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Did Josef know that Minka was Sage's grandmother?

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Hollyn Why did the author not have Josef and Minka meet before they died? Josef knew that Sage's grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, but did he know she was Minka? If so, why didn't he seek forgiveness from her? Only Minka was in a position to truly forgive Josef . . .


message 2: by paula (new)

paula Hollyn wrote: "Why did the author not have Josef and Minka meet before they died? Josef knew that Sage's grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, but did he know she was Minka? If so, why didn't he seek forgiveness ..."

True, she was the only one actually wronged by him, but I never understood why he thought he deserved forgiveness from any actual victim, or why he should get forgiveness, just because he asked for it. Again, to me, this still indicates that he thought of Jews as inferior, and that their horrific experience was not as important as his suffering.


message 3: by paula (new)

paula Yes Gertt, that is what I thought too, exactly. Other readers didn't see it that way, which is what makes discussion so rewarding. This book has provoked much discussion and much food for thought as to the concepts of good and evil and forgiveness, for sure!


Diana Brown Josef knew exactly who Sage's grandmother was. He revealed he knew her Mother, which was a surprise, but the revealing moment was at the end when he asked How did it end? before he died -- making it clear that all he wanted to know was how Minka ended her story...too bad he didnt know she never ended the story. I also feel he never expected Sage to actually end his life.


message 5: by Lena (last edited Aug 19, 2013 12:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lena Although he could have asked Minka to forgive him, and should have, he was afraid she would reveal his true identity to the authorities. Or that was my take on it. I don't think Minka could have forgiven much though--only what he did to her. The book talks several times about how murder cannot be forgiven, because the victim is dead. It seems impossible that he could have avoided killing anyone during the war. None of those victims would be alive to forgive him for those crimes.


Jennifer gertt wrote: "Exactly Paula, Josef knew Minka was alive, if he was truly seeking forgiveness, he would have asked Sage to intercede for him but he never did, he kept the truth from her from the beginning.

Jos..."


I agree. I felt that his request was an attempt at victimizing Sage rather than empowering her. I am still astounded that she permitted herself to become a victim at all. But then again, I think that maybe she finally complied with his request to prevent Minka's life from being defined by her experiences during the War, as Minka herself clearly seemed to not want that to happen.


Jennifer Did anyone else find it perplexing that Josef asked forgiveness for his brother's actions as if they were his own? That struck me as a bit odd. I know that Picoult was trying to drive home Josef's remaining anti-Semitism by showing that he believed Jews to be interchangeable. She succeeded in that. I still, however, find it odd that Josef would seek forgiveness for the actions of another person. In this case his brother.


Jennifer Diana wrote: "Josef knew exactly who Sage's grandmother was. He revealed he knew her Mother, which was a surprise, but the revealing moment was at the end when he asked How did it end? before he died -- making ..."

Diana,

I completely agree. He knew and how sadistic of him to force his way into her life on false pretenses.


Jennifer gertt wrote: "Exactly Paula, Josef knew Minka was alive, if he was truly seeking forgiveness, he would have asked Sage to intercede for him but he never did, he kept the truth from her from the beginning.

Jos..."


You don't wait until the end of your life to ask for forgiveness. I think that he was simply manipulating her and targeting a young person of Jewish background for victimization in the process. What bothers me is that in the end, he succeeded. He got what he wanted and at a time when she should have been starting her life afresh, she did something that she will have to hide for the rest of her life.


message 10: by Jennifer (last edited Aug 19, 2013 09:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer gertt wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "at a time when she should have been starting her life afresh, she did something that she will have to hide for the rest of her life. ..."

This bothered me the most. Sage was star..."


Yeah so it turned out to be not much of a new beginning for Sage after all. What's kind of ironic is that the story that ultimately saved Minka's life during the holocaust was the ultimate undoing of her granddaughter's. Sage will always have to look over her shoulder. You can never undo the taking of another person's life, however horrible that person may have been.


Claude gertt wrote: "Josef made his own choices...not all German soldiers were SS Officers. Josef choose murdering innocent Jewish civilians over fighting on the front lines...regardless of whether he murdered them wi..."

Lena wrote: "Although he could have asked Minka to forgive him, and should have, he was afraid she would reveal his true identity to the authorities. Or that was my take on it. I don't think Minka could have fo..."

gertt wrote: "Josef made his own choices...not all German soldiers were SS Officers. Josef choose murdering innocent Jewish civilians over fighting on the front lines...regardless of whether he murdered them wi..."

I agree and you expressed my feelings exactly


Angela Wow. There are so many different ways to think about this book. One of the things I love about Picoult's books. Throughout the story, I got the impression that Franz was never easy with his role in the war. He didn't want to participate in the youth events with his brother. He wasn't a mean person. But by hearing Reiner's story about how easy it was to become a monster, you knew that some of that also happened to Franz. Sometimes it's easier to go along with society than to buck it. Plus, at that time, for some Germans it too was a way of surviving. They truly felt that if you weren't with us, then you were against us. Having a brother in the SS made it even more difficult for Franz to remain true to his peaceful nature. These kids were even instructed to turn in anyone who was a traitor to their country. Franz likely joined out of self preservation.

He did his best even while serving in the SS to make the best of a bad situation. No, he couldn't help all the prisoners, but he could select a few to protect as best he could. By doing so, he was in direct violation of the orders of his job and the pressures of his peers, including his brother. It is because of Franz, that the grandmother even survived. Without his protection and actions, she too would have been sent to the showers.

Even still, his involvement was inexcusable and unforgivable. He knew this and suspected that Minka would feel the same. While he was brave enough to take small actions to keep her safe, he was not brave enough to face her or the criminal courts at the end of his life.

Given Franz's nature as told when they were kids, he did things that he could no longer live with. He killed his own brother. But he also regretted that he didn't do so sooner. He loved his brother, but he hated him as well. He knew his brother was evil and in the end, he killed him. But by killing his brother after his brother had already done such evil could not erase what his brother had done. And it was because of his brother that he himself got dragged into the SS. The dynamics presented here are so deep.

Franz took his brother's story as his own because he wanted to die for the things that he himself did. But if he had told his own story, Sage may not have been able to kill him. He did save her grandmother after all. He felt responsible for the actions of his brother, so he took responsibility for them. But even so, he could not face Minka. Maybe he did it to protect her from the direct contact with her memories. He protected her so many times, maybe this was yet another.

I was a bit shocked though by Sage's final actions.


Marianne Angela wrote: "Wow. There are so many different ways to think about this book. One of the things I love about Picoult's books. Throughout the story, I got the impression that Franz was never easy with his role in..."
Very well put. Yes, Sage's action at the end floored me too.


Cheryl Ballard I suppose only Jodi can answer why she choose not to have Minka and Josef meet. Maybe she thought it would have been just too perfect and had to leave a few loose ends for us to ponder.


message 15: by Agne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Agne Jennifer wrote: "gertt wrote: "Exactly Paula, Josef knew Minka was alive, if he was truly seeking forgiveness, he would have asked Sage to intercede for him but he never did, he kept the truth from her from the beg..."

Josef def knew exactly who Sage's grandmother was. He revealed it when he asked "How did it end?" before he died.

I think he didn't attempt to meet Minka because when he had mentioned Sage's grandmother, he had used the past tense. I think, he assumed that she had died after she left the camp. Also, since Sage's mother had died she, Sage, was the closest thing to provide forgiveness, but most importantly the ending to the story.

As for Sage's actions at the end. I was expecting her to help him die but with every step I was hoping that she wouldn't do it. I was very disappointed.


message 16: by Agne (new) - rated it 4 stars

Agne gertt wrote: "Agne wrote: "As for Sage's actions at the end. I was expecting her to help him die but with every step I was hoping that she wouldn't do it. I was very disappointed. ..."

I was disappointed too, f..."

The lies def made it worse, especially after she had opened up to him before and talked not only about her scars but also shared her grandmother's story with him.


Susanna Angela wrote: "Wow. There are so many different ways to think about this book. One of the things I love about Picoult's books. Throughout the story, I got the impression that Franz was never easy with his role in..."

My thoughts exactly.

I'd like to know how on earth Josef ended up in the same area as Minka in the USA. I couldn't buy it.


Minty McBunny Susana wrote: I'd like to know how on earth Josef ended up in the same area as Minka in the USA. I couldn't buy it.

I liked the book, but that was my biggest issue. It couldn't have been coincidence but I also don't believe he could have traced her after the war. He didn't even know her last name!


Minty McBunny gertt wrote: "He obviously knew more then was realized because not only did he find Minka, he found and befriended her daughter and her granddaughter.

Yes but to me that strained the limits of credulity. The records were very poor after the war for refugees, even if he knew her first and last name, how would he have tracked her down in the US, especially if she married in Sweden and came to the states under a different name? That was really my biggest quibble with the plot of the book, families who knew many more details about each other than he could have possibly known about Minka struggled to find each other after the war, I find it hard to believe he could have realistically tracked her down.


message 20: by Nea (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nea Hollyn wrote: "Why did the author not have Josef and Minka meet before they died? Josef knew that Sage's grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, but did he know she was Minka? If so, why didn't he seek forgiveness ..."

I think Josef didn't go to Minka because she would know who his identity and he was pretending to be his brother. It seemed to me that he may have had feelings for Minka and maybe he just didn't want to force his presence on her. He also didn't really want forgiveness for all the things that he said he did because he didn't even do them. What he wanted was to be killed and put out of his misery. Sage could be fooled into believe he was as horrible as is brother and she could take the revenge that Josef must've believed was deserved.


Roice Tayag Nea wrote: "Hollyn wrote: "Why did the author not have Josef and Minka meet before they died? Josef knew that Sage's grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, but did he know she was Minka? If so, why didn't he se..."

Exactly my thoughts about it.


message 22: by Lu (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lu Just read the Storyteller and loved it. Agree that Josef definitely knew that Minka lived nearby and he knew that she was Sage's grandma. It's apparent when he asked how the story ends... I don't think he thought that Sage would really kill him though... I couldn't believe that she did, but then I started thinking about the parallels between Aleks / Ania relationship Josef / Sage... It occured to me that Ania brought poisoned pastry to Aleks because she couldn't stand him suffer any longer and wanted to ease the pain. Isn't the same what Sage did for Josef?? She told Leo at the end that she didn't feel right somehow for Josef go go through the trials because she saw him as a very old fragile man evethough he did horrendous things during his life. Did she simply wanted to spare him the agony of lengthy horrible trial??


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