Though generations apart, Elsie and Reba are both empowered women. How does this manifest in Elsie’s story? In Reba’s? How does McCoy depict gender roles?
Join Date: 10/15/10
Join Date: 03/06/12
I found it fascinating and terrible at the same time to learn about The Liebensborn Program. The women were baby machines with no thought to them as human beings or mothers. Then again, the whole Nazi philosophy was to reproduce the Aryan race so these women felt they were doing their part for the cause.
Join Date: 06/16/11
I think that McCoy did an excellent job of portraying the best and the worst of what the gender roles are.
We have Elsie's life in the war time as the picture of the traditional roles applied to women and men and saw how that was so unfair so often for Elsie, her sister, and her mother. In Reba's parents marriage we saw the same traditional roles which she grew up with and which caused much mental conflict for her. Both Elsie and Reba did try to assert themselves as they got more mature. Elsie with the very brave protecting of Tobias and the rejection of Josef allowed her to bravely move forward even so far as having the abortion and leaving her country. Reba's reaction to her mother's perceived martyrdom was to reject her mother on many levels and to design herself a career path that would keep her independent and strong. When, in fact, she chose the job in Calif over staying with Rikki she was showing her strength she thought. Thankfully she figured out she did not really have to be quite so independent if she wanted a little happiness too. Elsie also took on a rather traditional Wife/Mother role but was able to still be herself and do what she loved in her on store.
Join Date: 04/10/11
I think it is very interesting how McCoy showed the emotional side of both Josef and Riki. Josef fell apart after the attack on the Jewish family that led to his killing of the soldier, and he later tried to make up for it by becoming part of Elsie's family. Riki could no longer reconcile himself to the actions he was forced to take against the illegal immigrants--especially after his job led to the death of an innocent boy--and he ultimately changed jobs because of those emotions.
Elsie did not set out to rescue Tobias, but she found the strength to carry on concealing him. Later she had no apparent hesitation to marry a man she did not know well and move to another country and culture. She certainly made a wonderful life for herself and her daughter.
Reba was empowered to allow herself to be more vulnerable and show her true self instead of taking on characteristics that she thought others wanted to see in her. She ended up with a satisfying relationship with Riki and a life she enjoyed.
Join Date: 04/15/11
Join Date: 10/14/11
Empowered? That word doesn't fit Elsie & Reba for me. Looked it up & found some interesting background on what word meant before becoming a buzzword - " to invest with authority, authorize ... ".
Elsie was challenged because of the war. She had strength of character that was put to many tests. She answered these tests and realized empowerment through her core being. Her split decisions showed her true character & empowerment. The winds of war tossed her about...Mutti showed this strength of character - her decisions & heartaches were met head on. Jane was always her own person.
Reba had today's freedom to make choices -- that didn't necessarily show her strength. She seemed lost, lonely, seeking, adrift & determined not to make the mistakes of her mother. She was falling into the "too tough" role to be truly empowered. I see Jane as the doorway to her enlightenment. Riki also allowed her to find her true self where she could realize her core --becoming a compassionate, loving, vulnerable person. I commend the author for keeping any depiction of gender roles subtle - often an author bangs the reader over head with it. I never felt that in this book. The men showed tender sides - the women were strong -- each character was multi dimensional.
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