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lg4154
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎02-06-2009

Re: Adults and Children

I liked Anna's relationship to the coyotes, it was more like a needed one because she wasn't getting what she needed at home. I loved Maria & Teodores relationship and liked their characters the best. Stefan was a turd and I didn't care for him one bit.
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Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
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Re: Adults and Children

Please see the last message of the following thread.  

 

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/bn/board/message?board.id=UnderThisUnbrokenSky&thread.id=3&jump=...

 


misslynn wrote:
I agree. Who is Myesha? I haven't read the whole book yet, but I thought were were just discussing the beginning. I thought I was only only one confused about that.

 

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Kourt
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

I agree with lg4154. Stepha is a "turd". Thoughout the book he gives me the creeps. I absolutely fall in love with Maria and Teodor's love for one another and their children.
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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Adults and Children

Elisant,

 

I agree with you about Anna. And as for her marrying Stefan, we have to take into consideration the time she was growing up in. She too was living under Stalin's "hunger offensive" and some women, under these conditions, tend to manipulate themselves into what they see as better positions. Marrying Stefan must have seemed to be a good idea at the time.

 

I remember my mother, after WWII, working in a French Hospital in Germany, where wounded soldiers were treated. My mother had the advantage of speaking fluent French; she was young and pretty; she needed to take care of her family (my grandmother, sick uncle, aunt, niece, me - my grandfather had been put in a camp, my father was absent) and she flirted with the officers. While we were pushed into a single room of our house, and the children were not allowed outside, my mother took chances, sometimes breaking the curfew, (an offense you could get shot for) bringing home whatever food she could hide in her blouse. She also rode the bug-infested trains during her days off to beg food from farmers in exchange for our silverware, good linen, and other remnants of a "reasonable life."

 

I'm mentioning these war-time memories, because in all that is happening in Maria's life and the lives of her family members, the survival instinct, the need to protect, the fear of the unknown, loneliness, guilt, frustration with self and others, are heightened by previous experiences. This is on top of normal differences in behaviour. And whatever betterment they all had expected from emigrating to Canada certainly didn't come to pass. Shandi Mitchell, in my opinion, did an excellent job weaving the past into this tale, without preaching, without even talking about old wounds. "Show, don't tell" at its very best!

 

I guess what I am trying to say is that some people are psychologically weaker than others. It doesn't mean they love less. Well, on the surface they might look like they don't love at all; maybe they feel they themselves are not worth loving; maybe they have lost hope. But who says love is only for the strong, the bright, the successful? Who says love doesn't shine a tiny light into the deep darkness of despair? 

 

Healthy relationships are a luxury of modern living, something we are aware of because we can afford to be. In hard times, for immigrants - that includes modern day immigrants - there is neither time nor money nor desire to dissect their own lives. There is only the need to succeed, to provide a better life for the children, to survive.    

 

Final point. I haven't researched this yet for the Ukraine; it is from remembering things I have read about customs and superstitions in the "old country." Children with deformities were sometimes thought of as harboring the devil. Sometimes they had spells on them. They were shunned.

 

So you take an unhappy, depressed woman, brought up in a desperate country, give her a husband who rapes her, gives her a child that contributes to her notion of not being whole, not being worthwhile, and you get Anna. 

 

Anna, I think, is the most complex character in the novel. I am watching her closely.   


Elisant wrote:

I agree that shooting the coyote was what most people in that time would have done.  I didn't find that fact strange at all. 

 

However, I don't think that Anna was suffering from any sort of mental illness before she married Stefan.  I believe that she is extremely depressed and that depression was caused by Stefan's abuse and neglect.  From the description of her before she married Stefan she seems, to me, to have been a carefree and happy young woman.  She began to have problems on their wedding night when he raped her for the first time.  The fact that she slept with a knife under her pillow to keep him away from her tells me that the rapes were a common occurance in their marriage.  

 

I beleive that Anna's mental health problems stem from Stefan directly. As for her neglect of her children, I get the feeling that they were born of rape as well.  Which, for me, explains why she ignores them and is so adamant in ending of her current pregnancy.  It isn't the best reason to neglect her children but, for me, it does explain why it is so hard for her to be good to them.  The part on page 113, where Lesya wakes up with a cramp in her foot and realizes that her mother is sleeping in their bed shows me that she does love her children, she just doesn't seem to know how to show it or what to do about it.

 

 

 

BarneyNoble wrote:

 

I am curious, and after reading many of the posts I think it may just be me but.....why does it seem so odd that Stefan would have shot the coyote?  They were on the frontier, a new land with wild, dangerous animals.  I think if I saw someone kneeling next to a coyote and their hand stretched out and its teeth showing, I would have done the same thing.  Really, how was he to know that she could communicate with them? This is the first sign that Anna is delusional and that she is from the very beginning.  I am not sure that her mental illness or her neglect /abuse of the children could be blamed on Stefan instead I think that she may have played a bigger part in Stefan’s absence.   This is not to excuse him from his neglect or abuse or any of the other nasty character traits he has, but I just can’t blame him for hers.  


 

Contributor
Zephyr_Marie
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Adults and Children

I found the human/animal relationships to be one of the more intriguing parts of the book, especially Lesya and the chicken she names Happiness. Happiness is like Lesya because of the same deformity, and they both must struggle to surive in the wilderness that is their home.

 

My favorite character in the book (or one of) would be Maria. She was a pillar of strength, raising her family while her husband was in jail and then helping to take care of her sister's family as well. It would take an enormous amount of courage and strength to stand in her shoes.

Contributor
BarneyNoble
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎06-16-2008

Re: Adults and Children

Thanks Debbie, are you referring to my nickname?  For a minute I thought you meant my love-handles?!?  It's funny because my ex-husband's and both my boys’ (and most men on that side of the family) are called Barn or Barney, short for Barnhart.  I am now re-married but my kid's friends still call me that, so I thought eh- why not-It fits.

 

 And speaking of crazy husbands, don't get me wrong- I don't like Stefan.  He should have been in jail as far as I'm concerned.   Anna should be judged for her actions as a mother.  Being abused, neglected and yes even raped does not excuse her for abusing and neglected her children; whether she wanted them or not.   If that was the case then I have to ask, what hope is there for the children?  Did they not suffer the same abuse and neglect, loss of innocence, the same poverty and hunger, the same abandonment by Stefan?  Lesya seems to be able to overcome and be what her mother cannot and Petro, well he was just a vulnerable little boy trying to fit into his footsteps.  They were still holding on to hope. She may have been on the Canadian frontier and came from war-time Ukraine, but don't forget she had a wonderful extended family (that came from and are in the same place)  and they provided a great support system and that makes a world of difference. At best, I think she started out delusional and becomes depressed after childbirth.   For me (and it's just my opinion), Stefan and Anna are on the same level. (Debbie, I replied to you, but I am also responding to some of the other comments that were posted)
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PiperMurphy
Posts: 174
Registered: ‎09-19-2008
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Re: Adults and Children


BarneyNoble wrote:
I am curious, and after reading many of the posts I think it may just be me but.....why does it seem so odd that Stefan would have shot the coyote?  They were on the frontier, a new land with wild, dangerous animals.  I think if I saw someone kneeling next to a coyote and their hand stretched out and its teeth showing, I would have done the same thing.  Really, how was he to know that she could communicate with them? This is the first sign that Anna is delusional and that she is from the very beginning.  I am not sure that her mental illness or her neglect /abuse of the children could be blamed on Stefan instead I think that she may have played a bigger part in Stefan’s absence.   This is not to excuse him from his neglect or abuse or any of the other nasty character traits he has, but I just can’t blame him for hers.   

 

When I read this scene I also thought that it was natural for Stefan to shoot the coyote. He would assume that it was dangerous. But, I was also disappointed because I wanted to know if Anna truly had a connection with the coyote and could get it to respond to her. I wanted to know what would have happened. Stefan took that discovery away from us just like he took it away from Anna. I think that Anna sees this as one more thing that Stefan has taken away from her. He gave her gifts and jewelry before their marriage (even thought those things were stolen) letting her think that her life would be better, then he took them all back. I think that she feels that she has lost everything that she values because of her marriage, so that now she has to cope with a life that she never wanted. I don't think that she is delusional, although she may be becoming mentally ill. I think that she is just plain angry.
"When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."
~Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus~
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kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

Thank you for clarifying.
Kathy

thewanderingjew wrote:
Hi,
Paul posted on another thread, News, Schedules and Updates that his and Rachel's ARC are earlier copies than ours and several names are different. Misha is Lesya.

From Paul:

Hi All,

 

It seems Rachel and my ARCs predate yours. There's been some edits hence the name confusions. Here's the differences:

 

Theo is Teodor

Maria is Maria

Xanka is Dania

Ivan is Ivan

Sofia is Sofia

Katya is Katya
Anna is Anna

Stefan is Stefan

Piotr is Petro

Misha is Lesya

 

Stewies_Mom wrote:
Kathy,
I, too, cannot recall a character named Mysha.  I wonder if Mysha is a Ukranian version of Maria.  Perhaps it was meant to be Maria?
 

kpatton wrote (in part): 

 

I do have one question for the group- in the initial question for response Mysha was mentionedI don't recall this characterHow could I miss a whole character?

Kathy


 


 


 

Wordsmith
kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

I like your comments regarding Anna.  I don't see her as negatively as many of the posts do.  I have some real empathy for this character.  She has been brought to a new country, to a life she is unfamiliar with, has been raped, cheated on, and delivered some blows that have taken their toll on her.  When I think of what she has been through, I wonder how any of us would react.
Kathy

Elisant wrote:

I agree that shooting the coyote was what most people in that time would have done.  I didn't find that fact strange at all. 

 

However, I don't think that Anna was suffering from any sort of mental illness before she married Stefan.  I believe that she is extremely depressed and that depression was caused by Stefan's abuse and neglect.  From the description of her before she married Stefan she seems, to me, to have been a carefree and happy young woman.  She began to have problems on their wedding night when he raped her for the first time.  The fact that she slept with a knife under her pillow to keep him away from her tells me that the rapes were a common occurance in their marriage.  

 

I beleive that Anna's mental health problems stem from Stefan directly. As for her neglect of her children, I get the feeling that they were born of rape as well.  Which, for me, explains why she ignores them and is so adamant in ending of her current pregnancy.  It isn't the best reason to neglect her children but, for me, it does explain why it is so hard for her to be good to them.  The part on page 113, where Lesya wakes up with a cramp in her foot and realizes that her mother is sleeping in their bed shows me that she does love her children, she just doesn't seem to know how to show it or what to do about it.

 

 

 

BarneyNoble wrote:

 

I am curious, and after reading many of the posts I think it may just be me but.....why does it seem so odd that Stefan would have shot the coyote?  They were on the frontier, a new land with wild, dangerous animals.  I think if I saw someone kneeling next to a coyote and their hand stretched out and its teeth showing, I would have done the same thing.  Really, how was he to know that she could communicate with them? This is the first sign that Anna is delusional and that she is from the very beginning.  I am not sure that her mental illness or her neglect /abuse of the children could be blamed on Stefan instead I think that she may have played a bigger part in Stefan’s absence.   This is not to excuse him from his neglect or abuse or any of the other nasty character traits he has, but I just can’t blame him for hers.  


 

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kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: Adults and Children


rkubie wrote:

 


 


 

Did you notice that the children have no toys? How do they get along with each other? How do they play? Do they get much of a chance to be children?

 

 

This family barely had food to eat, where would they get toys?  Their play is outdoor play.  Because they are working so hard a surviving, any fun would come in the process of working (as another poster commented- counting bugs while in the garden).  In general, I think all of these children get along marvelously well.  I suppose being in such close quarters makes quarreling something a parent would end quickly.

Kathy



 

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kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

Sunlitcloud-
Very well written.  I have many of these same feelings about Anna.
Kathy

Sunltcloud wrote:

Elisant,

 

I agree with you about Anna. And as for her marrying Stefan, we have to take into consideration the time she was growing up in. She too was living under Stalin's "hunger offensive" and some women, under these conditions, tend to manipulate themselves into what they see as better positions. Marrying Stefan must have seemed to be a good idea at the time.

 

I remember my mother, after WWII, working in a French Hospital in Germany, where wounded soldiers were treated. My mother had the advantage of speaking fluent French; she was young and pretty; she needed to take care of her family (my grandmother, sick uncle, aunt, niece, me - my grandfather had been put in a camp, my father was absent) and she flirted with the officers. While we were pushed into a single room of our house, and the children were not allowed outside, my mother took chances, sometimes breaking the curfew, (an offense you could get shot for) bringing home whatever food she could hide in her blouse. She also rode the bug-infested trains during her days off to beg food from farmers in exchange for our silverware, good linen, and other remnants of a "reasonable life."

 

I'm mentioning these war-time memories, because in all that is happening in Maria's life and the lives of her family members, the survival instinct, the need to protect, the fear of the unknown, loneliness, guilt, frustration with self and others, are heightened by previous experiences. This is on top of normal differences in behaviour. And whatever betterment they all had expected from emigrating to Canada certainly didn't come to pass. Shandi Mitchell, in my opinion, did an excellent job weaving the past into this tale, without preaching, without even talking about old wounds. "Show, don't tell" at its very best!

 

I guess what I am trying to say is that some people are psychologically weaker than others. It doesn't mean they love less. Well, on the surface they might look like they don't love at all; maybe they feel they themselves are not worth loving; maybe they have lost hope. But who says love is only for the strong, the bright, the successful? Who says love doesn't shine a tiny light into the deep darkness of despair? 

 

Healthy relationships are a luxury of modern living, something we are aware of because we can afford to be. In hard times, for immigrants - that includes modern day immigrants - there is neither time nor money nor desire to dissect their own lives. There is only the need to succeed, to provide a better life for the children, to survive.    

 

Final point. I haven't researched this yet for the Ukraine; it is from remembering things I have read about customs and superstitions in the "old country." Children with deformities were sometimes thought of as harboring the devil. Sometimes they had spells on them. They were shunned.

 

So you take an unhappy, depressed woman, brought up in a desperate country, give her a husband who rapes her, gives her a child that contributes to her notion of not being whole, not being worthwhile, and you get Anna. 

 

Anna, I think, is the most complex character in the novel. I am watching her closely.   


Elisant wrote:

I agree that shooting the coyote was what most people in that time would have done.  I didn't find that fact strange at all. 

 

However, I don't think that Anna was suffering from any sort of mental illness before she married Stefan.  I believe that she is extremely depressed and that depression was caused by Stefan's abuse and neglect.  From the description of her before she married Stefan she seems, to me, to have been a carefree and happy young woman.  She began to have problems on their wedding night when he raped her for the first time.  The fact that she slept with a knife under her pillow to keep him away from her tells me that the rapes were a common occurance in their marriage.  

 

I beleive that Anna's mental health problems stem from Stefan directly. As for her neglect of her children, I get the feeling that they were born of rape as well.  Which, for me, explains why she ignores them and is so adamant in ending of her current pregnancy.  It isn't the best reason to neglect her children but, for me, it does explain why it is so hard for her to be good to them.  The part on page 113, where Lesya wakes up with a cramp in her foot and realizes that her mother is sleeping in their bed shows me that she does love her children, she just doesn't seem to know how to show it or what to do about it.

 

 

 

BarneyNoble wrote:

 

I am curious, and after reading many of the posts I think it may just be me but.....why does it seem so odd that Stefan would have shot the coyote?  They were on the frontier, a new land with wild, dangerous animals.  I think if I saw someone kneeling next to a coyote and their hand stretched out and its teeth showing, I would have done the same thing.  Really, how was he to know that she could communicate with them? This is the first sign that Anna is delusional and that she is from the very beginning.  I am not sure that her mental illness or her neglect /abuse of the children could be blamed on Stefan instead I think that she may have played a bigger part in Stefan’s absence.   This is not to excuse him from his neglect or abuse or any of the other nasty character traits he has, but I just can’t blame him for hers.  


 


 

Contributor
jokerc114
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎06-23-2009

Re: Adults and Children

I think the one word that comes to mind is Freedom. That's what they desire most, Anna freedom from a troubled life, Teodor freedom to support his family, and Maria the freedom of her family. I think that their push for a better life through all the tragedies that have ensured is very motivating.

 

My favorites characters so far are Lesya and Myron. Lesya has an inner strength that helps her overcome her disability and to thrive in any situation. Same for Myron, being the oldest he had to take on the responsibilities of the family when his father was taken to jail. He hopes for his father's approval and recognition of his growth just like Lesya hopes for a family built from love

 

 I am excited to continue but fear the tragedies still to come.

Books are not men and yet they stay alive. ~ Stephen Vincent Benet ~
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

Maria gets my vote for the best character in this novel. She is everything that most people want to be. Brave, strong, couragous,spirited, gentle,good,caring and I could go on with all the good adjectives that makes her so likeable.

 

It is such a  sharp contrast between Maria and Anna, that it seems you are reading from two different books.  I do not dislike Anna, only wish she could have been stronger for her children, for they are the ones that suffer for her weaknesses.

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pen21
Posts: 3,648
Registered: ‎03-23-2009
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Re: Adults and Children

[ Edited ]

 I agree with your opinions of Anna. There is no excuse for abusing and neglecting your children. Petro and Lesya will be characters to watch as the book progresses. Those 2 children are lucky to have their extended families.

A laurel for you.

pen21

 


BarneyNoble wrote:
And speaking of crazy husbands, don't get me wrong- I don't like Stefan.  He should have been in jail as far as I'm concerned.   Anna should be judged for her actions as a mother.  Being abused, neglected and yes even raped does not excuse her for abusing and neglected her children; whether she wanted them or not.   If that was the case then I have to ask, what hope is there for the children?  Did they not suffer the same abuse and neglect, loss of innocence, the same poverty and hunger, the same abandonment by Stefan?  Lesya seems to be able to overcome and be what her mother cannot and Petro, well he was just a vulnerable little boy trying to fit into his footsteps.  They were still holding on to hope. She may have been on the Canadian frontier and came from war-time Ukraine, but don't forget she had a wonderful extended family (that came from and are in the same place)  and they provided a great support system and that makes a world of difference. At best, I think she started out delusional and becomes depressed after childbirth.   For me (and it's just my opinion), Stefan and Anna are on the same level. (Debbie, I replied to you, but I am also responding to some of the other comments that were posted)

 

 

Message Edited by pen21 on 08-05-2009 08:11 AM
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dhaupt
Posts: 11,832
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

[ Edited ]

BarneyNoble wrote:
Thanks Debbie, are you referring to my nickname?  For a minute I thought you meant my love-handles?!?  It's funny because my ex-husband's and both my boys’ (and most men on that side of the family) are called Barn or Barney, short for Barnhart.  I am now re-married but my kid's friends still call me that, so I thought eh- why not-It fits.

 

 And speaking of crazy husbands, don't get me wrong- I don't like Stefan.  He should have been in jail as far as I'm concerned.   Anna should be judged for her actions as a mother.  Being abused, neglected and yes even raped does not excuse her for abusing and neglected her children; whether she wanted them or not.   If that was the case then I have to ask, what hope is there for the children?  Did they not suffer the same abuse and neglect, loss of innocence, the same poverty and hunger, the same abandonment by Stefan?  Lesya seems to be able to overcome and be what her mother cannot and Petro, well he was just a vulnerable little boy trying to fit into his footsteps.  They were still holding on to hope. She may have been on the Canadian frontier and came from war-time Ukraine, but don't forget she had a wonderful extended family (that came from and are in the same place)  and they provided a great support system and that makes a world of difference. At best, I think she started out delusional and becomes depressed after childbirth.   For me (and it's just my opinion), Stefan and Anna are on the same level. (Debbie, I replied to you, but I am also responding to some of the other comments that were posted)
Yes Barney I was talking about your nickname and how well it works especially here at B&N First Look book club. Love handles indeed ha ha ha.
I loved you thoughts on Anna and her children. Lesya is becoming my favorite character along with Maria. She(Lesya) is very strong willed and her disability is her catalyst for her strength. I wonder if she'd been born without the damaged foot if she would have been as strong. 

 

Message Edited by dhaupt on 08-05-2009 09:27 AM
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dclement04
Posts: 99
Registered: ‎09-30-2008
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Re: Adults and Children

I also wondered about this...can someone please explain because I know i havent read that much but I believe that this character should have been introduced already... so who is Mysha????????

Read-n-Rider wrote:

kpatton wrote:

I do have one question for the group- in the initial question for response Mysha was mentionedI don't recall this characterHow could I miss a whole character?

Kathy


I wondered about this, too, Kathy, but have come to think it must be a misspelling of another character's name.  These Ukranian names are not what we are used to, and it is easy to get them wrong.  If Mysha is indeed a character in the book, I missed him/her too!

 

Joan 

Message Edited by Read-n-Rider on 08-03-2009 02:43 PM

 

 

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dclement04
Posts: 99
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Re: Adults and Children

ok nevermind i figured it out...sorry guys.
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CathyB
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎12-30-2006
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Re: Adults and Children

 

I gree - I think that freedom is a key element for each of theses characters.

 


jokerc114 wrote:

I think the one word that comes to mind is Freedom. That's what they desire most, Anna freedom from a troubled life, Teodor freedom to support his family, and Maria the freedom of her family. I think that their push for a better life through all the tragedies that have ensured is very motivating.

 

My favorites characters so far are Lesya and Myron. Lesya has an inner strength that helps her overcome her disability and to thrive in any situation. Same for Myron, being the oldest he had to take on the responsibilities of the family when his father was taken to jail. He hopes for his father's approval and recognition of his growth just like Lesya hopes for a family built from love

 

 I am excited to continue but fear the tragedies still to come.


 

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momoftwinsMM
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎06-11-2009
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Re: Adults and Children

Did you notice that the children have no toys? How do they get along with each other? How do they play? Do they get much of a chance to be children?

 

These children are living in a different time than we are. Farming is the way of life for many, and they realize that in order to survive they must do their part. Playstations, computers and motorized toys are not ubiquitous and children are not barraged by tv ads that "hoc their wares" right into the home.

 

What does being a child mean to them? For us, one "becomes" an adult at age 18, but in this time many women would already be married and perhaps have a child or two. Life is about survival, not leisure. They do play together with what they have (chasing mice, swimming in the pond) when they have the opportunity. And I also note that most of the children have accepted this fact of life (work more than play) except for Sofia. So, I think that most of the characters do feel that they are having a chance to be children, because being a child in their time consisted of what they were already doing--it is the only way they know.

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Sheltiemama
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎06-01-2009
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Re: Adults and Children

Theo has been beaten down and is determine to fight back and make a good life for his family.

 

Maria is an earth mother, and her family is so lucky to have her.

 

Anna is broken.

 

Myron is resentful.

 

Lesya is very strong, very determined for someone so young.

 

I'm still working on the rest of the children.

 

The mother and daughter have such interesting relationships with animals, but it seems that Lesya has broken through, while Anna wishes to.

 

I love Lesya, who doesn't make excuses, but I'm most intrigued by Anna. And you have to like Maria. When did these woman have time to sleep? I want Theo to be successful.

 

In some ways, the relationships between the adults and the children is different from modern relationships. They have to do manual labor for their families to survive. But I know there are many children today having to take care of a sick parent, like Anna.

 

I think Ivan wants to be like his father, and the girls use Maria as a role model. She's also Lesya's role model.