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CathyB
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎12-30-2006

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I saw the Spring as a rebirth of the family. They were just surviving until Teodor's return. Then they all came together and began to build and plant seeds (literally and figuratively).
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Kourt
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Like most everyone here I also feels sorry for Maria and her children. I makes me shutter at the way immigrants are treated upon arrival in North America. I also see Maria as the Matriarch of the 2 families. She constants gives without asking for anything in return. She is a survivor.
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KathyS
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Donna,

Yes - I'll let you know how it tastes! [smile]

K.S.


DSaff wrote:

I wanted to be one of the taste testers when the spoon was going around, didn't you. <grin>


KathyS wrote:

That garden was a breath of fresh air!  I'm going to the market tomorrow and get the ingredients for the Bilyi Borshch p. 61 - I love Borshch!  Couldn't you just taste it as they were scraping the bottoms of their bowls?! :smileyhappy:



 

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Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

This year there was wheat in the field in back of my house.  Sunday it took three very large combines abould eight hours to harvest 25 acres.  I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to harvest the six acres by hand. 
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biljounc63
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Re: Early Chapters - my thoughts


JaneM wrote:
One thing I noticed in the first sections was the very frequent use of detailed numbers.  The families could have 160 acres for $10, and spent 13 days in steerage.  Theo counts the steps from his prison cell to the dirt yard and counts time by steps “one hundred and eighty-six thousand steps”.  His clothes are 3 sizes too large and he tightens the belt five extra notches. At the fire Theo used a 20’ fire break rather than 40’.  They put water barrels every 20’.  “Of the six acres of wheat, three were lost.  Also lost were seven barrels, two pots, three blankets, a harness, two rakes, one shove, one ax, one chicken coop, six chickens, one rooster and a child’s shoe.”  The temperature is often mentioned – in the house, or outside during the fire.  I also find it interesting that the temp is stated in Fahrenheit since Canada uses a Celsius scale.   

 

In any case, I find the number references fascinating and it makes me think of how little these people have in their lives, so that every acre, every shoe, every ax is equally important.

 

Jane M

I equated the focus on numbers with the fact that the family does not have much and any loss it a great loss. They have limited resources to regain anything that is lost. How many of us if we lost what we have could really list what we did lose?

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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momoftwinsMM
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I agree. We see how Maria does what has to be done to provide for her family as she becomes the sole parent, while Anna wallows in her stillborn dreams.

 

I can also see how the terror of 2 strange birthing experiences, compounded by a husband who turned out to be very different from her expectations impelled a need to escape. I'm not entirely sure what the wolf represents at this point...death/the wild? All of which, Maria did not have to endure. Giving birth is a life changing experience, and the process & outcome can change someone for better or for worse.

 

 

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momoftwinsMM
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Re: Early Chapters - my thoughts

{I equated the focus on numbers with the fact that the family does not have much and any loss it a great loss. They have limited resources to regain anything that is lost. How many of us if we lost what we have could really list what we did lose? biljounc63}

 

I also think numbers, for Teo, was a way in which her ordered his worl. It had been his only mental & phycial activity while in prison. In a sense, the counting continues to remind him of this prison and may actually act as a wall between the present and past. Does the counting help him to get away from the rush of emotions and responsibility that returning home has burdened him with? Or does it reinforce the separation between himself and his family that existed while he was in prison? Perhaps both; thereby making the transition more bearable.

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no4daughter
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎10-15-2007
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I have read all but one of the First Look selections and think that this book, by far, is the best.  I cannot wait to finish my post here so that I read the Fall section.  After reading the other comments I have a few thoughts. 

 

From the opening description of the photograph, of which I have seen many that are similar, along with the foretelling of the tragedies that would haunt this family, I knew we were in for a good read.  As I began the opening chapters I was reminded of how many immigrant families, including my own grandparents, most likely have stories of their own hardships once they arrived in a new country.  I do not recall my own grandparents ever dwelling on or sharing those stories with us.  Instead, they only spoke of how awful the "old country" was and how grateful they were to be given the opportunity to start a new life.    

 

The choice of dividing the sections into seasons is understandable because, as farmers, the lives of this family are dependant on and completely immersed in the seasons.  

 

I wonder if Teodor's facing his boots towards the door as well as Anna's cutting of her hair after the rape and knowledge that she became pregnant are Ukrainian superstitions. 

 

I loved the description of Teodor visiting his newly begun house on the hill on Sunday's and the statement that "This is his church". 

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momoftwinsMM
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎06-11-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

After Theo's exhausted, hardened entrance--were you surprised at the warmth that this family obviously had for each other? Was Theo the sort of person you were expecting?

 

I wasn't really surprised at the way the children or even Maria took the return of their father. He hadn't left by choice and it was a relief (Maria notes that she can finally sleep at night). Children are resilient and long for a father's love and protection--it is like a dream come true to have everyone together again and perhaps provided hope for a better future.

 

Teo is a broken man, but not irreparable. His time in prison has made him rely on himself (as opposed to God) to make things happened--building a home, sowing the crop so they can reap the rewards. At the same time, I'm glad that he is not forcing Maria to give up on the faith that probably got her through many lonely and difficult days.

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pen21
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Yes, the land was a character. I like your description.

 


readslots4 wrote:

I wanted to mention how in a book like this, the land becomes a character of its' own.  When things don't go as planned you not only feel for the family but you feel what they might feel towards the land and what it had done to them.  


 

 
EC
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EC
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

My first impression of Maria is a strong women who would do anything to keep her family live.  Anna's lfe has not turned out like she thought - the abuse of her husband & him leaving has left her like an empty shell. The pregnancy does not help her. It makes Anna more depressed because it reminds her of him & also how Lesya is "not" perfect.  The childen are hard workers too just like Maria.  She has taught them well.

 

Theo is what I thought he would be just like Maria will do anything for his family. Stealing wheat to feed his family even though he knew he could go to jail, is very admirable of him. I really repect him & Maria. 

 

The seasons demand on the families is very hard & struggling but they make it through. All memebers working together is what makes them strong.

 

The families will survive just the way they have been surviving - hard work & dedication to each other.  I m not surprised of the calamaties due to the time the story takes place.

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shannonbh
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎09-20-2008

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Someone earlier already posted something similar, but  i agree with his/her characterizations of Anna and Maria.  Anna seems very vain  -  her choice in husband, difficulty loving her child with a deformity - to the point she couldn't even allow her to nurse.  I think a symbol of this vanity is the way she holds onto the silver brush and mirror - objects of vanity.  Reminders of her former life/beauty.  While I think there is redemption in beauty, it rarely comes in the form of vanity.  There is, however, something beautifully redemptive about Maria.  Doing what it takes while the husband she loves and cares deeply for is in prison.  I was also shocked by the tragedies that overtake the family so quickly.  I must confess, it is hard to read about so much bad happening to one immigrant family.  I am trying to embrace the characters, and look for the redemption in their traits/personas.  ( I like stories with redemption, a silver lining, what have you - doesn't have to end happily - just needs to feel like there is a chance for joy in the dance.)
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

What are your initial impressions of Maria, Anna, and the children? Do your first impressions of these characters hold true as the novel progresses?

How did Maria and her children wind up here? 

 

My first impression of Maria is that she is a strong woman; a survivor who holds her home and family very close to her heart.  The fact that she carried and protected a handkerchief with soil from her homeland was a pretty clear indication to me that "HOME" means a great deal to her. Her actions in the novel so far have also shown that she is willing to work hard and doesn't complain.  It seems everything she does, from darning clothing to working in the heat, is done with love for her family.  I like Maria.  She's the type of woman I would hope to be in such circumstances.

 

My first impression of Anna was slightly different in the beginning, as I was impressed by Anna's willingness to take her brother's family into her own home and that she made sure to purchase land for her brother.  She wanted to be sure he was taken care of and that he had the land he so justly deserved.  I feel she understood that Teodor's incarceration was unjust. My impression of Anna changed as I began to know more about Stefan and the family's circumstances.  I started to see her as suffering from major depression and little to no self esteem.  She sees herself and her family as victims of circumstance.  Her future was purely dependant upon whom she married and she used the only power she had to decide to marry an officer who might take her away to a good life in the city.  Things didn't turn out the way she had envisioned.  Her beauty is gone and so is her belief that life holds good possibilities for her.  She's stuck in a life she never wanted and pregnant with a child she doesn't want.  Her only taste of freedom from everything is her desire to be with the coyotes, who she believes are watching over her, calling to her.  Anna is a very sad, hopeless character; much the opposite of Maria.

 

 

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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cmmn
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Maria is a mother her would do anything for her family.  She is not only providing for her own three children while her husband is away, she is also the mother figure for her nephew and niece.  She is a strong woman who takes what life hands her and makes the best of it.   

Her niece Lesya is very much like her.  Lesya has to be both mother and sister to her brother.  She accepts her disability and has found a way to work as hard or harder than someone without. 

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Eckwell
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

My initial impression is that Maria is a very determined person, hard worker, and someone who sees that something needs to be done and does it. She has had to become the glue that holds together 2 families and she is able to accept the fact of that, embrace it, and move on.

 

Anna, on the other hand, seems to be an individual who is not strong emotionally or physically.  In her desire to marry someone she overlooked much of his shortcomings and really did not know him.  When things did not turn out perfectly for her, such as with her daughter's disability, she was unable to cope.  It was easier for her to shut out those around her than embrace the life that she had.

 

I think that Maria's family will be able to cope with what is thrust upon them, tho it will be difficult.  I do not have high hopes for Anna's family as there does not appear to be an adequate parent in that family.

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blkeyesuzi
Posts: 730
Registered: ‎01-26-2008

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

This family, at times, has barely any necessities--how do they make do?

 

This family makes do with only the barest of necessities.  They manage by repairing what they have, recycling items for other uses, and most importantly....being grateful for each other and for what little they do have.  The leather from Theo's shoes is used to repair halters and other leather items. Maria cans items from the garden and knits socks/mittens, etc to prepare for the winter, and Theo cuts wood.  Each member of the family plays a part in running the farm and preparing for the times when things are scarce.  Maria is also very careful in regard to rationing meat and other food items to be sure the family is fed.

 

Times like this make or break a family.  In my family's case, it made the family stronger.  The Great Depression affected my family severely and as a result, my great-grandparents and grandparents taught all of us to save and not to waste. There were times during the depression that they almost starved.  My grandmother talks about eating bread with syrup for every meal, since there was a factory nearby and they were able to manage getting syrup but nothing else.  Another grandmother told me stories about picking cotton in the Texas heat...she was only 7 years old when she was going to the fields with the rest of the family to work.   The men also sat at job sites waiting to be called up for jobs in the oil fields...all they could do is hope they would be fortunate enough to be chosen on any particular day. Steady work was hard to come by. They did what they needed to do to help the family survive.

 

The effects of the depression are still seen throughout my family when it comes to taking care of what we have and making the best of what is available.  Even though times were terribly hard on my grandparents, they speak fondly of those times because the family stuck together and found joy in the simple things.  I'm grateful to them for teaching me the value of family and how important it is that we NOT become wasteful or take things for granted. These are values I have passed on to my own children and I hope they will do the same when the time comes.

 

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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edelweissAM
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I was hooked from the introduction. With each page, the characters become more like family. They are not characters anymore but real people with their layers of character being slowly revealed. The cycle of life becomes more and more evident. With each hardship, people become weaker or stronger.
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GadgetgirlKS
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Registered: ‎02-10-2009
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I am trying something new...I am going to post first then read everyone else's answers. Does anyone else do this? After I read everyone's posts I often feel I have nothing new to add, so maybe this way I will add something new or slightly different. 

 

Initial impressions: Although Anna is suffering from depression, I believe she is still a strong person to live through everything that has been thrown at her and to live alone out in the country with only her sister in law and children. This would have been a very difficult time in history to be two women providing for all their children. I have hope that Anna will recover from the depression and demonstrate how strong she really is, but this can only be answered as we progress through the novel.

 

I think that Maria and her children were lucky to have family nearby to rely on when Theo went to jail. As much as they needed Anna, Anna needed them even more.

 

I was unsure if Theo would be harsh and angry at the world, or if he would be the type of man to move on and try to rebuild. I glad to see he turned out to be a strong, nonviolent man because Anna's husband has that more than covered.

 

The family survives because they depend on each other and work together, there is not one member that doesn't work hard. Impossible struggles can only be won with teamwork and hard work, I sure hope they make it!

 

 

 

 

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Zeal
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Re: Early Chapters - my thoughts

 


 Jane,

 

You made really good observationsEvery little scrap was counted and used to its fullestSurvival meant that nothing was wasted, everything was accounted for, and essential supplies were ranked according to importanceThere was little room for luxury.

 

Aimee

 

 


JaneM wrote:
One thing I noticed in the first sections was the very frequent use of detailed numbers.  The families could have 160 acres for $10, and spent 13 days in steerage.  Theo counts the steps from his prison cell to the dirt yard and counts time by steps “one hundred and eighty-six thousand steps”.  His clothes are 3 sizes too large and he tightens the belt five extra notches. At the fire Theo used a 20’ fire break rather than 40’.  They put water barrels every 20’.  “Of the six acres of wheat, three were lost.  Also lost were seven barrels, two pots, three blankets, a harness, two rakes, one shove, one ax, one chicken coop, six chickens, one rooster and a child’s shoe.”  The temperature is often mentioned – in the house, or outside during the fire.  I also find it interesting that the temp is stated in Fahrenheit since Canada uses a Celsius scale.   

 

In any case, I find the number references fascinating and it makes me think of how little these people have in their lives, so that every acre, every shoe, every ax is equally important.

 

Jane M

 

 


JaneM wrote:
One thing I noticed in the first sections was the very frequent use of detailed numbers.  The families could have 160 acres for $10, and spent 13 days in steerage.  Theo counts the steps from his prison cell to the dirt yard and counts time by steps “one hundred and eighty-six thousand steps”.  His clothes are 3 sizes too large and he tightens the belt five extra notches. At the fire Theo used a 20’ fire break rather than 40’.  They put water barrels every 20’.  “Of the six acres of wheat, three were lost.  Also lost were seven barrels, two pots, three blankets, a harness, two rakes, one shove, one ax, one chicken coop, six chickens, one rooster and a child’s shoe.”  The temperature is often mentioned – in the house, or outside during the fire.  I also find it interesting that the temp is stated in Fahrenheit since Canada uses a Celsius scale.   

 

In any case, I find the number references fascinating and it makes me think of how little these people have in their lives, so that every acre, every shoe, every ax is equally important.

 

Jane M

JaneM wrote:
One thing I noticed in the first sections was the very frequent use of detailed numbers.  The families could have 160 acres for $10, and spent 13 days in steerage.  Theo counts the steps from his prison cell to the dirt yard and counts time by steps “one hundred and eighty-six thousand steps”.  His clothes are 3 sizes too large and he tightens the belt five extra notches. At the fire Theo used a 20’ fire break rather than 40’.  They put water barrels every 20’.  “Of the six acres of wheat, three were lost.  Also lost were seven barrels, two pots, three blankets, a harness, two rakes, one shove, one ax, one chicken coop, six chickens, one rooster and a child’s shoe.”  The temperature is often mentioned – in the house, or outside during the fire.  I also find it interesting that the temp is stated in Fahrenheit since Canada uses a Celsius scale.   

 

In any case, I find the number references fascinating and it makes me think of how little these people have in their lives, so that every acre, every shoe, every ax is equally important.

 

Jane M

 

"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
Sharon Draper
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dhaupt
Posts: 11,832
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


GadgetgirlKS wrote:

I am trying something new...I am going to post first then read everyone else's answers. Does anyone else do this? After I read everyone's posts I often feel I have nothing new to add, so maybe this way I will add something new or slightly different. 

 
 
I always post first, then read other thoughts, for the same reason you mentioned