Considering Elsie’s true feelings for Josef, why does she take his gifts, accompany him to the ball, accept his proposal and wear his ring? Do her circumstances make her betrayal right?
Join Date: 10/15/10
Join Date: 04/21/11
I feel she actually didn't betray Joseph; she was more disloyal to the situation. Joseph had just as much of an agenda as she in his wanting of this relationship.
Elsie was not only impressed with the attention of an older man and his authority but also the strength of his persistent urging that they marry. Her future was rather bleak at that time.
Join Date: 01/16/12
As a young girl with little or no experience, I don't think Elsie knew how to handle the situation. She was not happy accepting Joseph's invitation or his ring, but didn't know how to say no to him. She was fortunate that he went off without her having to make any real commitment to him and all the while questioned how she was going to get out of any future with him
Join Date: 09/08/12
I think that Elsie was far too young to really know what to do with Josef. He was a family friend and of course she had no idea why he had chosen to insert himself as he had into her family. Her parents favored him so his asking her to the ball was seen as advantageous esp. as her father was very pro Nazi. Josef was attractive, if older, and to a degree I think Elsie felt somewhat impressed to be asked. It all went downhill when Tobias was brought out and then Josef gave her that ring. The assault by Kremer was bad enough but seeing the inscription on the ring was worse. She knew then that Josef was not for her but unsure how to get out of it. As young as she was I felt that Elsie was a very strong person and it carried her through the war and what came after.
Join Date: 11/28/11
Elsie was a victim of the times. She was a young lady who had to listen to her parents and do what was best for her family. She was naive and had no one to talk to about Josef. The only guidance was from her parents so she was conflicted.Josef had his own agenda and was controlling the situation between her and her family. I thought she handled herself with as much dignity and class as she could with what was going on at the time.
Join Date: 03/05/12
I don't think of it as a betrayal. She is young. She is relatively powerless. She loves her family. How true can someone be to themselves in the context of war and inequity? I felt she was brave, brave to even entertain feelings for him and brave to acknowledge the lack thereof. Survival comes first. Fortunately we live in times, at least in this country, where that is not our primary motivation. But when it is, I often wonder, what would my character be if my family was at stake, if it was literally a life and death situation?
Join Date: 09/08/12
I totally agree with sahahh. I have not walked in her shoes, I have not experienced that kind of war situation in my country, so I do not know how I would react. The fact of her age and her parents urging, it would be very hard. I feel she gave marrige more thought than many people do today, and they do not have the kind of stressful situation that Elsie had.
Join Date: 09/01/11
Most of us have no idea of what true fear can make us do. Even though Elsie was very young she realized that in order to survive her family needed the help that Josef could give. I suppose it's doing something for the greater good, even if you know the help is not good. In saving Tobias she was showing her totally human side. That part of most of us that will just do something because it is simply the right thing to do.
Join Date: 07/28/11
Join Date: 06/16/11
I think Elsie was a remarkable young women and was doing the best she could in the horrible circumstances. She was a dutiful daughter and hard working and yet young enough to be very impressionable. Looking out for the welfare of her family and enjoying some of the benefits that Josef offered was not surprising but she was at heart a realist and knew that Josef really was not the man for her. As we were aware he also had an agenda and was not a truly honorable man. His situation was as precarious as hers but he chose to tow the party line to save himself always and Elsie over and over chose to the right thing at much risk. She certainly deserved better than him and I was so pleased that she was given the opportunity to do much better.
Join Date: 06/13/11
Remember Elsie's age. She was caught in something that she didn't know how to get out of and which her parents were pushing. She also felt that Josef was protecting her family, especially after she hid Tobias. I think her biggest decision at the time was to hide Tobias, partially because he saved her and her own humanity. Of course then one faces the question of her willingness to reveal him thinking it would save her nephew. Was family then most important to her?
Join Date: 05/12/11
Join Date: 03/09/12
Elsie of course was the baker's daughter and the primary character in the book. For a young woman, she had a lot going on in her life and I thought she was extremely brave in her choosing to help Tobias. There were a lot of other characters in the book with their own stories. The back and forth stories were a bit confusing to me at first.
Join Date: 09/15/12
I agree with the comments made about Elsie's young age contributing to her complicated relationship with Josef, whom she obviously did not love. She was initially thoroughly indoctrinated into loyalty to the Nazi party. She was proud of her sister, who was having children for the Nazis. She signed her letters with the closing "Heil Hitler," as was the custom. Hazel did the same until the birth of her twins and her fear for "the boy." After that point, Hazel no longer used it, though Elsie still did.
What I feel was very profound was Elsie's hiding Tobias, despite her possibly parroted opinion of Jews. There were some incidents of sadness at the disappearance of Jewish neighbors, but the fear instilled by the Nazis in the hatred of the Jews and their supporters was overwhelming. In spite of her extreme trepidation about getting caught and jeopardizing her entire family, she could not turn away Tobias and soon loved him. She knew she was endangering her family by hiding him, which is in juxtaposition to her fear of alienating Josef because he helped her family.
Elsie was an intriguing, well developed character. I thoroughly enjoyed the two story lines and learning about the rest of her life.
Join Date: 04/15/12
Elsie seemed very real to me. She had diverse emotions like ordinary people do. To me, she was the focus of the book even when she was not there. That is the mark of a well drawn character. Unfortunately, I did not feel the same way about Reba who, at times, seemed two dimensional
Join Date: 10/19/10
Elsie is a young, unsophisticated, girl who is flattered by a young officer's attraction and the opportunity to enter "society". Her awareness and maturity are interesting to watch. I found this such a wonderful part of the story. To me, it illustrated the actions of many "good" Germans who risked their lives to do the right thing. There were many, and she illustrates that portion of the community who recognized the horror and worked to save their fellow countrymen.
Join Date: 09/13/12
I found Elsie's character to be totally fascinating. We know the history of WWII. But to be able to peer into an ordinary German's life and try to truly comprehend her day to day survival was illuminating. To watch as they made every little item count---baking ingredients, fabric, scraps of paper, wood etc.---certainly illustrates the excess we have in present day and our dissatisfaction (through Reba's eyes). Elsie's family was so very proud of her attending the ball. She had the beautiful dress Josef had given to her, however, she worried about the old shoes. She then honestly describes the scene at the ball and the "feast". Her encounter with Kremer and Tobias in the alley was chilling in that two lives could have been taken without a second thought on Kremer's part. The contrast with living up to her parents' expectations of the evening and what really happened to her. To read about a young German girl possessing such strength and courage made me want to know more about her adapting to life in America---what problems did Elsie face and overcome---how difficult was it for her? I would have preferred to read about those "lost years" than trudge through Reba's story.
Join Date: 09/08/12
I agree with many of the others in that I would like to have heard more about her transition to the US via Texas. I feel it probably had to be very difficult to be a German in America shortly after the war. Probably similar to Iranians and Iraqi's after 911. Although, other than their accent there usually are not many physical features that say German, but her accent would be hard to cover.
Join Date: 08/04/11
I loved the book and I loved Elsie for who she was. She showed so much compassion when hiding Tobias. She was putting her whole family at risk. Her relationship with Joseph was wrong right from the get go. And the act of giving her an engagement ring that had been worn by a Jewish woman who had been in the camps was preposterous. What could that ring mean to Elsie? A second-hand ring that belonged to a victim of the camps.i was so glad she never married him. She deserved so much more than he could give her.
Join Date: 04/15/11
Join Date: 10/14/11
I can only say "ditto" to the comments above. Elsie was so young; the situation was beyond horrible. Although Josef would have seen the "betrayal", the readers of this story do not. Elsie was caught doing the only thing she could do in reference to Josef and her family. Where she stepped up and showed her real character was in the saving of Tobias. This story seemed very real and totally believable. I cared for the characters - each and every one - even Josef - he too was caught by this war and suffered greatly.
Join Date: 05/10/12
I agree with the fact that Elsie was young and unsure of how to handle the relationship. She was however impressed with the Nazi party early on in the book. She was excited to go to the dance. Her sister was looked upon as a hero doing her part for the Nazi party and Elsie was unsure of herself at the onset of the story. It is only after she is at the party that she sees things more clearly. She is unsure of how to handle the ugly things she saw and experienced at the dance. Like many people she just stumbled along hoping she could find her way.
Join Date: 05/13/11
I think that Elsie accepted Josef's attentions for several reasons: loyalty to her family, the excitement of being a part of what she viewed at first as a glamorous world, and her natural feeling as a young girl of liking the attention of a handsome, important man. But she was smart and intuitive and began to put things together, once she realized Josef's position. She used her relationship with Josef to help Tobias and herself, but I don't blame her for that - it was a dangerous time, and I think she realized just how things were.
Please login to post a response.