11-08-2010 01:44 PM
What kind of a man is Vaclav? He sees himself as a man who is "bitter and hard" but had been softened only by being close to Klara during their marriage. Are you able to feel any sympathy for his character in the novel so far?
Vaclav appeared to be a very bitter man! He was a cold, cruel individual who didn't act any differently, even towards his own children. You might think he showed a little sympathy towards their feelings when their mother died. Because he was 'softened' by her, and their relationship, he respectfully took his wife's dead body to the hay loft to spare his sons from seeing her that way.
Do we see Vaclav and Karel show tenderness, pride, or respect in their relationship to land and horses that they don't seem to expect at all in the human relationships within their family?
I think the tenderness and pride are shown more through Karel's experiences with the horses. Vaclav appears to be more on the cruel side. Some of his actions and demands come across as unneccessary. Although the horse generally comply, I feel as though they do so out of fear, fearing a punishment will occur, and not simply because it's what they really want to do.
Is there a relationship between the four brothers?
If think any relationship that may have existed did in the years when they were younger. They may have had a tighter bond at some point but, for now, I'm not feeling the closeness. I really think that the outcome of the race is a major illustration of the disconnect these borhters share. I think there may have been some underlying issues in which the brothers felt as though Vaclav favored Karel. The same can also be said in their beliefs that Karel was responsible for the death of their mother. Saying this, it can be easy to see where their animosity would fall in place.
What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?
I found the changes to be a little difficult to maneuver. I obviously knew they were taking place, but it was hard for me to make that transition. After reading one period of time for a while, I found myself stuck in that frame of mind, and having trouble progressing to the next. The 'flashbacks' provided a good insight as to why the characters were who they were though, which was definitely helpful.
At the end of this first section, Karel expresses some astonishment that Graciela's father would harness fine horses to pull a carriage, but seems to register no irony that his own father has crippled his brothers and himself by making them pull a plow. Do you have any understanding of this?
I feel as though this is the only way of life Karel has known up to this point. He knows nothing else, therefore if is difficult for hiim to challange his father's demands and mistreatment of him and his brothers. From his point of view, although it is definitely cruel, he sees it as normal, which makes it so much easier for him to question the treatment of the animal instead.