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jabrkeKB
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

The only sympathy I feel for Vaclav is that his wife died in childbirth and he was left to raise four sons alone.

 

The brothers seem to be spinning in their own orbits, not really connecting with each other. They have had a hard childhood,losing their mother and being treated like cattle by their father.

 

I think Karel misses his mother very much. He is the only son who never knew her and he fantasize her as his protector.

 

The shifts in time have been a little confusing, but overall I am enjoying the story.

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PiperMurphy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (pappy)


Rachel-K wrote:

An interesting point! Hard labor is often expected of children in very hard times. 

 

Vaclav was about the richest man in the county, yet he put the yoke on his boys rather than get farm animals for the labor.

 

Is it sheer cruelty for the pleasure of it, or is it cheapness? Was there ever a time when the way he drove the boys was actually out of necessity? Or does that even matter in terms of understanding this character?


I've thought quite a bit about this, and it is the one thing that I most want to find an answer for. Vaclav has a lot of land, but he has obtained a lot of it by gambling. Is he land poor? He has the land, but not the means to make it produce. Making his sons pull a plow is certainly not an efficient way to raise a crop. We know so little about Vaclav's background. Maybe he is a poor businessman, but he has discovered that he can use Karel's horsemanship to obtain some wealth, or prestige. He's a landowner after all.

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DSaff
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

The author does have a way with descriptions, and I loved the picture the quote you mentioned painted for me.  :smileyhappy:


liljulsie wrote:

I have had a hard time reading the begining of this book as I despise most of the characters so far. It also is made difficult because of the time changes as in that its not a straight forward story. I would find a better description of Vaclav after Klara's death as unmitigated cruelty and heartlessness. I am sure that he was cruel even before Klara died. As the main character seemes to be Karel, I have found him to be not much different than his father in his thinking but different in his actions. I may have been able to like him or atleast feel pity for him until he kicked the cow for a second time.

 

I love the authors descriptiveness of scenery, the feel of the weather it is so well done that I can feel it. So far this it what has kept me reading. 

 

For example quoted from the book

 

All of the cool afternoon, a steadywind has swept across the brittle pastureland and bristled throuh the needles of the spindly creekside pines,and now, with the two finish-line fires whipped alive and spitting embers, a sliver of moon flashes behind the low scrim of clouds with all the coy promise of a womans's pale skin showing itself beneath the sheer quise of worn stocking.  

 


Rachel-K wrote:

Please use any of the following questions to help dive into our discussion of The Wake of Forgiveness, or post your own thoughts and questions for the group!  

 

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?

 

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?

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

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? 



 


Rachel-K wrote:

Please use any of the following questions to help dive into our discussion of The Wake of Forgiveness, or post your own thoughts and questions for the group!  

 

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?

 

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?

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

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? 



 

  


 

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annemd
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (pappy)

My feeling was that he drove the boys in the way he did to avoid an emotional connection with them.  He treated animals like people and people like animals.  I do not think this was motivated by financial gain, as he could have developed his boys to be assets, had he been inclined to form a connection with them.

AnneMD
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jbg78
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

I have read the entire book.  I had a hard time with the way the time frame worked. I wasn't fond of any of the male characters in the book.  I will say that the writing was well done.

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb~
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vpenning
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 


 

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?

 

No, I do not feel sympathy towards his character. I feel angry that he has treated his boys the way he does, and I feel like his son does that his death is almost a blessing to the world.

 

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

Having two boys, I understand the love that goes on with brothers, and how through the years the relationship can change. The boys seem to love Karel, and they have almost a mothering type relationship with him...but, they also have their own lives, and their own wants that do not necessarily include their brother. They love him, but they also need to grow. They also have a history with their father that Karel may not know, and it influences how they perceive their futures. It does not mean they do not value or love their youngest, just that they can love him and also wish for their own lives. Karel is too young to understand at the time of the race, and it appears that perhaps the fight after the race (and the affair with one of his brother's intended) is a rift that may be difficult to overcome. However, I think through the course of the book, the brothers will come to an understanding, and Karel will get his family back.

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

His thoughts are fantasy...almost childlike. Much too fantastical for someone of 15. But, Karel has had a life that has been bereft of love, and this fantasy mother is the only mother source he has. Even though his brothers have helped to care for him, and most likely have had mothering tendencies, the angst and violence that permeates their household makes it difficult for even the brothers to show Karel the love he needs.

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

I am not certain I like going back in time knowing the outcome. Knowing that Karel lost the race and had a relationship with the brother's wife made the chapters seem almost bereft of suspense.

 

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 think that in both cases it shows the men's priorities. Whereby the Mexican appears to value his family (it might prove otherwise), and their future, Karel's father values his things and his farm above all else.



 

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Kittysmom
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

[ Edited ]

I'm going to be honest and say I am having a hard time with this book.  The characters including Vaclav are not likeable at all and I do not think Vaclav had any love for Klara but just as a way of producing sons for him.  He seems to be a very mean and vindictive man with not an ounce of goodness in him!  I feel no sympathy for him at all, at least not "yet"!  And I keep hoping there will be some goodness that I see in him and Karel but it's not there yet.

 

Karel seems to care for his wife when he is with her but is a cruel and unfaithful man otherwise as he shows when his wife is having her baby!  They both seem to have no feeling for the land or the animals with the cruelness they have shown, and to be honest has sickened me while reading.

 

I don't believe the brothers have any kind of a good relationship, at least not a great one.

 

I also have no understanding of why Vaclev used his sons to plow the fields and disfigure them for life, it just seems very cruel and demeaning and show no love for them and I can't figure it out!  Can anyone help me with this?

 

All in all so far, like I said in the beginning, I am having a hard time with this and really hope and pray it gets better because I do want to continue reading it because I am truly hoping I can start enjoying it more!

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Kittysmom
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (pappy)

I believe that Vaclav put the harnesses on his boys -not out of pleasure or cheapness- he is just a mean and vindictive man who blames the birth of his boys for Klara's death and it is a form punishment from someone who doesn't know how to love either his own sons or animals!

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Kittysmom
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

I agree with you about the time shifts, it does get a little difficult at time and I also have to go back sometimes to catch myself up on why I'm reading about something particular!

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Kittysmom
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

I agree with you about Karel missing his mother because he did not know her and maybe feels a bit responsible for her death but all he know is his fathers intense (with lack of a better word) meanness and responds to that!

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JerseyAngel
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

I've had somewhat of a hard time reading this. I hadn't expected the book to be so hard, for some many people to be mean, heartless, abused, etc.

 

Vaclav is clearly a man that is angry. A stone wall went up around his heart the day his wife died. His sons are constant reminders of her and I think this is partially why he harnesses them. He blames them for her loss, he hates them for being alive when she isn't, etc. And like many people who are angry or hurt, they take it out on everyone around them. He abuses his sons & his animals, he takes whatever he can from his neighbors, he takes joy in making others as angry or hurt as he is. I don't think it has much to do with greed as it does just the satisfaction he gets from causing other people suffering.

 

Karel is a product of abuse. He almost doesn't seem to realize that how his father treats him & his brothers is wrong. He wants attention & love from his father so badly that even the crack of a whip is welcome because it's from his father. Unfortunately, he was also never shown how to love. He has a wife that he knows is a good woman and children but he has no idea how to really love her because who ever showed him? What examples did he have? So instead he has sex with another woman while his wife suffers in labor giving birth to his first son. Maybe he dislikes her a little for not being Graciela, the woman he really wanted & maybe would have loved but instead she is with his brother. Lost in a horse bet like a piece of property.

 

I didn't care much for the shift in time. I didn't see a point to it. It also kind of ruined the race, something that could have been very suspenseful but we already knew the outcome. So instead it just seemed long & uninteresting. I just kept wanting it to be over so I could see what happened next. I wanted to see how Vaclav would react to his son losing.

 

I keep hoping that this story will somehow change a little. I know back then the relationships between people were different. Fathers were harder on their sons & maybe not as loving to their wives as they should have been. It's an interesting story but also very depressing.

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BookWoman718
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)


DarcyPDX wrote:

 

.

 

I think the brothers do have a strong relationship with each other.  It's not necessarily a healthy or loving one, but it is significant.  Hard to believe that children who have been literally harnessed to a plow so much that their spines are deformed wouldn't have strong ties to each other.  I think symbolically Machart underscores their connection by the cant of their heads - two left-leaning and two right-leaning so they form living parentheses around their shared experiences.

 

--Darcy


Why do you suppose neither the father nor the boys thought to just switch their positions from one side to the other on a regular basis?   I found it hard to believe such an easy solution wouldn't have occured to them.  When I first read Bruce's description of the experience that had led to this feature of the novel, I had assumed that the harness fit in such a way that all the boys were tipped in one direction.  But when I read  that two-left and two-right description, I was just confused.  Just change positions!  Problem solved....  Beyond the fact that they should never have been hitched up at all, of course.

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joyfull
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 


JSkellington wrote:

I found Vaclav to be a poor father. I do not think that he was necessarily a bad person he just did not understand children or how to deal with them. He overall seems to be a self serving person and only has concern for his "things" and how he can gain more. I believe he is the way he is because of his upbringing. In those times things were so different from now it is hard to see it from their point of view. Children had to work in order for the family to survive in a lot of cases. Society today has no concept of this. So far the book has been very entertaining and looking forward to reading more this week.


Hi,

While I agree that there were certainly times in our history when children worked in order for the family to survive, on farms and in factories, I don't think it justifies the practice of abusing minors. Our child labor laws were enacted to prevent the abuses of these children.

Vaclav didn't merely require his children to work, he treated them like farm animals, yoking them to the equipment like horses or oxen. Also, I believe he could probably have easily afforded to have animals do the work his sons provided. He was the biggest landowner.

He was a good father until his wife died so I think he did know that there was a right and wrong way to raise his children and that he did know the difference. I think when she died, his heart died. He reverted, he says, to what he was before he met her and I can only think he must have been one awful human being. No matter what anyone's background is, it is not a legitimate excuse to mistreat anyone and I believe that it is unforgivable to be as cruel and heartless as he became.



 

WanderingJew:

 

I see Vaclav as worse than before his marriage. At least during his time with Klara he learned to be a caring husband and father. Now he knows better but willingly chooses to go back to his old ways. I agree with you that his behavior is unforgivable. He know better yet choose to abuse his sons. There is nothing to like in this character.



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katiegirl
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

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 is a terrible husband by today's standards, but perhaps back then, his actions were accepted. He clearly didn't marry someone he was passionate about. Graciela was his true love. I think that Karel saw the race with Graciela as an opportunity to leave his father and be on his own, but prior to that, Karel was loyal to his father and brothers.

What are your impressions of each of Karel's brothers? Scared and confused as to why their father used them like animals for work. I think that they were happy to get out and start their own families.

What kind of a person is Sophie, Karel's wife? Do we get a clear picture of her so far? Obident, and has true love her Karel and her children. Would have loved to know more about her background.

Do we get a more distinct impression of Elizka Novotny? Not really, other than she seems to be well respected.

What are your impressions of Graciela? Manipulative. She knows how to use her looks to get what she wants. A bit spolied too.

katiegirl
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Vermontcozy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

The immigrant aspect..Vaclav..Is an outsider..Bitter about losing his wife,and during the years that follow,blames his son Karel.for all that has gone wrong in his life.Even though he has aquired land ,is fairly well off.He is still an immigrant. Plus he is weak..No.,I haven't any sympathy for him at this point....The brothers being raised by Vaclav..Only know what they have been exposed to..They have love for the land,their horses..but can't understand loving relationships.I believe it  was Karel,that looks over at Dalton and his son and see's tenderness being displayed between  father and son..he has never known that kind of love,except in his fantasies about his mother.....I was fine with the shifting of chapters,I had to pay closer attention..which I did,to fully get the drift of where Bruce was taking us..Karel is crippled not only physically,but emotionally..So,I wouldn't expect him to understand about the Carriage horses..Fear of their father,showing any love for each other is very cloudy..I was glad to know that Vaclav died..So as I continue reading,  Which I haven't gone into the second half of the book yet ,I have hope.for the brothers...Susan..

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Atreyu59
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 



 

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?

I have no compassion nor care for a person such as Vaclav.  He was in my mind a brutal and uncaring man that could only care of his own interpersonal concerns at the expense of others.  Yes a man harsh and bitter by his environment, yet I do not buy into the belief that he is 100% influenced only by his environ.

 

 

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 do feel Vaclav felt he was someway (innately) connected to his son Karel; even though I think he blamed Karel for the death of his wife, during childbirth; considering if Karel wasn't born perhaps she would not have perished? 

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

Yes, there is a relationship, whether healthy or not is another question.  I don't feel they bonded enough to allow them to grow into decent men though.

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

Odd, that he needed his mother even though she was never a part of his life after birth

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

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? 



 

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cmmn
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

I have to agree that it's hard to like any of the characters.  The writing is beautiful and you really feel that you are there but I find it very depressing.  I found the switching of time very confusing to begin with.  I have to keep going back to figure out where the chapter fits into the whole story.

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dhaupt
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Good morning everyone I hope you all had a great holiday weekend

I'll dive in with answers to Rachel's great questions before I read all the other responses.

So here goes

 

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?

 

I don't feel sympathy for Vaclav, I do empathize with his emotions and think I understand where he's coming from, do I agree with his actions- no. This isn't the first story where the innocent child has been blamed for his mother's dying in childbirth. And I do agree with the author's description of him as bitter and hard, I do think he in his own hard and bitter way loved his wife and is still mourning her loss by taking it out on his sons. What I do find appalling however is the fact that Vaclav as a wealthy land owner puts his sons in the harness to plow the fields.

 

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 don't see Vaclav show tenderness, pride or respect to anything, not horses as he makes a gelding out of Whiskey's sire to prevent anyone else from getting a colt off him and expects to do the same with Whiskey too. He respects his self, finds faults with everyone else.

Karel on the other hand I think has shown me so far in the novel that he's a compassionate loving father even though he has no sons at first. He respects his wife (I know, I know he's a snake for cheating on her-but remember when this is), but I think he prays to the all might dollar above all.

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

It's really hard for me to tell too much about a relationship between the brothers,   that hasn't been explored enough for me to form an opinion, we don't see them growing up (yet), what I do see is that they only interact between each other when required by their father. The scene in the bedroom after they meet the girls did make me smile and that's pretty typical reactions for boys that age.

 

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?

 

I would describe his imaginings of his mother as a combination of what he's seen between mothers and children in town etc and what he wishes had taken place.

 

What effect do the shifts in time between chapters have on your understanding of this family's story?

 

I think it's an effective way that the author has in telling the story, instead of having his characters remember things from the past he shows us how it really happened. It doesn't bother me at all except that there always seems to be a cliff hanger at the end and I really want to sneak a peek at the continuation of the last act.

 

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? 

 

it seems to Karel that horseflesh is more precious than the skin of his own sons

 

 

 

 

 

 


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BethAnnH
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 

I have to agree with you,  I am having a very hard time reading this book, while it is well written I can not get into this book for a lot of the reason you described below.   There is not one character that I have found with any redeeming qualities, at this point.  Usually I read a book rather quickly, but am  finding it hard to pick this one, up and to  keep going.  


JerseyAngel wrote:

I've had somewhat of a hard time reading this. I hadn't expected the book to be so hard, for some many people to be mean, heartless, abused, etc.

 

Vaclav is clearly a man that is angry. A stone wall went up around his heart the day his wife died. His sons are constant reminders of her and I think this is partially why he harnesses them. He blames them for her loss, he hates them for being alive when she isn't, etc. And like many people who are angry or hurt, they take it out on everyone around them. He abuses his sons & his animals, he takes whatever he can from his neighbors, he takes joy in making others as angry or hurt as he is. I don't think it has much to do with greed as it does just the satisfaction he gets from causing other people suffering.

 

Karel is a product of abuse. He almost doesn't seem to realize that how his father treats him & his brothers is wrong. He wants attention & love from his father so badly that even the crack of a whip is welcome because it's from his father. Unfortunately, he was also never shown how to love. He has a wife that he knows is a good woman and children but he has no idea how to really love her because who ever showed him? What examples did he have? So instead he has sex with another woman while his wife suffers in labor giving birth to his first son. Maybe he dislikes her a little for not being Graciela, the woman he really wanted & maybe would have loved but instead she is with his brother. Lost in a horse bet like a piece of property.

 

I didn't care much for the shift in time. I didn't see a point to it. It also kind of ruined the race, something that could have been very suspenseful but we already knew the outcome. So instead it just seemed long & uninteresting. I just kept wanting it to be over so I could see what happened next. I wanted to see how Vaclav would react to his son losing.

 

I keep hoping that this story will somehow change a little. I know back then the relationships between people were different. Fathers were harder on their sons & maybe not as loving to their wives as they should have been. It's an interesting story but also very depressing.


 

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

[ Edited ]

 

That's what makes horse racing, pardon the pun. I find it hard to put down and read according to the schedule. It does create a lot of tension in my psyche though, because of the violence.
BethAnnH wrote:

 

I have to agree with you,  I am having a very hard time reading this book, while it is well written I can not get into this book for a lot of the reason you described below.   There is not one character that I have found with any redeeming qualities, at this point.  Usually I read a book rather quickly, but am  finding it hard to pick this one, up and to  keep going.  


JerseyAngel wrote:

I've had somewhat of a hard time reading this. I hadn't expected the book to be so hard, for some many people to be mean, heartless, abused, etc.

 

Vaclav is clearly a man that is angry. A stone wall went up around his heart the day his wife died. His sons are constant reminders of her and I think this is partially why he harnesses them. He blames them for her loss, he hates them for being alive when she isn't, etc. And like many people who are angry or hurt, they take it out on everyone around them. He abuses his sons & his animals, he takes whatever he can from his neighbors, he takes joy in making others as angry or hurt as he is. I don't think it has much to do with greed as it does just the satisfaction he gets from causing other people suffering.

 

Karel is a product of abuse. He almost doesn't seem to realize that how his father treats him & his brothers is wrong. He wants attention & love from his father so badly that even the crack of a whip is welcome because it's from his father. Unfortunately, he was also never shown how to love. He has a wife that he knows is a good woman and children but he has no idea how to really love her because who ever showed him? What examples did he have? So instead he has sex with another woman while his wife suffers in labor giving birth to his first son. Maybe he dislikes her a little for not being Graciela, the woman he really wanted & maybe would have loved but instead she is with his brother. Lost in a horse bet like a piece of property.

 

I didn't care much for the shift in time. I didn't see a point to it. It also kind of ruined the race, something that could have been very suspenseful but we already knew the outcome. So instead it just seemed long & uninteresting. I just kept wanting it to be over so I could see what happened next. I wanted to see how Vaclav would react to his son losing.

 

I keep hoping that this story will somehow change a little. I know back then the relationships between people were different. Fathers were harder on their sons & maybe not as loving to their wives as they should have been. It's an interesting story but also very depressing.