With only two of us participating through this first part, Nicole and I have decided to go at a slightly accelerated pace; whatever pace we read the book. I have an idea for how I want to change my Read-Along series in the future so stay tuned for some developments there. But for now, let’s dive in to the first section!
Questions from Nicole: We notice that Tereza’s mother is very open with her sexuality and her “nakedness” when Tereza is a child. Her mother walks around naked and even when Tereza is inclined to protect her mother and her dignity she is laughed at. Now as an adult, Tereza recalls when her mother would say that the female body is replicated and identical to other women’s bodies. How do they view relationships and love differently? Are they similar or vastly different? How do you suppose that Tereza overcomes her need to protect her dignity? Tomas seems to see no difference in the fact that he adores no woman more or less based on their bodies – but uses sex as his way of showing he adores them. Does this make things more difficult for a true love to blossom between Tereza and Tomas?
Tereza’s mother sees herself as no different from any other woman. I think this idea stems from her relationship with her husband; she’s his wife but there are many lovers. Her body is no different to him as the other women he is intimate with. She’s one of many and has (sadly) accepted this. Tereza refuses to accept she’s a clone of the other women Tomas loves. She fervently wants to believe that there’s something special about her that makes her better than all the others. I think Tereza believes that her modesty is something that sets her apart. She believes that if a man loves her, he’ll spend time getting to know her before he sees her nakedness and will love her despite it. Tomas shares the same mentality about woman’s bodies as Tereza’s mother which makes it hard for Tereza to see herself as special to him. He separates love and sex in his mind but to Tereza they are the same. I see this as the main problem in their relationship.
Also from Nicole: I found the theory/idea of chance happenings to be very interesting. The “chance happenings” seem to be more of a reflection on their actions leading them up to a certain point. This seems to be a very romantic approach to the storyline and a very modern idea/theory. How do you feel about the approach of the story being written as a theory? Is it realistic or a struggle for you to accept this story line as real or do you feel of it as more of a fictitious piece (regardless that this story is considered a fiction novel)? In other words, the majority of this story is based on theory and chance-happening for it to work, does this make it seem more real or less real?
I think all of life is a series of chance happenings. My parents happened to buy a house that’s down the street from the church where I went one day where my husband happened to be because his family happened to move to Michigan because his dad happened to have gotten a job in the area. As it happens both needed someone to hang out with the summer after Freshman year and choose each other. There are so many points along the way where something could have been different or never have happened at all, but the fact is that it all went the way it did and it’s the only way I got to where I am. The fact that Tereza thinks about this is a little different from my experiences with other novels, but it doesn’t detract from the plot for me. The chance happenings are believable and I don’t think the author is taking liberties to force the plot in any way.
And finally, here’s the musing topic that I choose for this week: Tereza seems to have accepted Tomas even though she knows he is flawed. She wants to be his wife but knows he will be unfaithful. What are some things in your life that you’ve accepted even though they are flawed?
There are a lot of easy answers to this one. My second-hand furniture, my family, etc. But I think the one thing I find hardest to accept the flaws in is myself. I have very high standards for myself and it’s hard for me to accept when I don’t hit those standards. I’ll have people say to me that I’m involved in too much but when I find myself with free time, I start thinking of other things I could be doing to fill it. When I find something new (my latest has been grad school), I give myself a goal (4.0 GPA) and push myself to achieve it. I’ll stress and worry about it and if I fall short, it’s hard for me to get over it. Like Tereza, I have to realize that there’s a lot good with myself and even though there are flaws (like a 3.8 in one class) the overall picture is pretty great.
If you’re interested in joining us in the read-along, it’s never too late! Send me an email and let me know. We’d love to have you.
Until next time, write on.