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tcg60
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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 seems to be a good father and a decent husband, notwithstanding his affair. His relationship with Elizka seems to be one of opportunity for both of them. I also don't think he was showing his father loyalty in the fight after the race. I think he was fighting out of all the cruelty he'd endured over the years by his father and probably his brothers. At the point I'm at in the book, the brothers don't seem close at all. I was surprised Vaclav took the loss of the race out on Karel's brothers and not on Karel.
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LadyMin
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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?

 

At this point I see Karel as a victim of the abuse he suffered from his father. I don't think loyalty was involved. He did what he was trained to do. His father treated the horses better than his sons.

 

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

 

Everyone seems to have their own agendas. I'm not entirely sure yet what those are. Villasenor wants power and control.

 

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far?  Do we get a more distinct impression of Elizka Novotny? What are your impressions of Graciela?

 

The women are strong characters. I want to like Sophie. I don't know enough about her yet. I think she is good for Karel. He loves her but does he deserve her? There seems to be an understanding, a tenderness, between them.

 

Elizka is an independant woman and she's out to prove it. She takes control. So far I like her but we haven't learned enough about her in the first section.

 

Graciela is a firecracker. She is dangerous. I like the character but I'm not sure I'd want her as a friend, and I definitely wouldn't want her near my husband.

 

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Jennmarie68
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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?

 

As a son I think Karel is obedient, I haven't decided if this is to appease his father (maybe gain acceptance from him) or if it is simply to prevent being the brunt of his anger. I think he's confused about what kind of relationship he should have with his father. 

 

In the beginning I would have said that he was loyal to his brothers, but after the race I don't think that really applies anymore. I know it's normal for siblings to fight over everything, but I think the fight at the end was more than a brother's squabble. I believe it had more to do with Graciela and knowing that he can never have her than it did for standing up for his father. 

 

As a farmer he seems to be at the very least adept. The book tells us that he really doesn't have a mind for "the books" and it appears that he makes a decent amount of money selling barley beer. So maybe the farm is just to keep up appearances. 

 

As a husband I think he is despicable. I get the feeling that he uses his wife, for children, to keep the books, etc. as opposed to really loving her. But we've not been clued in to how they met and the circumstances surrounding their marriage. So maybe there is a reason for this. Even before we see Karel cheating on his wife, while she's in labor, I didn't get the feeling that he really had any true loyalty to her.

 

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

 

Vaclav is broken, not that excuses his behavior, but I think the death of his wife killed any good that was in his character. 

 

I don't really have a good idea of Dalton or Dvorak yet. 

 

Villasenor is odd. He comes to town with all his money and his girls but we've not been clued into why he came to Lavaca. I'm sure there were many other places he could have gone and given his daughters away in marriage. There's something that's brought him here, and I'm eager to find out exactly what it was. 

 

Father Carew I think has become a preacher for the wrong reasons. His love for his mother seems to be at the heart of it, as he wants to help the women of the parish, maybe something for them he couldn't do for his mother. But I also think that Sarah, the woman whom he named his horse after, may have something to do with this also. I would like to know more about who Sarah is and why he loved her so much. I think the scene when Karel finds him hugging his horse shows that he some how feels connected to this Sarah through the horse. I hope this Sarah is introduced also. 

 

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

 

So far I just get the impression that Karel's brothers despise their father and want to get out of his house. Other than that I haven't really figured them out yet. 

 

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

 

I don't really know what to make of Sophie yet. She's definitely strong-willed and devout. But I want to know more about how her and Karel met and if there were any "circumstances" surrounding their marriage. 

 

Do we get a more distinct impression of Elizka Novotny?

 

I have the feeling that she wants more out of her life than she has. Even though she's got her father's business and says she doesn't want a man to ruin it I think she loves Karel and maybe wishes she'd made different choices about their relationship. I'm wondering if she had a chance to marry Karel and didn't and now she regrets it??? 

 

What are your impressions of Graciela?

 

I haven't gotten a good idea of who Graciela is. She's loyal to her father. I get the impression that they have a good relationship, but there's something we've not been made privy to yet. She seems compassionate. I don't think she had ill intentions going to the barn before the race. I think maybe she has a way with animals and was trying to get a feel for Whiskey before the race. 

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

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Jennmarie68
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 

He put his needs before the needs of his G-d and his parishioners, especially to the Knedlich twins awaiting their baptism. 

I agree. I think he went out with the impression of baptizing the twins as a way to make sure he was around to see the race. I don't think that was his true intention when he left, but if he made himself believe that the baptism was his true goal then maybe it was a way to justify leaving. If he got side tracked, by let's say the race, then at least he had good intentions. 

 

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt
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Jennmarie68
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


DSaff wrote:

I respect her for trying to make her own way, but intensely dislike her for having affairs with married men.

 

 


 

I think having an affair with Karel is inexcusable also, but at the same time I'm wondering if there isn't something more to their relationship that we haven't been privy to yet. I'm almost getting the feeling that there used to be something between them, more than just sex. And that as Elizka's life was thrown off course by her mother's illness whatever they had got pushed aside and instead of waiting for her to work it out Karel went ahead and got married. I'm wondering if things had been different would they have ended up together?

 

I'm getting a sense that maybe she loves him and sleeping with him is her way of keeping him in her life. I'm really anxious to learn more about her...

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

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Jennmarie68
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


Peppermill wrote:

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.

 


I had noticed this too. I wonder if it is because of the lack of affection in his life. Maybe the only affection he figured in his life was that of his mother and since he doesn't have any experience to remember her by the use of the womb is the connection to her? 

 

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt
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wendyroba
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

I found the characters in the book to be exceptionally well developed. I loved the sexual tension between Karel and Graciela. I didn't think the women characters were as complex as the men in the book - but I think the focus was on Karel and his brothers, and Karel and his father - all of whom I felt were deep and conflicted characters to some degree. Karel is clearly a damaged man - from the loss of mothering, to the abuse of his father, to the isolation from his family...he compensates by having affairs even though he loves his wife. When his son is born, he recognizes the responsibility he holds...I think that was a pivotal point for him - a circumstance that made him rethink his relationship with not only his father, but his brothers.

 

Loved this book!

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

For some reason, Sophie must have wanted to have the baby there because if I recollect correcty, she even says she knew the moment she stepped down the baby would be born there and didn't she also tell Karel it would be a son? I am out of town and I don't have the book with me so I can't look back, but I seem to remember that.

Maybe with her other two children, her water did not break before her labor began. Sometimes it doesn't. I had the feeling that she was surprised and a bit embarrassed not only by what had happened, but by Karel's behavior.

I liked the character of the widow Vrana. She was strong and singleminded and didn't pretend to be blind to Karel's philandering, but merely emphatically advised him of what was expected of him.

It is interesting to contrast Karel's behavior and Knedlik's, regarding the treatment of their wives and/or women during the childbirth scenes. I have to admit it took me a bit of effort to sort them out and get them straight.

 


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


 

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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


Jennmarie68 wrote:

 


Peppermill wrote:

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.

 


I had noticed this too. I wonder if it is because of the lack of affection in his life. Maybe the only affection he figured in his life was that of his mother and since he doesn't have any experience to remember her by the use of the womb is the connection to her? 

 


Certainly I agree with you that the womb represents the one period in his life that Karel can imagine actually having been close to his mother, so describing such was a beautiful plausible occurrence.  I just don't recall having ever read another book (and there may be many of them) that has imagined the feelings of the child in the womb.  It is also fascinating to have my first encounter with such descriptions be in a book written by a man.

 

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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bibanon1
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

I'm only 3/4 of the way through the novel and I think many of you are unduly hard on Karel. He is absolutely a flawed human being.  He never had any sort of maternal care and the author refers to the fact over and over that he never had any physical affection as a child. It has been shown in studies with primates and even with orphaned children how damaging it can be to children to be bereft of physical affection in the formative years.  Karel is damaged. He is brutalized by his father and must ride in a race that only his brothers benefit from. His brotheres gained beautiful wives, wealth and property while Karel had to stick it out with his father.

 

I think Karel tries hard to be a good person but he is constantly looking for the feminine affection that he never had. I think it is unfair to say that Karel treats women badly as his father treated animals badly. I haven't seen Karel beat a woman yet.  But he is unfaithful. I think he cannot stop himself from seeking out female affection because he is starved for it. He can never get enough. Of course he is wrong to cheat on Sophie. Especially when she is giving birth to his child!!!  But I don't think it is mean-spirited. He clearly loves his wife and he is not abusive to her or his lover. 

 

I look forward to seeing what will happen.

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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

TWJ wrote (excerpt):  For some reason, Sophie must have wanted to have the baby there because if I recollect correctly, she even says she knew the moment she stepped down the baby would be born there and didn't she also tell Karel it would be a son?

 

If Sophie "wanted" to have the baby in Praha, I didn't catch a "why," other than possibly she was from there.  I more had the sense she so wanted to go to the Parish event that she was willing to take the risk.  She does respond to Karel's "Squeeze her right out in the pews?" with "If it's the Lord's intention, Karel, I expect I will."  p. 40

 

"His Sophie had it in her mind to drive to evening Mass in Praha for the Feast, for the Jolly Club dance afterward, and there'd never been, in the five years they'd been married, any talking that woman out of a chance to spend time on her knees beneath the painted ceiling of St. Mary's, no matter how pregnant she was." p. 40

 

On that same page, when Sophie asks him why he presumes another girl, Karel replies "Same as always. Dreamt it was a boy."  Then, Karla challenges him: "seems likely--doesn't it--that eventually you've got to be right in your dreams about something."  But Karel ignores her, observing to himself that she is carrying her weight as she had in her two previous pregnancies.

 

When Widow Vrana tells him, Karel replies: "My son, did you say?"  p.72

 

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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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

[ Edited ]

Bibanon wrote [excerpt]:  He clearly loves his wife and he is not abusive to her or his lover.

 

Doesn't that depend upon what is considered to be "abusive"?

 

(True, we read no evidence of physical abuse, such as Karel inflicted on the heifer who had bitten him.  pp. 42-43  However, having read only to p. 132, I am still guessing how to interpret "Damn it, Karel..." from Elizka.)

 

I know others here have deplored Elizka's behavior towards Karel, and I understand and respect that view, but I suspect it was Karel who made a commitment of fidelity before God and community in his marriage vows.

 

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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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Thanks for filling in my blanks, pepper!

twj


Peppermill wrote:

TWJ wrote (excerpt):  For some reason, Sophie must have wanted to have the baby there because if I recollect correctly, she even says she knew the moment she stepped down the baby would be born there and didn't she also tell Karel it would be a son?

 

If Sophie "wanted" to have the baby in Praha, I didn't catch a "why," other than possibly she was from there.  I more had the sense she so wanted to go to the Parish event that she was willing to take the risk.  She does respond to Karel's "Squeeze her right out in the pews?" with "If it's the Lord's intention, Karel, I expect I will."  p. 40

 

"His Sophie had it in her mind to drive to evening Mass in Praha for the Feast, for the Jolly Club dance afterward, and there'd never been, in the five years they'd been married, any talking that woman out of a chance to spend time on her knees beneath the painted ceiling of St. Mary's, no matter how pregnant she was." p. 40

 

On that same page, when Sophie asks him why he presumes another girl, Karel replies "Same as always. Dreamt it was a boy."  Then, Karla challenges him: "seems likely--doesn't it--that eventually you've got to be right in your dreams about something."  But Karel ignores her, observing to himself that she is carrying her weight as she had in her two previous pregnancies.

 

When Widow Vrana tells him, Karel replies: "My son, did you say?"  p.72

 

Pepper

 


 

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

I had the feeling that Elizka was angry because Karel might have put her at risk of becoming pregnant, by satisfying his own needs without protecting her. It was his smile that made me think he felt that he had done something careless, good for him, not for her.

I agree that he broke his vows and is far more guilty.

 


Peppermill wrote:

Bibanon wrote [excerpt]:  He clearly loves his wife and he is not abusive to her or his lover.

 

Doesn't that depend upon what is considered to be "abusive"?

 

(True, we read no evidence of physical abuse, such as Karel inflicted on the heifer who had bitten him.  pp. 42-43  However, having read only to p. 132, I am still guessing how to interpret "Damn it, Karel..." from Elizka.)

 

I know others here have deplored Elizka's behavior towards Karel, and I understand and respect that view, but I suspect it was Karel who made a commitment of fidelity before God and community in his marriage vows.

 

Pepper


 

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

Thanks for filling in my blanks, Pepper!

twj


 

TWJ -- I had the book; besides your comments here, I believe you had said earlier too that you weren't taking it with you, or at least might not have easy access to these boards.  :smileyvery-happy:

 

Hope you are having a good holiday with family and friends.  I believe "Happy New Year" is the appropriate greeting?

 

P

"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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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

I had the feeling that Elizka was angry because Karel might have put her at risk of becoming pregnant, by satisfying his own needs without protecting her. It was his smile that made me think he felt that he had done something careless, good for him, not for her.

I agree that he broke his vows and is far more guilty.

 


Peppermill wrote:

Bibanon wrote [excerpt]:  He clearly loves his wife and he is not abusive to her or his lover.

 

Doesn't that depend upon what is considered to be "abusive"?

 

(True, we read no evidence of physical abuse, such as Karel inflicted on the heifer who had bitten him.  pp. 42-43  However, having read only to p. 132, I am still guessing how to interpret "Damn it, Karel..." from Elizka.)

 

I know others here have deplored Elizka's behavior towards Karel, and I understand and respect that view, but I suspect it was Karel who made a commitment of fidelity before God and community in his marriage vows.

 

Pepper


 


 

"guilty"  "accountable" "responsible" ....

 

Not sure of the nuances.

"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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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Thanks so much for your good wishes. (Yes it is the Jewish New Year; we are welcoming in 5771) I am getting ready to go to my son's house for holiday dinner. He/his wife are expecting twins in a couple of weeks, their first. Last night was spent with my daughter and her family.

I just stopped by BN because I love "talking" books and I find the best place to do it is here! :smileyvery-happy:

twj


Peppermill wrote:

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

Thanks for filling in my blanks, Pepper!

twj


 

TWJ -- I had the book; besides your comments here, I believe you had said earlier too that you weren't taking it with you, or at least might not have easy access to these boards.  :smileyvery-happy:

 

Hope you are having a good holiday with family and friends.  I believe "Happy New Year" is the appropriate greeting?

 

P


 

CAG
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CAG
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

I had the feeling that Elizka was angry because Karel might have put her at risk of becoming pregnant, by satisfying his own needs without protecting her. It was his smile that made me think he felt that he had done something careless, good for him, not for her.

I agree that he broke his vows and is far more guilty.

 


Peppermill wrote:

Bibanon wrote [excerpt]:  He clearly loves his wife and he is not abusive to her or his lover.

 

Doesn't that depend upon what is considered to be "abusive"?

 

(True, we read no evidence of physical abuse, such as Karel inflicted on the heifer who had bitten him.  pp. 42-43  However, having read only to p. 132, I am still guessing how to interpret "Damn it, Karel..." from Elizka.)

 

I know others here have deplored Elizka's behavior towards Karel, and I understand and respect that view, but I suspect it was Karel who made a commitment of fidelity before God and community in his marriage vows.

 

Pepper


 


I agree with you. I also had the feeling that Elizka only feared getting pregnant and felt Karel was careless. I see Elizka as simply using Karel for her own needs and certainly Karel was doing the same to her. I think his behavior was typical of many men especially in this time period.

 

CAG
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Pepper, my immediate take on "Karel, you didn't" is that he went "too far" in their sexual episode. He mentions that he hasn't done what he did before. I took that to mean taking control, then losing all control. I think she is now worried about getting pregnant. just my thought

I also agree about Karel. Both he and Elizka are responsible for the affair.

 


Peppermill wrote:

Bibanon wrote [excerpt]:  He clearly loves his wife and he is not abusive to her or his lover.

 

Doesn't that depend upon what is considered to be "abusive"?

 

(True, we read no evidence of physical abuse, such as Karel inflicted on the heifer who had bitten him.  pp. 42-43  However, having read only to p. 132, I am still guessing how to interpret "Damn it, Karel..." from Elizka.)

 

I know others here have deplored Elizka's behavior towards Karel, and I understand and respect that view, but I suspect it was Karel who made a commitment of fidelity before God and community in his marriage vows.

 

Pepper


 

 

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Characters

Need some clarification...

 

I've been reading and rereading the horse race and the Skala family fight over and over, trying to figure out the sequence of who's fighting with whom.  Once the whole Skala family is actively in the fight, bottom of page 110, last paragraph, last four lines:

 

...he (Skala) nods at Karel with a satisfied look on his face that suggests he's been waiting for this since the first of his sons slid wide-eyed and helpless out of their mother and into the world.

 

Now bottom of page 112, last paragraph, last two lines:

 

"Turn him loose," and when Thom spins around with his fists up he finds his old man on his feet with his knife drawn,  waving it...

 

How more blunt could Skala be.  He knew his sons would provide the necessary manpower for working the farm and this was the only reason he needed them; out of necessity for working the farm, not out of love for having children.  Was it only Klara that wanted children?  If it wasn't for the farm, I believe Skala would have abondoned his sons when Klara died.