The Bronze Horseman discussion

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Cold, Starving and Desperate

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message 1: by Alycia (new)

Alycia | 549 comments Mod
I have been thinking of the Leningrad winters this winter. Trying to think and understand how cold winters were in The Bronze Horseman. How hard it would have been to starve, suffer through the cold and become so desperate to feed yourself and your family. Was anyone else really affected by these descriptions?


message 2: by Kelly (last edited Mar 05, 2010 12:43PM) (new)

Kelly  | 637 comments Oh Marina licking the wall paper glue off the wall. Tatiana picking up the sawdust off the floor of the truck and eating it. When Alexander tells her not to eat it. I am so ashamed for her.

The starvation actually strips them of their humanity.


message 3: by Alycia (new)

Alycia | 549 comments Mod
I agree they are definitely animalistic in their desperation. The eating of the wallpaper paste because there is flour in it was the worst. Also, neighbors constantly begging for food secretly to Tatiana.

I am cold by nature. I don't think I could have survived the cold winters in a home where there is not enough heat. It amazes me that anyone could have survived this.

I have to commend PS's writing. She gives such good descriptions without overloading the reader to make you feel the hunger and cold. And gives the problems the citizens faced a real definitive human voice.


message 4: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  | 637 comments Alycia wrote: "I agree they are definitely animalistic in their desperation. The eating of the wallpaper paste because there is flour in it was the worst. Also, neighbors constantly begging for food secretly to T..."

Oh I know Paullina writing of this is amazing. I get so damn grumpy when I am hungry I can't fathom what it would be like to live with a bunch of very hungry people.
I do remember Tatiana saying something about it is when you are not hungry anymore then you have a problem.
I HATE the cold also. We have a family home in the White Mountains and everyone can't understand why we don't ski and go up more in the winter. I just don't want to be cold. It is depressing and once I get that chill I can't shake it.


message 5: by ChristinaRae (new)

ChristinaRae | 163 comments Mod
I look at models in ads now and think: would someone who survived a war or famine think ribs and bony hips were all that? Or would it be grossly offensive?
I eat my (wonderful, fatty, carbolicious, high-protein) food with thanks!
I like this quote from Tatiana's Table, talking about how she is always baking (in the US):

". . .Tatiana baked happily for them all, never denying them, for she always remembered the days she spent on her hands and knees on the floor, licking the crumbs of the old stale oat flour out of a canvas bag, and wishing not for for crumb cake or croissants but for no one in her family to come into the hallway because then she would have to share the scraps."


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

This whole book tore me to pieces .. it made me so emotional .. i dont no muh about histroy and the war and this book really opening my eyes ..
this book .. is a masterpiece ..


message 7: by EvaS (new)

EvaS (evikes) I have to admit that this is one of the reasons I have been reluctant to read this book.... that, and I am in the midst of the Outlander series :^)
I grew up in Romania during the height of communism. The food in stores was rationed by the govmnt, and we either grew it, or bought it from local farmers... but there is only so much to go around. Most food stores were literally bare all the time except for the 3 days when the rations were handed out… and chaos reigned. People fought in the street for loaves of bread and bought 'mystery' meat from strangers in the back of trucks. Times were very hard, and I recall moments in my childhood when the lack of food was an issue. Never to the extreme that I am reading here, but I know my parents went to bed hungry MANY times in order to feed the kids. My mom recalls the times when she had only dry bread, a piece of sausage, and an apple to pack for my lunch... and that was on a good day.
I suppose, as a parent, I am reluctant to think of that and to somehow identify on some level with these characters. I think it would break my heart.


message 8: by Alycia (new)

Alycia | 549 comments Mod
I do hope you read it at some point, because it is such a beautiful, but emotional book. I definitely cared for the characters more because I was feeling their pain so to speak. Eva, I cannot imagine going through that, I mean I can, but I will never fully understand unless I go through it myself. Your parents are inspirational because they sacrificed for the sake of their children.


message 9: by Diane (new)

Diane (LadyDi4476) | 107 comments Wow that quote from Tatiana's Table is so heart wrenching! I cannot fathom a hunger and cold like that. Where one would stoop to such desperate measures. How horrid.


message 10: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda Krieger (BigR) | 44 comments I'm sure if not ourselves or our children our grandchildren will live to see simular circumstances.There will one day be a food shortage and clean water will be a luxury.I'm tempted to tell my own kids not to have kids, unless they are certain that this planet has turned around.So sad that those thought's even enter my mind


message 11: by ChristinaRae (new)

ChristinaRae | 163 comments Mod
I have also been thinking that 50's-esque housewife-ism doesn't seem so wierd now, when I consider that that generation went through first the Great Depression and then WWII, then had the Cold War hanging over their heads.
What do you guys think?


message 12: by Mishelle (new)

Mishelle LaBrash (mishalabrash) ChristinaRae wrote: "I have also been thinking that 50's-esque housewife-ism doesn't seem so wierd now, when I consider that that generation went through first the Great Depression and then WWII, then had the Cold War ..."

I've always liked the 50-esque housewife thing, to be honest. If I could afford it, I would be staying home, rearing children, cooking home cooked everything, and donning my husbands socks... with minimal bitching... ;)... (I would never fall into the category of sweet, docile and obedient, however)


message 13: by ChristinaRae (new)

ChristinaRae | 163 comments Mod
50's-esque housewife is pretty much my job description, so I wasn't knocking it. :)

I just feel like it is generally not looked on as viable or fufilling lifestyle choice for women, or that women who were that were naive (I thought so as a teen/20 something).
But when I consider going through something like war or having your husband be upside down because of traumatic experiences, I feel like I would be RUNNING to do nothing other than take care of my family. It seems like the perfectly logical conclusion to decades of social upheaval.


message 14: by ChristinaRae (new)

ChristinaRae | 163 comments Mod
Does anyone else think being a housewife is not valued by society? Or am I just insecure?


message 15: by Alycia (new)

Alycia | 549 comments Mod
ChristinaRae wrote: "Does anyone else think being a housewife is not valued by society? Or am I just insecure?"

I agree with you that it is not valued by society. It is certainly not the norm now. I think that is part of it. I think since so many families have to have two incomes in this day and age, being a housewife is a privilege as well.


message 16: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  | 637 comments ChristinaRae wrote: "Does anyone else think being a housewife is not valued by society? Or am I just insecure?"

I am a stay at home mom and I LOVE it. I would not say I am a housewife.

I refer to it as a stay at home Mom because I don't really feel like a housewife. I don't always cook. LOVE takeout. I do clean but I never feel like it is my duty. My husband does the dishes,the trash,his laundry and NEVER complains. His mantra is "who has it better than Kelly?" hehe

I play tennis, go to the gym, spend time with my girlfriends ,taxi the children around, Lead Girl Scout troops, volunteer at schools, and read, read, read. While enjoying and appreciating this life I have.

I worked for 10 years prior to staying home so I have been lucky to have experienced both.

I am home to raise 3 wonderful children and see them off into the world.


message 17: by Alycia (new)

Alycia | 549 comments Mod
My husband has a great job, and always had good opportunities. I do not have to work at all, but choose to because I enjoy my job as a preschool teacher. My hours do not add up to full time, I only work part time. When we do start having children I will be a stay at home mother as well. I think I am really lucky to have that option. Like you Kelly, I will have many years working under my belt when once I do have children.


message 18: by Carla (new)

Carla  (carlaann13) I definitely do not feel that being a housewife or stay at home Mom is undervalued in society. Raising children is the most important job and at times the most difficult thing to do. It is actually the person as the individual who needs to make tbe decision that she can be fulfilled doing so. As the mother of three I have worked full time and I currently work pt. When I did work ft I longed to be the one changing diapers etc. When working ft I also really appreciated and respected the moms who got involved in the schools,helped with car pools and picked up for those of us who could not be there. Most of these moms were well educated and in a great place mentally and chose to be a Mom 24/7 and I applaud them.


message 19: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  | 637 comments Cab wrote: "I definitely do not feel that being a housewife or stay at home Mom is undervalued in society. Raising children is the most important job and at times the most difficult thing to do. It is actually..."

:-) I do however Love to fix my husbands plate first. I wait at the door when he comes home from work for a big hug and kiss. I also just love to make him happy. In this I find I am like Tatiana. Now if I could just do this for Alexander too. lol!


message 20: by Leea (new)

Leea | 317 comments ChristinaRae wrote: "Does anyone else think being a housewife is not valued by society? Or am I just insecure?"

No society does not value stay at home moms... at all. For our family we have decided to live a simpler life but stay together. It's not easy but a choice... People think that i'm sitting at home eating ice cream but i tell them i'm molding young minds here... My boys will have manners and will treat people with respect. If it's my last dying breath :)


message 21: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 4 comments ChristinaRae wrote: "I have also been thinking that 50's-esque housewife-ism doesn't seem so wierd now, when I consider that that generation went through first the Great Depression and then WWII, then had the Cold War ..."

ChristinaRae, you made me look at the 1950's housewife in a different light. It does make a bit more sense when you take those things into account. I definitely think being a stay-at-home-mom is highly undervalued in our society. I am currently a SAHM, which is funny because I was career oriented and so disdainful of it when I was a younger woman. Once I was pregnant, I saw things from a new perspective. I love being home to read, sing, dance, play, and cuddle. I really love cooking and nourishing my family with healthy and delicious meals. Now cleaning on the other hand...not my strong suit. I have many other talents to make up for it, haha! ;) We have scaled back our lifestyle and are much happier for it.

2nd Topic- The descriptions of the Leningrad winters and the food deprivation were painful to read and I thought about it nonstop. I told my husband often that I was so thankful for our family, our life and all that we have. I know he wondered what was going on with me. It really made me appreciate my nice warm house, safe living conditions, and the food in the fridge. Its good to be reminded sometimes.


message 22: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  | 637 comments Melissa wrote: "ChristinaRae wrote: "I have also been thinking that 50's-esque housewife-ism doesn't seem so wierd now, when I consider that that generation went through first the Great Depression and then WWII, t..."

I hear you Melissa on the cleaning. I had to give up my housekeeper when I decided to stay home. Toilet bowls eeewwwww...... With a little boy ...... Somedays going back to work looks really good. lol....


message 23: by Linda (new)

Linda C | 30 comments I think that "society" (whoever or whatever that is... LOL) has mixed feelings on stay-at-home moms, depending upon the socioeconomic bracket of the mom in question. If the SAM is highly educated, stays home by choice, lives in a nice house, goes to the gym, does all the volunteer things that make our schools and our kids events work, etc., then her role is viewed very positively.

If, on the other hand, the mom in question is none of the above, but rather is raising her children on government money, then the standard response is "Why doesn't she get a job?"

Which leads to the real question-- if two moms are doing the same job, why is one revered and the other frowned upon?

For the rest of us, we fall somewhere in the middle-- working both because we want to and because there is some need to.

Since my kids are older, I think, than most of yours, I can say that either way is fine. Your kids will be fine (or not) if you work; they will be fine (or not) if you stay home. There are good parents and there are bad parents; working versus not working is really irrelevant, I think, in how kids turn out at the end of the day.

When I was growing up, my mom worked because she wanted to, which was a rare thing circa 1970. For me, it was always important to be able to support myself and my children IF I had to. And, I liked my job and didn't want to give it up. Eventually, I made more $$ than my husband, but he liked his job too, and didn't want to give it up, so there you have it... whatever you decide is fine in the end.


message 24: by Kelly (new)

Kelly  | 637 comments Linda wrote: "I think that "society" (whoever or whatever that is... LOL) has mixed feelings on stay-at-home moms, depending upon the socioeconomic bracket of the mom in question. If the SAM is highly educated,..."

Great thoughts Linda :-)


message 25: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 4 comments Kelly wrote: "Linda wrote: "I think that "society" (whoever or whatever that is... LOL) has mixed feelings on stay-at-home moms, depending upon the socioeconomic bracket of the mom in question. If the SAM is hi..."

Believe me Linda, there is no judgement on my part if you are a work outside the home mom. I think we all have to do what is best for our families and what keeps us sane. I'm looking into going back to work PT, because of the sanity factor and because it would be nice to have the extra money. I just laugh now when I think back on how I thought it would be "so easy" to be a SAHM. And I have to admit I bristle when some people make comments like, "must be nice to sit at home all day". Haha! I guess that is where I feel the under appreciation is. I don't belittle other parents who go to work, so I don't appreciate people belittling my work. People who have ever had small children, know there is no sitting down! I am always teaching, playing, cooking, cleaning, running
errands, and we are always on the
go. There are things I love about it
and things I don't. Being a mom is not easy no matter if you work in the home or outside the home. All moms deserve a pat on the back because we do a h*ll of a job! :)


message 26: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 4 comments On the food deprivation vein, I know this is an unrelated book, but I just got done reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The book had a lot of the same themes- starvation and desperation and people doing horrid things to survive. Whenever I read books like that, it gets my mind turning-what would I do in that situation? I would never treat people like that, right? I would never lose my humanity and respect for others even in dire conditions, right? But, the scary part is we just never know. Every one of us is capable of horrible acts or honorable acts. I like to think I would act honorably. Like Tatiana did when she picked up the family's rations, and not like her cousin Marina did when she ate half of everyone's rations. Those are the things that run through my head...


message 27: by Linda (new)

Linda C | 30 comments Melissa wrote: "On the food deprivation vein, I know this is an unrelated book, but I just got done reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The book had a lot of the same themes- starvation and ..."

I have always wondered that as well, in particular, if I had grown up in occupied France, or Holland, etc. I would like to think that I would have been in the underground, but in reality... probably not. I don't think (at least I hope not!) that I would have been an active collaborator, but I think, most likely, I would have been simply like most of the population-- head down, cooperate with the Nazis, go about my daily life and try to survive.


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