Magdalena
Magdalena asked:

Animals seem to be a constant on this book, sometimes they're crucial to the development of Ursula's life. The rabbits, foxes and dogs in Fox (FOX!) Corner keep dying and living as Ursula does. Also, many many times characters are compared to certain animals, or called after them. My question is why this insistance on animals? Why is this important for Atkinson?

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Laia
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Pippa Thomson Atkinson may have included animals to such a high extent because she herself may like animals. There is a line in the book where Ursula thinks to herself that everyone in her family attributed emotions to dogs, except Maurice. Do you think it is possible that Atkinson is simply an animal lover and trying to attribute the love of animals, dogs in particular, to the merit in some of her characters. She also further singles out Maurice as an even worse moral compass. Being an absolute dog lover I could see how Atkinson was making sure a dog was always present in the Todd's lives. They were always part of the family.

As for Ms Woolf, it seems as though she has been given the name to juxtaposition this character against Hitler. In the 'Authors Note' she say that Ms Woolf is the "moral compass" of the book which is why she is placed at its epicentre during the Blitz years. Atkinson writes the Ursula "transforms" into Ms Woolf. It also brings to question that, without human interference, would the earth be so full of danger, hate and awful suffering. Is it a primarily human response to feel emotions, and if so how can such atrocities be committed.
Samantha The frequent animal motifs and symbolism piqued my interest as well. At one point Atkinson writes that foxes are both hunters and the hunted. I think this adds to the overall circulatory idea of the book. Like the fox, at times Ursula is a hunter, making decisions and deciding her own fate. And other times she is hunted and falls prey to destiny.

I kept thinking that the naming of the family home of "Fox Corner" had to have some symbolism that I wasn't picking up on.

As for Sylvie choosing the name Ursula, or "Little Bear", that made me think of a protective, Mama Bear symbol. Ursula makes it her goal to protect her family, protect Nancy, protect the entire world from Hitler's destruction. She is a courageous and fierce mother bear protecting those that she loves.

Dogs are also clearly important to Atkinson, but again, I don't feel that I fully grasped what she was trying to convey with them.
Melanie great thoughts, laia. and ursula's name means "little bear" and the "big bear" is often Russia, which is important in at least two of her lives.
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