be part of the townfolk but can't because of his stature.  We don't know the circumstances that brings him to the priesthood.  Was it a calling or getting his life in order?  He remembers his mother's philosophy:  better to live in poverty than to take money from others.  He remembers it all with a shudder.  He continues his drinking on the sly and depends on his old horse, Sarah.  He hides out in the woods to watch the horserace where he won't be seen.

 

 

 

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LindaEducation
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Karel whether out of loyalty or fear - perhaps both -- tries to please his Dad. I like him.

 

Vaclav works his sons too hard and only seems to care about winning.  I don't care for him at all. Seems very cold.

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WawakaJane
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

How would you describe Karel as a son, as a brother, as a farmer, as a husband? Can you understand the loyalty he showed his father in the race against Graciela or in the fight after? Was it loyalty at all?

 

Karl is interesting to me.  At times l liked him, his gentleness with his daughters, love of horses, but other times I was twisted.  His indescresion, misjudgement, and thoughtlessness sometimes turned me off.  All in all, he is likeable.  The author is able to give him a real vulerability, yet strength.  The loyalty with his father is surprising, but understandable. 

 

 

 

What are your impressions of each of Karel's brothers?

 

They are trapped by powerful men.  First their father, then Villasenor.  They desire the strenght to be on their own, yet can't get away from the strongman.  I wonder is Villasenor the hero or the villian for the brothers?

 

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far?

 

Sopie is the genuine wife.  She tries her best and accepts her husband at all levels.  She is strong.  I doubt if Karl realizes her true strength.

 

Do we get a more distinct impression of Elizka Novotny?

 

She longs for a life with a husband, but is unwilling to lose her control in the family business and life.  She will play dirty, yet she has compassion.

 

What are your impressions of Graciela?

 

She's interesting.  A bit spoiled.  Willing to take risks, but yet submits to expectations.

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Mother nature is used as a main character, taking on all different faces:

  • The earth without rain give rise to dust; dust is all over everything
  • The deep, rutted tire tracks allow vehicles to be driven with minimal steering
  • The swollen rush of the current over stones
  • Half starved coyotes, wind blowing, get scent of blood, start howling, insects start buzzing, cows all gather together at fence, horses become restless at the sound of the coyotes. The distant complaints of animals come alive in the night.
  • Clouds and wind are used to describe a setting, to pause in thought, change scene: low line of heavy clouds. Fields of alfalfa and the smells of coming rain. The wind picks up out of the west. Stray wisps of cotton swirled in the wind. Moon cast long shadows, make something indistinct or an animated shadow
  • Horses leave steaming heaps on the hard-packed road, night smells, outdoor comfort of woodsmoke and hose dung.
  • Worry over rainfall and boll weeevils