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Distinguished Correspondent
PiperMurphy
Posts: 174
Registered: ‎09-19-2008

Re: Two Families


rkubie wrote:

The children, of course, seem to mark the differences between the two families most. How would you describe those differences?

 

What are the marriages like?

 

What is the relationship between Anna and Maria?


 

The thing that struck me most about the children was that they seemed more like siblings than cousins. Maria seems to mother them all. I got the impression that even though Anna was providing a place for Maria and her family to live, and they maintained two separate homes, it was Maria and her children who were working the farm and making sure that everyone was provided for. Maria planted the garden. Myron did the farm chores with the help of the other kids. Lesya helped Maria rather than her mother.

 

I think that this indicates what the marriages were like. Maria had the strength to maintain her family in Teodor's absence, while Anna didn't want her husband anywhere near her. Her children became victims of her unhappy marriage.

 

Maria and Anna are sisters-in-law, but they don't seem to be friends. Anna is so apathetic about her life that she doesn't seem to care about building a relationship. I have a feeling that their interactions will be a result of duty because they are family rather than because they share a closeness.

"When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."
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Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Two Families

I found that the relationship between Anna and Stefan was almost one of master and slave. He horrified me. She seemed so powerless to fight him off.
As siblings, Teodor and Anna appear to be polar opposites, with Teodor seeming to be very strong and Anna appearing much weaker, unhappy and unable to function in the face of hardship while he summons his strength and seems to be a survivor.
However, if we take into consideration, the time and place of these events, we realize that women, in those days, had few rights and little ability to fight back alone. Perhaps Anna was identifying with the freedom, independence and strength of the coyote, for you aptly described her as locked in her own prison. Perhaps she wanted to be that coyote and flee.

BooksRPam wrote:

....snip...

Anna, however, and her husband Stefan are another story.  Even when they were together physically, the emotional connection was never there.  Their bond was that of fear and revulsion and absolutely no respect for Anna on Stefan's part.

 

It's when you compare Anna and Teodor that I find it most compelling, though.  While Teodor knows who he is and where he belongs and, I'm sure, never doubted it for a second while he was in prison, Anna is locked within her own emotional prison.  On page 11 Teodor realizes that Anna is not staring out the window at Teodor outside in the darkness or even at the sky, but, alas, is staring into her own eyes, her own soul.  Teodor "wants to stand up and tell her that he is here."

 

The same words are actually used later on page 22 when Anna hears the coyote calling.  "I'm here," she whispers back.  "I'm here."  It's as if her family are the coyotes, the wild coyotes who are not slaves to physical bonds, slaves to an abusive husband, slaves to ever-demanding children.  Anna lives in a prison within herself.


 

Frequent Contributor
ethel55
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎04-11-2008
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Re: Two Families

Maria is surely more nurturing than Anna.  It's interesting as in-laws that they aren't a bit closer in this foriegn land, but they do seem like very different women.

 

And sometimes, like with poor Lesya--that beautiful voice doesn't seem to make up completely for the foot in Anna's mind.   I wonder if Anna looks to Maria's family and kids as "perfect".  Her brother, even with jail behind, is a good man unlike the specter of Stefan which hangs over Anna right now.

Scribe
DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Two Families

Nice pick-up on the words. :smileywink:


BooksRPam wrote:

On page 11 Teodor realizes that Anna is not staring out the window at Teodor outside in the darkness or even at the sky, but, alas, is staring into her own eyes, her own soul.  Teodor "wants to stand up and tell her that he is here."

 

The same words are actually used later on page 22 when Anna hears the coyote calling.  "I'm here," she whispers back.  "I'm here."  It's as if her family are the coyotes, the wild coyotes who are not slaves to physical bonds, slaves to an abusive husband, slaves to ever-demanding children.  Anna lives in a prison within herself.


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Inspired Correspondent
nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
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Re: Two Families

The children are a good indicator. They love being with Maria and not Anna. From the description of Anna, who would. Interestingly Petro wants his father to come home, but not Lesya. One family, that with Maria as the mother, is a very protective environment. In fact, Maria is a much stronger character than Teodor. In Anna's family, the who group is completely broken. Stephan is gone and Anna can't cope with it, or the children. I wonder how much jealousy there is between the two women, Anna and Maria. There's an old axiom that says we hate most those to whom we are most beholden.
Contributor
BambooMom
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎03-13-2009

Re: Two Families

In another time and place, the relationship between Maria and Anna would probably be very distant. Maria takes care of Anna out of necessity, and because there just isn't another option. They would not be friends in any situation. When I see two siblings (Anna and T) who are so different in their adult lives and how they deal with adversity, I wonder what their childhood home was like. 

 

I am really enjoying the story! 

Distinguished Correspondent
emmagrace
Posts: 162
Registered: ‎12-04-2008

Re: Two Families

Maria's children have very little and yet they seem very happy/appreciative with what they have. They are respectful to their parents, and they work hard with little complaint. Their mother makes sure that they attend church and she dresses them in the best outfits they have and marches them 8 miles up the road to church every Sunday.

 

Petro and Lesya are good kids despite being neglected. Lesya has had to take on the role of being Petro's mother and they spend almost all of their time at their Aunt and Uncles house. Maria has to wash their dishes, feed them and show them the love and attention that they so desperately need!

 

Teodore and Maria have a strong marriage that has withstood so many obstacles. They are one another's rocks. Stefan and Anna have no marriage at all! He has cheated on her, raped her and leaves for huge periods at a time.

 

Maria often has to take care of Anna almost as if she were a child. I think that their is respect between the two women, but Maria is horrified at Anna's disregard for her unborn child.

Inspired Contributor
melisndav
Posts: 37
Registered: ‎06-16-2009

Re: Two Families

I would say that the children in Teodor & Maria's family where very responsible, respecting children.  Sofia was a little bratty when she did not get a new dress and Ivan got new boots.  The two youngest children where very happy youngsters and at an early age, was developing their own personalities with the church and life in general.

 

Stefan & Anna's children - Lesya was a very backward, self-conscience teenager due to her disability with her foot and she seemed like she wanted to remain hidden.  Petro was easily

manipulated by Ivan and wanted to be accepted by his father.

 

The impression that I got from the relationship between Maria and Anna was that Maria loved her sister-in-law a great deal and did not like to see her suffer.  I believe that she knew what went on with Stefan and how horribly he treated her.  I think that Anna did not know exactly what to make of Maria's gestures and was afraid to ask for help or just to have Maria listen to her.

Inspired Wordsmith
CathyB
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎12-30-2006

Re: Two Families

Anna & Stefan have a horrible marriage. She is a battered wife. He is a drunk and an abuser. There is no love there anymore - neither for each other nor for their children. Anna did not want either children - she ignores them.

 

Maria & Teodore have a loving marriage. They are caring individuals. They love all of their children. Maria takes care of both sets of children - and at times, Anna.

 

Distinguished Bibliophile
pen21
Posts: 3,648
Registered: ‎03-23-2009
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Re: Two Families

 

Good summary. Exactly describes what the book is saying to me.


CathyB wrote:

Anna & Stefan have a horrible marriage. She is a battered wife. He is a drunk and an abuser. There is no love there anymore - neither for each other nor for their children. Anna did not want either children - she ignores them.

 

Maria & Teodore have a loving marriage. They are caring individuals. They love all of their children. Maria takes care of both sets of children - and at times, Anna.

 


 

 

Correspondent
floreader
Posts: 95
Registered: ‎09-15-2008

Re: Two Families

Two very different marriages.  Maria and Teodore's marriage is loving and strong.  Anna and Stefan's marriage is abusive and devoid of respect.  Anna treats Lesya like damaged goods since the day she was born and isn't a good mother to either Lesya or Petro.  At least, Maria is almost like a parent to Lesya and Petro, not to mention Anna.  Maria is a steady presence and seems to be the one thing keeping Anna's children from having no childhood.  I don't know if Maria even likes Anna, but just takes over where Anna is lacking.  In my opinion, she does it as a family obligation out of respect for Teodore.
Inspired Contributor
JoyZ
Posts: 47
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Two Families

Two families, two different marriages with their own challenges and experiences.  Yet there are similarities.  I find Anna and Sofia similar in that they both live in a fantasy world, wanting something they can't, or probably won't have.  And, Maria and Lesya are both strong willed, hard workers, pushing against the odds to make it through their struggles.  I'm anxious to find out which ones make it.

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Zeal
Posts: 258
Registered: ‎03-18-2009
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Re: Two Families

If Stefan were completely taken out of the picture, these two families would be one.  In his absence, Anna's family functions as part of Maria and Teodor's family.  Maria assigns all of the children, including Lesya and Petro their chores for the day, and the children obey her, respect her, and love her.  Maria also serves as a surrogate mother for Anna in Anna's inability to take care of herself or her children.  Maria encourages Anna to get out and help in the garden, cleans her up after she finds her clothes filthy, and encourages her to eat, especially after she discovers that Anna is pregnant. 

 

Teodor is a father figure to Petro, as well as his own two sons.  Petro, like Myron and Ivan, looks up to Teodor, even though he longs for his own father.  I believe that he wishes Stefan were more like Teodor. Teodor also takes on all of the responsibilities of the farm and makes sure that his sister's family is fed and taken care of as well as his own.  There is no distinction between the two...they are on in Maria and Teodor's eyes.

 

All of the children function very much as siblings.  There is never any mention of being a cousin.  They work side-by-side, play, fight, and the older children take responsibility for the younger ones when the adults are not present. 

 

With Stefan in the picture, the families are completely opposite.  Anna and her children would be better off if Stefan would just stay away and allow them to assume their rolls as part of Theodor and Maria's family.  One can only hope.  I wonder if Anna or Lesya ever have this thought. 

"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."
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Scribe
DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Two Families

Very true. It was very sad when Teodore moved his family to their new home knowing they were leaving other "members" behind.


Zeal wrote:

If Stefan were completely taken out of the picture, these two families would be one.  In his absence, Anna's family functions as part of Maria and Teodor's family.  Maria assigns all of the children, including Lesya and Petro their chores for the day, and the children obey her, respect her, and love her.  Maria also serves as a surrogate mother for Anna in Anna's inability to take care of herself or her children.  Maria encourages Anna to get out and help in the garden, cleans her up after she finds her clothes filthy, and encourages her to eat, especially after she discovers that Anna is pregnant. 

 

Teodor is a father figure to Petro, as well as his own two sons.  Petro, like Myron and Ivan, looks up to Teodor, even though he longs for his own father.  I believe that he wishes Stefan were more like Teodor. Teodor also takes on all of the responsibilities of the farm and makes sure that his sister's family is fed and taken care of as well as his own.  There is no distinction between the two...they are on in Maria and Teodor's eyes.

 

All of the children function very much as siblings.  There is never any mention of being a cousin.  They work side-by-side, play, fight, and the older children take responsibility for the younger ones when the adults are not present. 

 

With Stefan in the picture, the families are completely opposite.  Anna and her children would be better off if Stefan would just stay away and allow them to assume their rolls as part of Theodor and Maria's family.  One can only hope.  I wonder if Anna or Lesya ever have this thought. 


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Inspired Contributor
Tasses
Posts: 117
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Two Families

You make two good points:

 

1. I also wondered what Anna & Theodor's childhood must have been like and how they formed different ways of coping. Though, I've finished the book and won't spoil it for others... I'll simply ponder that perhaps they aren't so different afterall.

 

2. And I again wondered about Anna and Maria's relationship if it were happening in modern times. It seems we don't have the same responsibiltites to one another as they did back then. We stick people in homes or institutions, whereas in the past, people took care of people. They had no choice. Family was family, not someone we saw once or twice ayear.

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Wordsmith
babzilla41
Posts: 252
Registered: ‎05-04-2009
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Re: Two Families

Although two families they have melded into one, out of necessity and out of love (except for Stefan).  The interesting thing is that Maria and Teodore are beholden to Anna because she "paid" for their parcel of land.  As far as I can tell, Maria and Teodore have more than "paid" her back - they care for not only Anna's children but for Anna as well; they make sure they're fed, they make sure their needs are met - but I have a feeling that once Stefan is back in the picture, the "pay back" will be something entirely different.
"I love books. If I could eat them, I would. I love their scent and often put my nose in to inhale their aroma." - Kathleen Grissom
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Kourt
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Two Families

The two families are very different but also alike. They both are lacking a certain type of love. Anna for some reason can not love her children the motherly way Maria can. Maria can not love her sister in law, niece and nephew the way family should. She has to be a mother type to them. Lesya learns to love Petro from the love that Maria supplies on Anna's negligance. just a thought.....

Wordsmith
marciliogq
Posts: 244
Registered: ‎02-22-2008

Re: Two Families

Two families living and learning how to lead on conflicts . I see them at the same time as antithetic and complementary. Maria and Anna are corageous and strong women. Differently of Anna Maria has a good relaionship to her husband Teodor, even both of the househusbands have problems during their stablishment in the new land. The most shocking scene of this first part was Anna's abuse. Her resistence act cutting her hair off was truly moving. Maria is beloved and respected by her husband and they have a harmonious relationship.

Lesya, Anna's daughter sees Maria and her house more familiar than Anna's. Perhaps Anna's appearent fragility and no reaction can create an atmosphere of fear and unsafety.That can be the reason Stefan shot the coyote, first seen as a threat. In my point of view, killing the animal is the same put far the only chance Anna had of something near her. The only possibility with a strange creature, that not the family.

The girls, Sophia and Lesya have different thoughts about life. Lesya is convinced of her own condition and impossibility of trying another way of life. Perhaps she feels so "unable" as her mother feels when does nothing against Stefan. Sophia is convinced her life is urban and I don't know in what extent her ambition can be good during the story course.

The boys are still a mystery for me. Myron and Ivan want to be all the time near their father, seen as a model of good man.

Teodor's arrival when he comes back from prison and the recognition by himself and the children's is one of the most beatiful partsof the book. Every line of it is a revealed surprise, which is great!

 

Correspondent
DiniB
Posts: 50
Registered: ‎03-20-2009
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Re: Two Families


JoyZ wrote:

Two families, two different marriages with their own challenges and experiences.  Yet there are similarities.  I find Anna and Sofia similar in that they both live in a fantasy world, wanting something they can't, or probably won't have.  And, Maria and Lesya are both strong willed, hard workers, pushing against the odds to make it through their struggles.  I'm anxious to find out which ones make it.


 

Joy - I totally agree.  I thought Anna and Sofia alike.
Goodreads ID: dinib
MYK
Frequent Contributor
MYK
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎03-24-2009

Re: Two Families

Children learn from example. M & T's children have many of their attributes. Anna's children depend so much on Maria and her family. For nurturing and survival. Petro and Lesya know their mother is "not right". They are children. They don't know what to do about that.  They still love, and they hope.

Maria and Teodors marriage is strong. It's good. Anna's marriage is a disaster.

Maria feels for Anna. Anna is so withdrawn. I don't think Maria knows what to do for Anna. They do have a bond. Maria knows Anna's husband is trash. Maria takes care of the kids for Anna. Sometimes, that's what family's do out of love.