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coffee_luvr
Posts: 171
Registered: ‎10-29-2009
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

 


Fozzie wrote:

As I completed the first section of reading, I was absorbed in both the story and the prose style.  I didn’t want to break up my reading for fear of not “getting” the book.  Much of it is very subtle and requires a careful reading.  I felt immersed in the time and place.  Bruce’s use of language is outstanding. 

 

I eagerly read into the second section of reading.  Unfortunately, I hit a snag --- The Blind Janus.  I struggled to get through this section of reading.  I kept wondering who these twins were and why they were so hell bent on causing trouble.  I repeatedly went back to earlier sections of reading to find something I had missed, but without success.  I didn’t feel like I was in the scenes, like I did in earlier sections, nor did I feel the sense of tension that the earlier parts of the book had.  I was bored with the storyline in the section (I don’t like Westerns and hated the movie Unforgiven), but pushed through, hoping that once I finished The Blind Janus, the book would return to the book I was enjoying for the first 143 pages.

 

Luckily, the sections that ended the book were also wonderful.  I loved how everything tied together and was resolved.  However, I found myself wishing that the middle section of the book, where the twins cause trouble, could have been reduced to 15 pages.  Did we really need to know all the details about exactly what they did?  I don’t feel like I did.  Did anyone else notice anything like I am describing, or did I truly miss something?


 

I struggled with that section a bit as well.  I do not feel that I understood why the twins were doing what they were doing.  Although, by the end of that section I was intrigued and compelled to read on and finish the book so I would know what happened. 

As I was going thru and looking for sections that I underlined or tagged, I noticed that in that section my notes and underlined segments were much less than the first and last sections.  Although my favorite section that I posted was from page 157.

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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coffee_luvr
Posts: 171
Registered: ‎10-29-2009
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

 


Peppermill wrote:

Finished TWoF this afternoon.  Good read, challenging story.  The story really needs this final section.  Not certain the book "serializes" well, although I stayed with the reading schedule much more closely than I normally do.  Somehow, the pace of reading -- with the back and forth of the time periods and the long sentences that called for parsing -- never pulled me into a must-sit-and-read-this-now mode, as some books do.

 

Pepper


I think that the back and forth of time periods is what compelled me to NOT keep to the reading schedule.  I felt reading the book entirely and not in sections made it a better read. 

 

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

I finished the book this morning in time for tomorrow's discussion. I thought the book was amazing, definitely a keeper. I was interested in the comments made about "forgiveness".

I found that most of the forgiveness was very personal,. I felt that the characters had to forgive themselves for their own behavior first or recognize their own complicity in the events unfolding, before they could move on, before they were able to forgive another. They had to look backward and forward to see the larger picture, for what it was, with its disastrous, tragic consequences, before they could see their own involvement in the chain of events.

I think that the traveling back and forth in time, enhanced the process.

I think the book sets up well for a sequel since I would like to know how the relationship of all the brothers evolves down the road. Villasenor still remains an enigma and it would be nice to see his character further developed.

 


BookWoman718 wrote:

Melissa_W wrote:

Haha, this is me - except I read it all the weekend before the group started so I've been waiting TWO weeks to talk about it because I can't remember when certain things happen in the book.

 

Oy.

 

 

Nearly everyone must forgive someone else in this novel:  Karel must forgive his father, brothers, and Graciela, Vaclav must forgive Karel and Klara, the three older brothers must forgive Karel, Villasenor must forgive his wife (obv, he doesn't), and Karel must forgive himself. (Not sure who the twins have to forgive....)


Melissa, I know just what you mean about posting.  I finished the book ahead of schedule, too, and have been trying to be careful to post only when I see that someone else has broached a subject.  The back-and-forth-in-time style didn't bother me, but it made it hard to remember exactly where you READ about an event, as opposed to where you set up a chronological order in your head.  Some of the things we learn about Karel as a teen aren't revealed until late in the book...  

 

I'm interested in the way you say that "everyone MUST forgive someone else..."   Do you mean to imply that the forgiveness is inevitable (as in "you MUST blink" eventually, whether you want to or not)   Or do you mean that everyone has suffered some injury and thus has someone that they should forgive if the relationship is to continue?   I see forgiveness as a choice, although obviously, even for one's own peace of mind, it is usually better to forgive than to hold the injury close.   That's why someone must 'beg forgiveness' for instance.   If you've injured someone, you don't automatically get it.  Getting forgiveness often requires asking forgiveness (admitting you were wrong), making amends, and offering restitution.   Does Vaclav need to 'forgive' Karel for being born because his mother died in childbirth?  No, to the contrary, placing blame on the child is one more injurious thing Vaclav does to Karel, and his stubborn blindness to the multiple ways he is hurting his sons make him near unforgiveable himself.  (and I don't much care if he had a rough childhood himself;  that doesn't give him license to grow up and do monstrous things.) 

 

There is so much betrayal and brutality, (and all the other misdeeds I've mentioned in previous posts), that this whole family and community is in need of a Mandela-style Reconciliation Miracle, but for that to happen, the miscreants are supposed to own up to their sins.  We don't see a lot of that in this crowd.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I think the title means.


 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

[ Edited ]

Speaking of The Blind Janus section about the twins, I just found some information about Janus on Wikipedia. Perhaps the title is meant to highlight the differences between the twins and their inability to visualize the consequences of their actions. In addition, maybe the title is also indicative of the fact that the chapter is a real turning point, a connector between the events of the past and the events of the future. Also, The Blind Janus begins in December, 1924.

It may symbolize the many changes ahead since it is also the end of one year with a new year soon to begin. Maybe it will be a year of new beginnings.
If only they had not been blind, but had the gift of seeing backwards and forwards, things would have turned out differently, although one has to wonder if the brothers would ever have moved toward a moment of forgiveness if nothing catastrophic had occurred. The awful event was the catalyst for change.

 

"In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus) is the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins the new year. The reason for this is that one is looking back at the previous year and the other is looking forward to the new year ahead. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. These heads were believed to look into both the future and the past."

 


coffee_luvr wrote:

 


Fozzie wrote:

As I completed the first section of reading, I was absorbed in both the story and the prose style.  I didn’t want to break up my reading for fear of not “getting” the book.  Much of it is very subtle and requires a careful reading.  I felt immersed in the time and place.  Bruce’s use of language is outstanding. 

 

I eagerly read into the second section of reading.  Unfortunately, I hit a snag --- The Blind Janus.  I struggled to get through this section of reading.  I kept wondering who these twins were and why they were so hell bent on causing trouble.  I repeatedly went back to earlier sections of reading to find something I had missed, but without success.  I didn’t feel like I was in the scenes, like I did in earlier sections, nor did I feel the sense of tension that the earlier parts of the book had.  I was bored with the storyline in the section (I don’t like Westerns and hated the movie Unforgiven), but pushed through, hoping that once I finished The Blind Janus, the book would return to the book I was enjoying for the first 143 pages.

 

Luckily, the sections that ended the book were also wonderful.  I loved how everything tied together and was resolved.  However, I found myself wishing that the middle section of the book, where the twins cause trouble, could have been reduced to 15 pages.  Did we really need to know all the details about exactly what they did?  I don’t feel like I did.  Did anyone else notice anything like I am describing, or did I truly miss something?


 

I struggled with that section a bit as well.  I do not feel that I understood why the twins were doing what they were doing.  Although, by the end of that section I was intrigued and compelled to read on and finish the book so I would know what happened. 

As I was going thru and looking for sections that I underlined or tagged, I noticed that in that section my notes and underlined segments were much less than the first and last sections.  Although my favorite section that I posted was from page 157.


 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

[ Edited ]

By the way, I had never heard of a narthex or this word which appears on p. 233, catechumen, so I looked them up. In case someone else is also in the dark, here are the explanations:

 

"Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper. It was either an indoor area separated from the nave by a screen or rail, or an external structure such as a porch. The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation (particularly catechumens and penitents) to hear and partake in the service."


cat·e·chu·men

 (kt-kymn)

n.
1. One who is being taught the principles of Christianity.
2. One who is being instructed in a subject at an elementary level.

 

 

Frequent Contributor
bettymac
Posts: 65
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

I think the answers to LittlePig's questions about what will happen with Karel and his family is implicit in the ending. I think Karel's thoughts tell us that he will ask and receive forgiveness and that he will now take life and "run" with it.

Page 304

"...wondering just how in the hell a man is supposed to go about asking the dead to forgive him for ever finding comfort at another woman's breast. Or for going on living at all when she could not." - referring to his mother

"Or for doing his father's delirious bidding and leaving him to die in the mud alone. Or for leaving their children so long at odds with one another in the world." - his father

" And then he wonders if he's just done it, if it could be that simple.

The horse sidesteps, and , when Karel corrects her, she offers a coy little halfhearted buck. Her body shudders beneath his weight, sensing, before he gives her a heel. that they are about to run."

 

He feels guilty for living when his mother died. He feels guilty for leaving his father to die alone. He feels guilty for keeping the estrangement between his brothers and him. It was in Karel's power to bring the brothers together, but he didn't because of his desire for Graciela. Suddenly, he realizes that he is forgiven and forgives. He has the power to make it all right. He has already shown signs that he loves his son and his daughters and that he loves Sophie. He just didn't know it before because he was blinded by his anguish over all the hardships of his life. The fire at Stan's opened his eyes to all that he has - or can have- rather than what he has lost. 

I love the simplicity of this ending. I like that Bruce lets us "decide" that Karel's life will be good and happy now without feeling the need to write a chapter to tell us. He has already told us...if we only listen.

Betty

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread. ~François Mauriac
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cathy58
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

The time hopping had me totally confused.  But once I figured out what he was doing, it all came together. 

 

I thought it was a wonderful story.  I'm not sorry that I read it all at once.

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cathy58
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

I wasn't sure what the twins had to do with anything either.  Except that they did bring Karel and his brothers back together.

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Peppermill
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Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

So a "Blind Janus" is one that can see neither backwards nor forward?  E.g., can't learn from the past and can't imagine a realistic, bright future?

 

Seems to me that certainly describes the twins -- at least in certain ways of their being, even if Joe is a bit of a dreamer.

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

Speaking of The Blind Janus section about the twins, I just found some information about Janus on Wikipedia. Perhaps the title is meant to highlight the differences between the twins and their inability to visualize the consequences of their actions. In addition, maybe the title is also indicative of the fact that the chapter is a real turning point, a connector between the events of the past and the events of the future. Also, The Blind Janus begins in December, 1924.

It may symbolize the many changes ahead since it is also the end of one year with a new year soon to begin. Maybe it will be a year of new beginnings.
If only they had not been blind, but had the gift of seeing backwards and forwards, things would have turned out differently, although one has to wonder if the brothers would ever have moved toward a moment of forgiveness if nothing catastrophic had occurred. The awful event was the catalyst for change.

 

"In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus) is the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins the new year. The reason for this is that one is looking back at the previous year and the other is looking forward to the new year ahead. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. These heads were believed to look into both the future and the past."

 


 

"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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babzilla41
Posts: 252
Registered: ‎05-04-2009
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

i really like the fact that Karel realized, after finally visiting his brothers, that their lives weren't as wonderful as he thought they were.  Villasenor did not respect his brothers.  He treated them poorly and with scorn and contempt.  They were never able to feel like men - like Karel did after their father died.  Karel was able to make his farm a succes and he enjoyed looking around at what he had accomplished because of all of his hard work.  His brothers lived under the thumb of Villasenor; they were forever beholden to Villasenor.

 

Karel definitely had his demons; he definitely had his faults, but he was his own man.

 

 

b

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

 


coffee_luvr wrote {bold}:

 

I think that the back and forth of time periods is what compelled me to NOT keep to the reading schedule.  I felt reading the book entirely and not in sections made it a better read. 

 


 

Coffee_Luvr -- I suspect I would agree with you.  The sections and questions didn't break well for me.  On the other hand, I was doing a lot more re-reading as I went than I normally do, between the time swaps and the long sentences I paused to parse.

 

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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eadieburke
Posts: 1,925
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

[ Edited ]

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

By the way, I had never heard of a narthex or this word which appears on p. 233, catechumen, so I looked them up. In case someone else is also in the dark, here are the explanations:

 

"Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper. It was either an indoor area separated from the nave by a screen or rail, or an external structure such as a porch. The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation (particularly catechumens and penitents) to hear and partake in the service."


cat·e·chu·men

 (kt-kymn)

n.
1. One who is being taught the principles of Christianity.
2. One who is being instructed in a subject at an elementary level.

 

 


 

thewanderingjew:

 

Did you read PILLARS OF THE EARTH? I believe narthex was explained during the building of the cathedral too. In my church it was the area just past the front doors where the bride waits with her father before walking down the aisle. Some churches can have a narthex in other areas too based upon how big the church is.

 

In Catholic grade school the religion book is called your catechism. If you were Catholic and went to public school then you went to CCD classes after school on weekdays to learn about the Catholic faith.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confraternity_of_Christian_Doctrine

 

Hope this helps!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt
CAG
Inspired Correspondent
CAG
Posts: 218
Registered: ‎01-15-2007
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

To thewanderingjew  Thank you for the additional information about Janus. It really added to my thoughts about the twins and to the section "The Blind Janus".

CAG
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

it does help, thank you.


eadieburke wrote:

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

By the way, I had never heard of a narthex or this word which appears on p. 233, catechumen, so I looked them up. In case someone else is also in the dark, here are the explanations:

 

"Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper. It was either an indoor area separated from the nave by a screen or rail, or an external structure such as a porch. The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation (particularly catechumens and penitents) to hear and partake in the service."


cat·e·chu·men

 (kt-kymn)

n.
1. One who is being taught the principles of Christianity.
2. One who is being instructed in a subject at an elementary level.

 

 


 

thewanderingjew:

 

Did you read PILLARS OF THE EARTH? I believe narthex was explained during the building of the cathedral too. In my church it was the area just past the front doors where the bride waits with her father before walking down the aisle. Some churches can have a narthex in other areas too based upon how big the church is.

 

In Catholic grade school the religion book is called your catechism. If you were Catholic and went to public school then you went to CCD classes after school on weekdays to learn about the Catholic faith.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confraternity_of_Christian_Doctrine

 

Hope this helps!


 

Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

you are very welcome!:smileyhappy:


CAG wrote:

To thewanderingjew  Thank you for the additional information about Janus. It really added to my thoughts about the twins and to the section "The Blind Janus".


 

Inspired Correspondent
NikiGunn
Posts: 158
Registered: ‎01-28-2010
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

I think Karel also realizes that while he had to spend more time with their father. His brothers still have Villasenor. He's in charge of his own place and doesn't have to answer to anyone else. That probably makes spending time with his brothers more palatable.

Contributor
ToniWI
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎03-29-2010

Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

On the subject of forgiveness, I think it is a major theme throughout the book. I agree with the idea that main characters need to give and receive forgiveness. Karel needs to forgive his mother for dying and his father for grieving cruelly. He needs to forgive his brothers for getting away from their father. Graciella for marrying his brother. His brothers for the percived freedom they got from marriage. And himself for surviving. The older Skala brothers need to forgive Karel for being with Graceilla. And Karel for the freedom he got when their father died. The twins need to forgive their mother for staying and enduring their father. Vaklav needs to forgive Klara for dying and his sons for living. Of course forgiveness is a choice, but a hard one.
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mgmama33
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎08-05-2009
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

So, I am late posting due to some computer issues.  I read this book in two nights!  What a beautiful book! Again, a great choice.  I loved his writing style and characters.  I am a sucker for historical fiction and this book doesn't disappoint!

Wordsmith
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

 
Wordsmith
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: I read it all and I'm not sorry! (SPOILER THREAD)

Hi Melissa,

 

I agree with your statement wholeheartedly: 

 

"After he learns of the twins' misdeeds and the fire at his brother's, he realises that family is more than just the milk you drank as a child (it took me a while to get that reference).  The simple gesture of going to his brother's both extends for forgiveness and asks for forgiveness."   

 

You summed it up perfectly.  Karel had nothing in common with the twins other than their mother's milk whereas he had the emotional ties with his brothers, suffering together under the same set of circumstances.

 


Melissa_W wrote:

yeah, that was more like what I was getting at - maybe I shouldn't have used must, rather "needs" forgive instead.  Pretty nasty things were done to people because forgiveness was needed and not extended or asked for.  Some of the characters, like Vaclav, need to ask for forgiveness and they won't do it (maybe, they feel it's admitting weakness?)

 

I think that happens to Karel.  After he learns of the twins' misdeeds and the fire at his brother's, he realises that family is more than just the milk you drank as a child (it took me a while to get that reference).  The simple gesture of going to his brother's both extends for forgiveness and asks for forgiveness.

 


BookWoman718 wrote:

 

I'm interested in the way you say that "everyone MUST forgive someone else..."   Do you mean to imply that the forgiveness is inevitable (as in "you MUST blink" eventually, whether you want to or not)   Or do you mean that everyone has suffered some injury and thus has someone that they should forgive if the relationship is to continue?   I see forgiveness as a choice, although obviously, even for one's own peace of mind, it is usually better to forgive than to hold the injury close.   That's why someone must 'beg forgiveness' for instance.   If you've injured someone, you don't automatically get it.  Getting forgiveness often requires asking forgiveness (admitting you were wrong), making amends, and offering restitution.   Does Vaclav need to 'forgive' Karel for being born because his mother died in childbirth?  No, to the contrary, placing blame on the child is one more injurious thing Vaclav does to Karel, and his stubborn blindness to the multiple ways he is hurting his sons make him near unforgiveable himself.  (and I don't much care if he had a rough childhood himself;  that doesn't give him license to grow up and do monstrous things.) 

 

There is so much betrayal and brutality, (and all the other misdeeds I've mentioned in previous posts), that this whole family and community is in need of a Mandela-style Reconciliation Miracle, but for that to happen, the miscreants are supposed to own up to their sins.  We don't see a lot of that in this crowd.  I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I think the title means.