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Sheltiemama
Posts: 107
Registered: ‎06-01-2009

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

When a foot of snow fell in October, I wondered what winter was going to be like! Where I live, we're still wearing short sleeves in October. I couldn't handle a foot of snow in October. I'd be so depressed. For me, the terrible weather adds to the feeling of oppression.

 

About Theo and Maria's family being determined to survive: It isn't just one thing. Most members of the family (I'm looking at you, Sofia) understand just how vital it is that they all work to keep the family fed, sheltered and functioning in such a direct way. Yes, most of us have jobs and careers, but dinner doesn't depend on whether a rabbit has wandered into a snare I set out. They understand how important their contributions are.

 

Oh, man, do I hate Stefan. Just when it looked like some light and life were returning to Anna's household, he returns. It's like all the air was sucked out of their home. I felt like everything in their house was in shades of gray. At Theo and Anna's house, though, I can see colors. I see the fire burning in the stove and feel the warmth and love. In Anna's house, I feel cold and fear. Theo and Maria know how to run a household, but Anna and Stefan don't. For example, Maria really knows how to stretch a chicken, while it would be just one meal in Stefan's house. And I have to keep reminding myself that Lesya is only 10. I can't imagine doing the things she has to do when I was that age.

 

 

 I do think Theo's dangerously proud, though he does swallow his pride sometimes, such as when he got at least some money for his grain.

 

I have to add that I loved the receipt for the family's purchases at the store, right down to the penny candy, which was so touching.

 

 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

That was heartbreaking. Lesya has far too much on her little shoulders.

 


bookloverjb85 wrote:

 

It was interesting to find out that Lesya blames herself for her mother being raped by her father the last time.  She was determined to stay awake and protect her mother, but unfortunately was lulled to sleep by the soothing murmuring of her father's voice.


 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I had no idea what the niche in the wall was for when he was building the house. I can't believe he was so determined to have that little jug of alcohol that he carved a space out for it in the house. Though I have to admit that hiding it behind a painting of the Virgin Mary was clever.

 


Zephyr_Marie wrote:

 

 

As for Theo being dangerously proud - I can somewhat agree with Maria on this, but not entirely.  I can understand her irritation with his secret in the wall, though. He already spent time in prison, and he would so easily risk it again? He has a family to care for, and that should be at the forefront of his mind, especially with Stefan's return and his untrustworthiness.


 

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Wisteria-L
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


Hi Impmn....stay tuned.

Wisteria,

"Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Inspired Contributor
Wisteria-L
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎07-06-2009

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


lmpmn wrote:

I just wanted to make a general statement about the book as we progress into the middle of our discussion (even though I've done the unthinkable and read the whole book, which I never do in First Look!)

 

This is the saddest book I've read in a really long time.  It makes me feel a bit depressed when I read, but I think that's only because I know that these circumstances and how these people lived have been shared by millions worldwide in the past and even now.  I think I feel so bad because these characters have become real to me in a way.

 

My great-grandparents on my father's side came from Germany to Minnesota to farm in the late 1800s.  I'm sure they lived a harsh and difficult life in such cold climates during the winter.

 

I've really enjoyed reading the book and have found it very hard to put down!


I empathize with how you are feeling. There is so much desperation and cold. The warmth I feel is very seldom. I think this is on purpose. We are meant to feel the harshness of the life and the pain both families endured. Shandi is a remarkably gifted storyteller, in my opinion. I too, could not put this book down. Her poetic and metaphoric imagery captivated my attention throughout. I read and re-read passages that were too beautiful to forget. 

 

You're right also in saying Shandi has made the characters live. They breathe and they feel. We feel their pain and breathe their air. It is an amazing book. 

Wisteria,

"Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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libralady
Posts: 159
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I think Teodor could be considered "dangerously proud".  I can see how Maria would think that.   I remember the passage where Teodor has gone off to town in the snow storm to pay for the land and how angry Maria is with him.  She is thinking, "Think of us.  Forget your pride, forget being right. Being right sent you to jail..."  In this instance it seems that Maria is blaming Teodor's pride and his "being right" for almost everything that has happened to them.  I think that it is this pride that has made it possible for Teodor to endure all of the hardships and setbacks and to continue to provide for his family and take care of his sister.  I can understand that it has put him in dangerous situations, but I feel that without it he may have given up and his family would have turned out to be like Anna and Stephan. 
"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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melisndav
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Can you describe the Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate?   Autumn seems not to exist here.  The frost comes early, but this is much the case in your northern areas.

 

Theo and Maria's family are determined to survive. In what ways do you see this in each of the characters?  Each of the children continue to help with the garden, the wheat field, the egg gathering, milking the cow, etc.  The eldest son and daughter are preparing for their lives in the future when they have a family of their own.

 

Now that Stefan has returned, we can see how each of these households operate-Can you compare what it's like to live inside each house?  When Stefan returned, you can see how Anna falls apart.  Prior to his return, she had started to take an interest in her children and working the farm with Maria's family.   Stefan was not a provider to his family as Teodor and Maria sent much of the food and supplies that Anna's family needed over to them.  Stefan seemed to worry only about hisself and drinking than to help Teodor make a name for both families with the farm.

 

How would you describe Anna and Stefan's family life, as opposed to Anna's household without Stefan?  Anna seems to hate having Stefan around but then again, she does like having a man around.  She is scared for him to leave again but she wants him gone.  While he was away, she had started to sing and treated the children as they were hers.

 

Maria accuses Theo of being dangerously proud-Do you agree, or not?   I do agree to some extent.  Every man should be proud for what he works for and provides his family with. 

Wordsmith
Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

It dawned on me last night while reading what this book reminded me of (and I mean this in the most sincere, complimentary way) --- the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Those books were my favorites as a child.  I recognize the same landscape and fighting the elements in Under This Unbroken Sky.   However, the plot and themes of Under This Unbroken Sky are definitely for adults only!

 

Autumn in this climate seems like winter to me!

 

I head into the last section of reading, Winter, full of worry about what might happen.

 

First, I am worried that Maria will lose her baby after the accidental blow from Stefan.

 

Second, I am worried that Stefan will find a way to take the land from Teodor.

 

Third, I am worried about Katya's sacrifices of the body of Christ to the stove, which I think represents the fires of hell.  She burned the piece of paper which stated the agreement about the $10 payment. 

 

Fourth, I am worried about the safety and sanity of Anna.  On page 207, she fed the coyote a chunk of beef, depriving her family of much needed food.  More troubling  is her thought on page 151, "It's so much easier with the coyotes.  They ask nothing of her."  She has checked out mentally from her life.  I think Lesya is the only hope for that family.  Petro is well on his way to behaving like his father.

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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ilenekm
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


BDonnelly wrote:

Debbie-

 

I am enjoying the novel.  I think Ms. Mitchell is a wonderful writer and she is giving us an  effective, moving story.  My experience is just one of  anxiety - it is not a relaxed read.  I care about these characters!  But I like all kinds of books - if it gets tougher for me I'll just pick up a Jennifer Weiner to balance things out!


 
Debbie
 I agree with you. I do find myself worrying what is going to happen to the characters next.  I am really drawn into this book.
 As a diversion, I just picked up the new Janet Evanovich book at the library. 

 

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Fozzie
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall - my thoughts


Amanda-Louise wrote:

Maria has bruises on her wrists - are those from Teodor or someone else?  If from Teodor, are they due to his post-traumatic stress or to a turn in his personality? 


Teodor grabbed her wrist when they were having a serious discussion about something, either the land, money, or Anna and Stefan.  He gripped her so hard he bruised her wrist.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


 

I assume that Anna hid the money.  I don't know how she could have gotten the money to the land office by herself.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I can understand why Teodor could be termed dangerously proud.  He stands up for himself when others expect him to back down.  I find myself thinking what it must have been like as an immigrant, especially since my grandparents were immigrants and I have read many books about immigrant experiences.  Immigrants have been discriminated against for hundreds of years.  It takes a generation or two for the decendents to "make it," so to speak.  Immigrants have to be driven, have to fight for their rights, yet have to know just the right time and place to back off.  I think Theodor is walking that fine line that many immigrants walk between survival and being swindled.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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spaced57
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I feel so angry and frustrated at Stefan and I'm sure he is going to ruin these people forever. I wish I could jump into the story and tell them what they're doing will only cause ruin in the end, to get rid of Stefan right now...LOL! He is not the main character, and yet he is the most important to me, if it weren't for him, things between these households would be fine.

Yet, all the characters play an integral part in this marvelously woven story.

I'm enjoying every bit of it. 

Fall time in Canada, reminds me of my state of Minnesota. Describing this time in the book reminds me of playing with my cousins as a child. Like the two boys play and compete.

Only I'm a girl and played with my girl cousins, but we competed a lot.

I cannot wait to see what happens with these two families.

I'm hoping for the best, but with Stephan, it isn't going to happen.

 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I stayed with the schedule through spring and summer, but once I got through fall, I had to keep reading, too.

 


lmpmn wrote:

I just wanted to make a general statement about the book as we progress into the middle of our discussion (even though I've done the unthinkable and read the whole book, which I never do in First Look!)

 

 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

The more I read, the more I was struck by the animal symbolism, too.

 


ssizemore wrote:
Fantastic!  Love the color symbolism.

 

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Sheltiemama
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I wanted to slap her when she did that.

 


Fozzie wrote:

 

Fourth, I am worried about the safety and sanity of Anna.  On page 207, she fed the coyote a chunk of beef, depriving her family of much needed food.  More troubling  is her thought on page 151, "It's so much easier with the coyotes.  They ask nothing of her."  She has checked out mentally from her life.  I think Lesya is the only hope for that family.  Petro is well on his way to behaving like his father.

 


 

Contributor
Christie62
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-10-2009

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Can you describe the Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate?

  My idea of Autumn based on where I live is a bountiful season, weather more temperate than the brutal summer heat, plentiful food due to the season of harvest. However, in our story the Autumn starts out more like a harsh winter season, with snow beginning in the middle of October. It appears that the families will be in a dire situation if their harvest/canning/preserving chores are not already completed by this time of the year in order to be prepared for what will probably be a very challenging winter season.

 

Theo and Maria's family are determined to survive. In what ways do you see this in each of the characters?

   Theo and Maria set an example for their whole family of what it must take to survive in this climate and situation. Almost everything they do is done with an attitude of focusing on the future. They encourage and include all members of the family, even the youngest to be mindful of their situation. I enjoyed seeing how Theo and Maria worked cooperatively to plan when they reviewed their supply list, and adjusted it when the income from the wheat was less than they expected it to be.  I also noticed that there needed to be flexibility in their planning, for example when Theo and Myron abruptly decided to bag up the wheat and get it in to town after they discovered the invasion of the mice. 

 

Now that Stefan has returned, we can see how each of these households operate-Can you compare what it's like to live inside each house?

   These two households couldn't be more different!  In Theo and Maria's home, everyone has a responsibility, but the children have the security of knowing that the parents are the ones in charge.  They are cautious with their food, rationing out the supplies because they know they will need to last through the winter. They also are generous with their love for their children, making sure that they know they are valued as members of the family. The children also see that their parents truly care for one another. They also keep their connection to their family history by sharing stories , music and dancing.

On the other hand, there is no love in Stefan and Anna's house between the parents, only greed. It is shameful that Stefan would allow his children to bear the responsibilities for the household when he has not been a leader enough to do his part. The children both try desperately for approval, and sadly Petro is following his father's example of being a bully to get what he wants.

 

How would you describe Anna and Stefan's family life, as opposed to Anna's household without Stefan?

   I had hopes for Anna until Stefan returned. Without Stefan, even though Anna was incapable of caring for her home and family, she was receptive to Maria caring for her. Stefan's return eliminated that major source of support for Anna. Together, Anna and Stefan seem like greedy children, eager to consume everything at once without a thought to the children or the future.  Without Maria, Anna's only connection to the world is her unhealthy "bond" with the coyotes, and even they turn away from her when they smelled Stefan's scent on her.

 

Maria accuses Theo of being dangerously proud-Do you agree, or not?

    Considering the setting of the story, I would agree with Maria.  Although it is not "right" that a man should not be fairly compensated for his working the land, and it is not "right" that a man should not be allowed to have wine in his own home,Theo's strong sense of right vs wrong puts his family at risk, and it would have been wise for him to swallow his pride.

 

 

   

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no4daughter
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Like many others, I could not stop reading this book so I am going to only address a couple of general points so as not to accidently let something slip. 

 

Can you describe the Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate?

 

Here in rural Northern Wisconsin summer is too short, winter is too long and we really don't have spring so autumn is a favorite season for many.  I imagine it is much the same in rural Canada.

 

Autumn is a time to get ready for the loooooong winter. It is so satisfying to see all that your labors of the summer have provided for you when you preserve them for the winter but, at the same time, unsettling to know that you may not have enough to last.  

 

Theo and Maria's family are determined to survive. In what ways do you see this in each of the characters?

 

Theo and Maria and their family know that hard work is what it takes to survive and try to make the most of every day.  They feel blessed.  Stephan (and Anna and their son when he is around) uses much of his energy trying to find an easy way to survive in this harsh environment.  By doing that, they don't get ahead or appreciate what they do have.    

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pen21
Posts: 3,648
Registered: ‎03-23-2009

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I agree with you on the almost stopped. I will continue the book. It seemed to lose something in that Fall section. Some motivator from the first chapters was missing. For me the abuse was a piece of it, but a small piece. I think that Stefan was abusive was predictable. I am still trying to put my finger on what it is about this section of the book that was turning me off.

pen21


pode wrote:

I almost stopped reading toward the end of FALL.  We all knew Stefan would be back and life for the families would change and become worse.  I wasn't prepared for it to get so brutal.  I have trouble with reading about abuse, let alone abuse of a pregnant woman.  All I can see ahead is more and more trouble.  I know this is realistic but I'm not sure I want to read about it.

 

Pode


 

 
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Claire-Wachtel
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


JoyZ wrote: I haven't finished the book yet, trying to stay on schedule, but am anxious to finish to find out what happens with Dania and Petro and if the paper Katya burned is the deed.  I love suspense.

JoyZ, I think you make several astute points in your post - - and I agree with your comment at the end. One of the things I loved so much when I first read Shandi's manuscript was the suspense. Based on the little clues she has left for the reader, we know something climactic will happen. At the time, I simply had to read onward to find out.

 

Are others enjoying the suspense? Or does it feel like something else to you?