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ToniWI
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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? The death of Vaclav's wife prorably added to his "bitter and hard" personality. But, I also see him as a product of his time and upbringing. Many farmers that were poorer, used what ever labor was available. It was not unusual for a family to use human workhorses. The more sons available the more work that could be accomplished. What was cruel was him not strapping a plow to his own back to work the fields. I also see his acquiring race horses as a business opportunity. He saw it as a way to create wealth for his family. His methods were cruel, but they got the job done. Please understand that I am not condoning Vaclavs actions, just trying to understand his thinking, and how that would shape Karel's view of the world.
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ToniWI
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

thewanderinjew Perhaps the boys didn't know they were being abused. When people have been treated a certain way for most or all of their lives, their treatment seems normal. Even when they see that others don't live that way, their life just is.
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

 

That is a scary thought, isn't it? Some people don't even expect to be treated with respect because they have never known it and it has been proven...even when they have known it, often they wind up identifying with their enemy. Isn't that the Stockholm syndrome? Those boys might have been considered hostages because of how they were treated!
I thought that the three older brothers might have had some benefit from their mother's love, but maybe you are right, maybe they were too young to have absorbed anything but the ruthlessness of Vaclav.
ToniWI wrote:
thewanderinjew Perhaps the boys didn't know they were being abused. When people have been treated a certain way for most or all of their lives, their treatment seems normal. Even when they see that others don't live that way, their life just is.

 

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

 

So very well said and exactly the way I feel about Karel. He certainly has a strong dark side with violent tendencies - but he is, so far, the one main character for whom I can feel compassion (other than, possibly, some of the women depicted in this book). I believe that he is definitely a product of his environment - as stated so well below by thewanderingjew, he is the only one of the four brothers who knew nothing of his mother and who knew only the cold, dark, stark, hard life of enslavement to his cruel and heartless father.
The relationship he imagines with his absent mother is heartbreaking. The words that come to mind with respect to him are despair, hopelessness, and surrender (to that despair and to his life and circumstances, and to his baser instincts (perhaps solidifying the idea of him becoming the product of his environment?)
Still, I feel there is hope for him yet.

thewanderingjew wrote:

 

Karel has a dreamed up relationship to his mother. How would you describe his thoughts of her?
Karel is the only son who has never had any relationship with his mother. The other boys may have memories of her warmth and love. He has had no alternative, living with the extreme deprivation and lack of love from his father, but to imagine what his life would have been like with a loving mother.
I think Karel craves a mother's love. He has had little affection from anywhere at all. I felt very sorry for him because the only example he ever witnessed came from a hard, cold, cruel father and brothers who thought it was great fun to torment him. It also must not have been easy to live with the guilt of having caused your mother's death, even though he was really guiltless.
Because he had no other positive examples to follow, I was not surprised that he would be obedient and do cruel things at the suggestion of his father. How could he know it was not the norm? The brothers, however, were older and might have or should have known better. For some reason, in the end, they finally betrayed their demonic father. Why did they use their innocent brother to achieve their freedom and leave him to continue to live a life without mercy? Ultimately, did they learn unshakable cruelty at their father's knee?

 

 

 

 


 


 

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

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 

That is a scary thought, isn't it? Some people don't even expect to be treated with respect because they have never known it and it has been proven...even when they have known it, often they wind up identifying with their enemy. Isn't that the Stockholm syndrome? Those boys might have been considered hostages because of how they were treated!
I thought that the three older brothers might have had some benefit from their mother's love, but maybe you are right, maybe they were too young to have absorbed anything but the ruthlessness of Vaclav.
ToniWI wrote:
thewanderinjew Perhaps the boys didn't know they were being abused. When people have been treated a certain way for most or all of their lives, their treatment seems normal. Even when they see that others don't live that way, their life just is.

 


 

I totally agree with the statements here, it's a proven fact that a person who's been abused from a young age doesn't know any better and it's why a lot of victims become the next generation of abusers.

 

I also agree with the statement that the boys were too young when their mom died, the oldest was 5, that's old enough to remember her kindness and caring but before she really has time to give her influence.

 

I did find it odd that even though he treated his sons like this, they still attended school

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

Vaclav is cruel and sadistic - I can feel absolutely no sympathy up to this point of the book.

 

I do not believe that Vaclav shows tenderness, pride or respect in his relationship to anything.

 

Karel does exhibit tenderness towards his horse - which is something he has not personally experienced from humans - therefore, it is not a surprise to me that he would react in the manner that he did with respect to the fact that Graciela's father would harness fine horses to pull a carriage without making the connection to the fact that he and his brothers are forced to pull a plow by their father. As stated elsewhere, this is all he knows. He accepts and surrenders to it. 

 

The four brothers do not seem to have much of a relationship at all. They all see themselves as pawns in their father's "game." The three older brothers are thrilled at the prospect of escaping their father's clutches, even though they will leave their youngest brother at his mercy when they do so. They are out for their own survival.

 

Karel feels the loss of his mother deeply. His imagined relationship with her, as I stated in another post, is heartbreaking.

 

The time shifts work well and I find this an effective tool in this story.

 

 

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carol08
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

I'm only a 100 or so pages in, and I'm really enjoying how Machart is moving the story through time. In the first 1924 section, I was given just enough hints of what happened in 1910 to not be confused and to be both curious and understanding of Karel's actions and emotions. But I knew there had to be more of the story to be revealed, so I kept turning pages and turning pages until I finally had to turn off the light.

 

Although I'm not sure I like any of the characters yet, their story is compelling.

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

timetravel wrote:

 

Although I am well into reading the book, I'm finding it hard to get the beginning out of my mind to move on with the story.  I keep going back to the boys with the crooked necks because their father treasured his horses more than his children.  (and to think our children feel deprived if they don't have their own cell phone by the time they are 11)

 

That image of the boys with crooked necks and spines possibly is hard to forget. I was astonished by that piece as the Mexican and his daughters drive up to find the boys plowing a field instead of horses. There are a lot of things that took me by surprise in this book so far. I totally expect that the next section will not be different.

 

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

Dear Rachel..I just wanted to Welcome you back..Its nice to see your Name up again..I posted a bit this AM..Still have so much to say..Fortunately,I have all week,,Very intense Book..and a Favorite Part of History for me.,its real it happened... so many issues later on in life that form these complex men and women...maybe thats why I love Cormac McCarthy. Best Susan..

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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maxcat
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (pappy)

Rachel 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 think this was an issue of sheer cruelty. Times were not rough back in those days and as pointed out, Vaclav was about the richest man in the county. So, why use your children for horses. It seems to me there is greed playing in this book also. Greed to use your horse for racing, which leads to money if the horse wins. Greed ifthe horses are lent out for stud work. I think Vaclav loved money more than anything and sacrificed his boys for it. 

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

Toniwi wrote:

 

thewanderinjew Perhaps the boys didn't know they were being abused. When people have been treated a certain way for most or all of their lives, their treatment seems normal. Even when they see that others don't live that way, their life just is.

 

You may be on to something there. Is it possible the boys were always treated that way? We don't know about how the three older boys were treated prior to Karel's birth. If Vaclav was enamoured with his wife, were  the older boys tried nicer or kinder?

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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wheeze
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars,"

This story has been really hard for me to pull into and love. I think it's due to all the torment going on between the brothers and their fathers. Vaclav is a horrible human being, pretty much like pond scum to me. I understand that he lost everything once his wife died, but it still tears me up instead to see him like that.

 

Karel, on the other hand, I am rooting for him. He seems to have a love for animals, yet hard to show with the torment his brothers give him.

 

Seems to me the whole family needs boot camp!

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

If the author did that, he'd lose the literary symbolism, I suppose.  :smileywink:

 

--Darcy

 


BookWoman718 wrote:

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

Yeah, I hadn't necessarily thought about it like that.  But (trying not to spoil the story here), I think you will find that they are aware that their upbringing was abusive as the story goes along.  What's really interesting is how the author handles this dynamic between the four brothers.

 

--Darcy

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 

That is a scary thought, isn't it? Some people don't even expect to be treated with respect because they have never known it and it has been proven...even when they have known it, often they wind up identifying with their enemy. Isn't that the Stockholm syndrome? Those boys might have been considered hostages because of how they were treated!
I thought that the three older brothers might have had some benefit from their mother's love, but maybe you are right, maybe they were too young to have absorbed anything but the ruthlessness of Vaclav.
ToniWI wrote:
thewanderinjew Perhaps the boys didn't know they were being abused. When people have been treated a certain way for most or all of their lives, their treatment seems normal. Even when they see that others don't live that way, their life just is.

 


 

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

"Nature or Nurture" or is there a third choice; a genetic propensity for violence!

So sad.

Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see.
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AshDar
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars," (p.132)

Kind of a simple revelation, but did anybody else notice that Klara and Karel are one letter apart, with different arrangements? Could it be that Vaclav wanted to honor his wife's memory by naming their last child after her?

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

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 

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?

 

Is there a relationship between the four brothers?

 

I thought Vaclav was a sadistic, horrible man who used his personal pain to hurt others, rather than attempting to rise above it. When his wife died, love died within him, as well. He had the power to use her memory as a guide with which to raise his children, but instead, he discarded all feelings and emotion and built up a defense mechanism so strong that he could not be hurt but could hurt others, easily and without shame or guilt. He was guided only by his need to win and overpower others who were weaker to prove his strength and show his power. Perhaps he didn't want to be hurt again, or perhaps he wanted to be perceived as impervious to further pain.


The brothers could have banded together and protected each other yet they were loyal and obedient, to their father, learning cruelty from his example, becoming the workhorses of the farm, permanently disfigured by their abuse. Why didn't they defy their father when they saw the torment each was experiencing? If someone is treated like an animal, do they become one in order to survive? Does each abuse the one beneath them because he is weaker? There have been cases in history which show that people will do most anything to survive even if it causes others to suffer needlessly, in order to support their own well being. History has also shown that people on the higher rungs of the ladder, often throw the lower climbers off!


Yet, I wondered, couldn't the brothers have easily outnumbered and overpowered their father, forcing him to stop his cruelty or continue to try and maintain the farm without their help? What makes people so docile in the face of such torment and callousness that they do nothing but inflict their pain on others, in return?

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I love your post.

Yes, Vaclav was cruel and sadistic, but I think he was such a broken shell of a man that he was hurting others before they could hurt him first.  With Klara, he had layed himself open and bared his heart and soul.  Everyone saw it, only to lose her and be hurt by her death.  To protect himself and perhaps even his children he put up walls to avoid being hurt again.  Making his children hard prevented them from making the same mistake.  In addition, he blamed his wife's death on Karel and never bonded with him.

 

I often wonder the same thing about why people don't rise up and outnumber their tormentor, but I suppose in this instance is the fact that these boys don't know anything different, so they probably don't see or know that the treatment is really wrong.  It's just the way it is.  "Honor your father" and so they do.   In their heart, they can feel that it is wrong.  Their common sense tells them that it feels wrong, but I don't think anything in their lifetime has actually told them it is truly wrong. They are surrounded by a cruel and unforgiving world and they feel powerless to change it.

Suzi

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

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

 


Rachel-K wrote:

A lovely way to describe it (as usual)! Who do you find most cruel? Do you find any character so far escaping this inner "hardness" that seems to reflect their environment?

 

 Thank you so much for your remarks!  If I had to pick someone who is probably the most cruel, I would choose Villasenor. He is devious and manipulative, as well as cruel. He does not have sons, so he uses henchmen to do his dirtywork so his hands, seemingly, remain clean.

 

At the moment, there is no character I feel I know well enough to determine whether or not they have escaped the effects of their environment, unless we consider the women who often put their families needs above their own and made the necessary sacrifices for their well being and survival, unlike Vaclev. Even some of the women who seemed gentle in some way, somehow seemed bitter and/or stood by without doing anything when they witnessed shameful behavior.

 

I suspect as I read, I will find some with redeeming features, perhaps it will be the widow Vrana who helped with the birth of Sophie's child and who although she was unable to have the child she wanted most, helps bring children into the world for others.

 


Yes, I'm thinking the Widow Vrana, too.  Her character seems to be the one that stands out to me as the most unscathed so far.  I wonder how she will touch these lives in the future.  I can't help but feel that she has more to offer, yet.

 

Suzi

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


thewanderingjew wrote:

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

 

After some more thought I realized that the timeline actually confused me at one point and I had to go back and reread to place the characters in the proper time frame.

Finally I figured out that the Knedlich woman was Karel's wet nurse. The birth of her twins had nothing to do with the birth of  Sophie's and Karel's son and occurred years earlier.
Father Carew watches the horse race between Graciella and Karel instead of baptizing the Knedlich twins. Those twins turn out to be the boys Karel hires when his own son is born to Sophie, years later.

If anyone else had the same problem, I hope this clarifies it for you too and if I have made any errors in the interpretation, please clarify it for me! Thanks.



That is a well stated timeline!  Thanks so much!

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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: Early Chapters until "Meander Scars,"


wheeze wrote:

This story has been really hard for me to pull into and love. I think it's due to all the torment going on between the brothers and their fathers. Vaclav is a horrible human being, pretty much like pond scum to me. I understand that he lost everything once his wife died, but it still tears me up instead to see him like that.

 

Karel, on the other hand, I am rooting for him. He seems to have a love for animals, yet hard to show with the torment his brothers give him.

 

Seems to me the whole family needs boot camp!


Is that not what most books are about Family Dysfunction?  I feel like the author did a great job and telling the story of a farm family and the hardships of the time.  It would not be the same wonderful story if everyone got along! 

You are the author of your own life story.