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Peppermill
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

How would you describe the backdrop of the natural world in the these scenes? Do we come to know the horses or the land as if they were characters?

 

This land and working it is hard work.  Still, I didn't get a picture that either the land or the weather in Lavaca County is extra-ordinarily difficult, as land and climate go across the broad U.S. plains:

 

"Here in these parts, in the black-soil heart of Lavaca County, where the Czech farmers have run off all but the last of the red-haired and ruddy settlers who came before them; where, if a man has two bits' worth of good seed and a strong back and a certain degree stubborness--that and a good wife who lives long enough and with enough of God's favor to grant him sons--he might harvest two hundred acres of cotton without calling on even his neighbors for help; here, where men make their own worth..." p. 10.


Lavaca County, On-Line Handbook of Texas

 

I haven't figured out who were "the red-haired and ruddy settlers" who came before the Czech farmers.

"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: The Land and People

In contrast to the passage in my previous post, there are passages like this:

 

"...He'd known land in his life that, before a few seasons of regular rainfall, had been hard enough to crack a plow point, and he knew that if, by stubborness or circumstance, that earth became yours to farm, you'd do well to live with the constant understanding that, in time, absent the work of swollen clouds and providence, your boots would fall loudly, giving rise to dust, when you walked your fields."  p. 5.

"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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Vermontcozy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People


DSaff wrote:

The broken vial reminded me of a saying I heard when I was young. "It's never right to do wrong to do right." This man truly believed he was wrong in watching the race which made him feel guilty and hide, and led to his mishap with the fence. Now, after doing something "wrong" how could he go baptize the babies? This took that opportunity away, blending with his blood. Redemption?


ssizemore wrote:

I too have been pondering the scene with Father Carew--especially the broken vial of holy water.  I think there was a clue in there--I will re-read it!


 


Thank you Donna for the explanation.Now it all makes sense to me..I couldn't quite understand the relevance..Susan..

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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Vermontcozy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

Their world revolves around each other, they can do and be whatever they want, these are all Social situation's.Its no different then today.After all their hard work,men and women alike,they can relax.It takes on a life of its own..The Socials,The Races.,.I live in small community.which still has remnants of the past..all around us.. It is part of the character of the town..absolutely.......Both father and son are defined by their land..Coming to this country without much,Valcav with all his faults,did all of this for his family,and to be able to hold his head up high..Of course he falls short of loving his son's the way he loves his land.I think it was very common then..Each generation that follows,say Karel,respect and love what his father has acquired,but I feel him questioning is there more to life.......I was not clear about the Priest at all,but after reading DStaff's post..It became clearer..I had my own take on the situation,will wait till Bruce is Here.to ask him about that episode

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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MSaff
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

Good Morning All,

 

  This question requires some thought as to the relationship between the Land and the People.  As I see it to this point, both the Land and the People have a brutal nature about them.  One thing I also see, (my opinion), is that the land itself can be described as beautiful, as well as foreboding.  You can expect that from a land so vast and expansive.

  What I haven't found acceptable, is the brutality of the people.  I guess that the the countryside/land, could play a part in the way the people live, but I would hope that the people would also see how fragile the land and lives are, and compensate for that.

 

 

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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coffee_luvr
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

 


BookWoman718 wrote:

deannafrances wrote:

I  started the book and after reading some of the comments in other sections, I was sure I was given the wrong book--so I was glad to see the previous posting that someone else finds the main character to be very unsympathic and noticed the cruelty in the book.  I also wonder about the fact in such harsh circumstances if it really would be possible to keep the horses only for racing and not use them on the farm for anything else.  It seems an overly luxurious indulgence.  I just can't imagine it--having lived in rural areas for the last 40 years of my life.


Apparently Vaclav has enriched himself by racing - winning large land holdings - far more than he would have had he used the horses for low margin farm work.  He pampers them only so long as he can profit by them;  once they have served that purpose, he has no compunction about gelding them and selling them off, or working them hard. 


 

BookWoman-

That is the way I saw this as well.

Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. ~Barbara Tuchman
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

I think this passage beautifully sents up Vaclav's personality and eventual treatment of his sons. He becomes one with the land and becomes as unrelenting and hard as it does, after the rains which soften it temporarily.
Klara had softened the man, temporarily, but now, without her, like the land in a drought, he returned to his hard and stubborn nature, unwilling to nurture his sons, unwilling to feel again, lest he fall victim again to the capriciousness of nature.

He was the land, without emotion, and they the plowhorses, almost without human qualities, to work it. How sad an outcome it was.


Peppermill wrote:

In contrast to the passage in my previous post, there are passages like this:

 

"...He'd known land in his life that, before a few seasons of regular rainfall, had been hard enough to crack a plow point, and he knew that if, by stubborness or circumstance, that earth became yours to farm, you'd do well to live with the constant understanding that, in time, absent the work of swollen clouds and providence, your boots would fall loudly, giving rise to dust, when you walked your fields."  p. 5.



Peppermill wrote:

In contrast to the passage in my previous post, there are passages like this:

 

"...He'd known land in his life that, before a few seasons of regular rainfall, had been hard enough to crack a plow point, and he knew that if, by stubborness or circumstance, that earth became yours to farm, you'd do well to live with the constant understanding that, in time, absent the work of swollen clouds and providence, your boots would fall loudly, giving rise to dust, when you walked your fields."  p. 5.


 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

[ Edited ]

On this unusual website:
http://www.frontiernet.net/~jamesstarlight/HolyWater.html

It says:

Throughout the ages, holy water has played a significant part of many religions. Its primary functions have been to A) ward off or wash away evil, sins, or iniquities, and B) to join in closer communion with god, using the water to partially imbue one with their lord's holy being. Holy water may easily serve both functions.

Perhaps the broken vial spilled the water on Father Carew's chest and cleansed his heart of its impure thoughts. I wonder if he will be more devoted, in the future? Is that redemption?

On the other hand, from the same website:

Contrary to popular belief, once holy water is blessed it will not simply remain so forever, but may easily lose its holy nature and power. In fact, it will do so immediately if defiled in any manner such as by being brought in contact with an unholy surface or put into any container that hasn't been properly blessed. Even sparkling clean leaded glassware is inappropriate, for all appropriate containers must be properly blessed before they may safely transport holy water.

When the vial broke, was the opposite true? Did the water become impure as an indication of Father Carew's inappropriate thoughts or behavior?

 


ssizemore wrote:

That is where I was going with the broken vial---blood for redemption/water for baptism.  Thanks for that!

Sandy


DSaff wrote:

The broken vial reminded me of a saying I heard when I was young. "It's never right to do wrong to do right." This man truly believed he was wrong in watching the race which made him feel guilty and hide, and led to his mishap with the fence. Now, after doing something "wrong" how could he go baptize the babies? This took that opportunity away, blending with his blood. Redemption?


ssizemore wrote:

I too have been pondering the scene with Father Carew--especially the broken vial of holy water.  I think there was a clue in there--I will re-read it!


 


 


 

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sandrabrazier
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

What do you make of the brief chapter from the perspective of the horned owl and it's infant opossum prey, that ends with Father Carew, who has injured himself while sneaking away from the horse race in the rain?

 

The descriptions that are written from the perspective of the owl and then from the perspective of the opossum is amazing. It is even more amazing when you see the parallels that it portrays when compared to Father Carew's indiscretion. Father Carew's "owl", his wish for a little excitement, traps him in its "claws" and sucks a little bit of his life from him, as he frustratingly and embarrassingly realizes that he has given in. He struggles for life in the "muck of the road". This is further reinforced as the wound in his chest (claws digging in) as the holy water bottle around his neck bursts and wounds him. His own religion has done him in!

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sandrabrazier
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

How would you describe the backdrop of the natural world in the these scenes? Do we come to know the horses or the land as if they were characters?

 

The backdrop of the natural world is beautifully depicted and fills the reader with awe and respect. In this way, the landscape becomes a soothing, maternal character, on that always brings comfort during pain and solace during strife. One can always return to working the land to be alright again.

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maxcat
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

Rachel_k wrote:

 

We find the crowd described almost as a character--at the races, and at the dance in Praha. What kind of personality does the group of townspeople have when they are gathered together in the scenes so far?

 

I think the crowd of men are typical of men at races today. They bet on someone end turn ugly when they lose. After all, these men provide for their families, are probably abusive and this is a form of entertainment that gets them away from the daily grind.

 

Both Vaclav and Karel have thoughts comparing their own natures to the qualities of the land they work. Do you see similar qualities between them?

 

I do in a sense that they both labor over their farms and are just as abusive to their wives.

 

How would you describe the backdrop of the natural world in the these scenes? Do we come to know the horses or the land as if they were characters?

 

I think the landscape detail is just wonderful the way the author writes about it. It's almost as if you are there standing in the background and everything is going on around you. The horses play a big part in this story as racers, not work horses. They are tended to better than the boys who are out in the field plowing.

 

What do you make of the brief chapter from the perspective of the horned owl and it's infant opossum prey, that ends with Father Carew, who has injured himself while sneaking away from the horse race in the rain?

 

The great horned owl is a huge bird that flies silently and picks up it's prey before it can even run. The opossom is the weak link here as it becomes helpless in the owls talons. Father Carew evidently has a weakness for horse racing when he should be doing his duties of blessing the Knedlich twins. He, like the possom, gets entangled in the barbed wire and when he frees himself, breaks the bottle of holy water.

 

 

 

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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Dotcat
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

It is hard to fathom the realities of the harshness of life in those days. None of the characters so far are very sympathetic but that is caused in part by just trying to survive in a crude and untamed landscape.

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Immortal-Spirit
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

 


 I totally agree with this.  The way he treated his sons is inexcusable to say the least.  I wanted him to get beat in the fight.  Really bad.  

I too lost hope when Karee cheated on his wife. On the night she was giving birth no less.  I was hoping he was different than his father.  I'm starting to think he's no different.  We'll see...
The part about going back and forth between the priest and the mother of the twins was interesting, but I didn't know where it was going on the mother's part. 

The horses are a major part of this story.  The differences between them being coddled, used, and abused, is apparent.  I loved the way the Mexican girl only had to put the crop in front of the horses nose for it to go faster.  While Karel had to flog it constantly.  It shows who treasures their horses as the beautiful creatures that they are.

DSaff wrote:

I have only read the first section, but this book has brought out some real emotions in me. I have wanted to beat Vaclav for the way he treats his sons and animals. The riding crop, hmmmm.....  Well, on with the question. :smileyhappy:

 

The crowd, made up almost entirely of men, works like a child playing both ends against the middle. They are for whoever wins and their allegiance shifts accordingly. It doesn't bode well for any true, lasting friendships, I fear. I don't like these men and in this section, have found nothing redeeming in them. While they work hard to provide for their household, they are abusive to their wives and children. It is very sad. I had hope for Karel when he was playing and laughing with his daughters, but when he had sex with Elizka while his wife was giving birth, I lost any hope. Here's hoping I am wrong and there are some worthwhile men here.

 

The land and animals are characters to me. They are very much alive and react to their environment. The land is hard and difficult to break for farming, but totally gives way when the rains come. It is like it is taunting the men, trying to break them. The land seems to want to win against the foreign hand of man, but the elements, nature, can caress it and wear it away. The horses are especially in tune with their surroundings. They react to threats (knife), the whip, and to words. I found it unforgivable that Karel's father caused deformity in his sons while coddling his horses in nice, warm stables. Then, to see the fear he caused in the horses and to know his sons laughed and didn't mind it. well.....

 

As far as Father Carew, he knew he shouldn't go to the race. It was wrong for him, but he went anyway. It made me think of this line from the Bible, "...be sure, your sins will find you out." Numbers 32:23b

 


 

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tylerm
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

I totaly agree.  I want to hurry through to see what is going to happen next but I have to slow down to read all the beautiful descriptive passages.  At times, it is distracting.  However, the prose is so elegant and adds such a richness to the story that the wait is well worth it.

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tylerm
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

Both Vaclav and Karel have thoughts comparing their own natures to the qualities of the land they work. Do you see similar qualities between them?

 

Both are hard working but Karel does not seem to wrok just for the sake of working or as a way of forgetting.  His father seems to do this on many occasions such as when he took the hourses out to plow in the rain.  Karel wants to do the job well but doesn't, I believe use work as a substitute for love.

 

How would you describe the backdrop of the natural world in the these scenes? Do we come to know the horses or the land as if they were characters? 

 

I won't necessarily consider the land or the horses as characters.  They are very essential elements of the novel that are critical to the plot.

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1archi1
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

 

What do you make of the brief chapter from the perspective of the horned owl and it's infant opossum prey, that ends with Father Carew, who has injured himself while sneaking away from the horse race in the rain?

To me this was kind of a hard chapter to read because I wasn't really sure of the relevance.  There is some great symbolism...the claws of the owl vs the claws of the fence but I think I will have to go back and re-read then wait for further chapters to see the correlation.  I mean this horned owl basically sneaks up on this innocent opossum and catches it.  So my question is who is the innocent watching the races, not wanting to get caught?  Is it Father Carew or is the men watching the races?  Father Carew is hiding from the group so he won't get "caught" but the men are having the races at night.  Definitely a reread w/ things to ponder.


 

:smileyhappy:
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1archi1
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People


maxcat wrote:

What do you make of the brief chapter from the perspective of the horned owl and it's infant opossum prey, that ends with Father Carew, who has injured himself while sneaking away from the horse race in the rain?

 

The great horned owl is a huge bird that flies silently and picks up it's prey before it can even run. The opossom is the weak link here as it becomes helpless in the owls talons. Father Carew evidently has a weakness for horse racing when he should be doing his duties of blessing the Knedlich twins. He, like the possom, gets entangled in the barbed wire and when he frees himself, breaks the bottle of holy water.

 

 

 


Thank you for this.  I didn't really think of this chapter in terms of weakness but you are correct and you really helped me understand the chapter more and put it all together.

:smileyhappy:
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1archi1
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People


Both Vaclav and Karel have thoughts comparing their own natures to the qualities of the land they work. Do you see similar qualities between them?

Yes I see similar qualities between Vaclav and Karel.  They are both hard working and hard in general.  Almost unforgiving, like the land can be, they are unforgiving of the way they treat people and their actions.  It just seems to me that Vaclav would trade his children for more land if he could.  Land is massive and the more massive Vaclav's land gets, it almost seems like the more massive Vaclav thinks he is.

 

How would you describe the backdrop of the natural world in the these scenes? Do we come to know the horses or the land as if they were characters? 

I believe the horses and the land are characters in themselves because they are just as important as the characters themselves.  The descriptions of both are great and make you feel like you are there right along w/ the scenes.  I love a book when you can lose yourself and make believe that you are in the book looking at the characters and the landscape and following along as you are reading

 

:smileyhappy:
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Vermontcozy
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People


1archi1 wrote:

maxcat wrote:

What do you make of the brief chapter from the perspective of the horned owl and it's infant opossum prey, that ends with Father Carew, who has injured himself while sneaking away from the horse race in the rain?

 

The great horned owl is a huge bird that flies silently and picks up it's prey before it can even run. The opossom is the weak link here as it becomes helpless in the owls talons. Father Carew evidently has a weakness for horse racing when he should be doing his duties of blessing the Knedlich twins. He, like the possom, gets entangled in the barbed wire and when he frees himself, breaks the bottle of holy water.

 

 

 


Thank you for this.  I didn't really think of this chapter in terms of weakness but you are correct and you really helped me understand the chapter more and put it all together.


I agree Anita,maxcat cleared up that section for me as well..I was going in another direction,but now it does make sense.in my understanding..What a wonderful Book..Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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ToniWI
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Re: Wake of Forgiveness: The Land and People

I see the land, the people and the animals as an extension of each other.  Vaclav described the land as almost unwelcoming.  It's dry, hot and almost unwilling to be used.  The Vaclav and Karel are also unwelcoming.  That don't really let anyone into the lives.  They exist with the people around them, but don't really interact with any depth.  The animals are also unwelcoming, they don't want to be used harshly (which can be expected).  This is evident with the young race horse constantly being reminded of what would happen if he doesn't perform;  also with the young heifer that seems to hate Karel (again understandable). With Vaclav and Karel, their land and their animals, non of them seem to want to be where they are or doing what they are doing.