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The Women in the Castle


A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the...
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Discuss The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck:
Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

Created: 02/10/18

Replies: 16

Posted Feb. 10, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1485

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Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?


Posted Feb. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Janet Smith

Join Date: 07/28/14

Posts: 14

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I identified with Marianne for a number of reasons. She carried a big burden trying to look after the other women as well as herself. Had the most sympathy for her.


Posted Feb. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
robertaw

Join Date: 04/20/16

Posts: 13

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I identified with Marianne the most because she seemed to be the strongest. Although I think she made some mistakes (primarily with Benita) I think at all times she thought she was doing the right thing. Of all the women she showed the strongest sense of responsibility and duty. I honestly felt sympathy for all the women.


Posted Feb. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Gloria

Join Date: 03/11/15

Posts: 37

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I didn't really identify with any of the women, but I empathized with them all. I think I liked Marianne the best because she was the alpha female, always taking care of everyone and doing what she thought was right.


Posted Feb. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurief

Join Date: 09/08/12

Posts: 35

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I definitely identified with Marianne though I don't know if I would have had her patience with Benita. She felt a duty to fufill her mission that was declared before the assassination attempt and was driven to accomplish it. I admired her loyalty.


Posted Feb. 12, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alycet

Join Date: 04/23/12

Posts: 84

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RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I guess I am identify more with Marianne. I had sympathy for all of them. The war and circumstances made them friends. In the beginning even they were doubtful.


Posted Feb. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynj

Join Date: 08/07/11

Posts: 34

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I loved reading the prior posts answering this question! I too think I am a Marianne. To a person we all identify with Marianne or think we are Mariannes. Is that wishful thinking? And I am only speaking for myself! I'm a little less brash, more thoughtful, a little less sure that I'm so right (my husband doesn't think that's true!), perhaps a little more cautious about causes and what I choose to support, but I hope I will always speak up and step up. I liked Ania least. She particularly seemed spineless, forbearing and long-suffering. How could she allow those babies to be taken to their deaths? She was weak and strong, and dishonest. Was it strength though or just taking the easiest way she could? Yes, I understand that she had sons, but she didn't particularly do them any favors either. Perhaps my judgement of Ania is too harsh. Again I wasn't in her position. She was a follower and accepted what was presented to her. She let things happen; she didn't make things happen. For Benita I can have sympathy.


Posted Feb. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyn

Join Date: 05/12/16

Posts: 8

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I admired Marianne for accepting a moral responsibility for what her country had done and for her strength and perseverance in helping the others. But she was completely unforgiving of anyone that had been part of the Nazi movement, not realizing that this judgement could hurt others. I had equal sympathy for Benita and Ania as they both suffered physically and mentally as victims of the war. Had Shattuck chosen to include the "additional chapter" about the firebombing of Dresden, perhaps we would have had more sympathy toward Ania.


Posted Feb. 13, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marys

Join Date: 05/24/11

Posts: 37

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I find it so interesting that everyone identifies with Marianne. I wonder if it is because she is the only one of the women who (somewhat) stood up to the Nazis and we all like to think we would have done the same? It is hard to imagine being in the place of Ania - at least for me. I've been very fortunate in my life and I don't know how I would do facing all the challenges that Ania faced.

I really had no patience for Benita and I struggled to find any sympathy for her character - despite the horrors of war that she experienced. She was just too self-centered for me to ever warm up to her.


Posted Feb. 14, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 205

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RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I identified with some aspects of each character. Marianne's impatience with frivolous things, her concern for justice; Ania's realization that in trying to free herself from an oppressive domestic situation, she had created another one for herself, her longing to protect her sons and other boys from growing into abusive manhood; Benita's feeling crushed by village small-mindedness and her longing to experience the world, without being prepared for it in any meaningful way. I have felt all of these things.

But each of these characters was flawed, too: Marianne's sense of right and wrong could make her cold-hearted at times. Ania for a long time was willing to ignore how her own lack of courage caused her to lie, and her lies hurt others, starting with the little Jewish boy who was her neighbor. Benita was lazy and self-centered, willfully ignorant of what was going on around her, and she used her good looks to get by. Ultimately each of them comes to realize and regret her mistakes, and each tries to atone in some way. I can identify with that as well.


Posted Feb. 14, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianac

Join Date: 04/02/13

Posts: 38

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I had the most sympathy for Ania, and the least for Marianne. I found Marianne to be rude, self-righteous and severely misguided.


Posted Feb. 17, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marie De

Join Date: 03/14/17

Posts: 4

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I agree with JLPen77. The comments about each character are right on.
I had the most sympathy for Benita. Coming from her disadvantaged position, who wouldn't be tempted to use her good looks to her advantage even though that is a trap. I also felt sorry for her when she lost Herr Muller. I think they could have been happy together.


Posted Feb. 17, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Carol Rainer

Join Date: 09/03/15

Posts: 55

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RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

Ania was the one I felt sympathy for. She did what was in her heart not knowing for a long time that she had been lied to and made to believe that what she was doing was right. Not till the end, when I read the missing chapter '14' did I understand how she became Ania Grabarek. That was the name that was on the Albrecht's list, as one of the resister's wives that Marianne should track down and to protect.


Posted Feb. 18, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paml

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 83

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RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I too felt great empathy for Ania, once I knew her whole story. What burdens she carried and the secrets she had to keep. She was truly haunted. I did actually understand each of the women, but that didn’t mean I liked them or identified with them.Understand them, yes. I believe that was this novels mission. Aniia’s Story was the most compelling to me especially with the additional chapter that was included.


Posted Mar. 05, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kdowney25

Join Date: 01/25/16

Posts: 61

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RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I found myself relating with some parts of each of them and my sympathy changing as their story unfolded. The horrors of war changes everyone-how could it not?- and they each had their own personal challenges to deal with.


Posted Mar. 05, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 312

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RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I think had I been in a similar situation I would have most likely reacted like Ania - early on being enthusiastically patriotic and all for the cause, not asking enough questions, and then later just walking away & hiding my guilt as much as possible.


Posted Mar. 17, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynne z

Join Date: 01/06/18

Posts: 8

RE: Did you identify more with one women than the others? Which did you have the most sympathy for? Which the least?

I was not attracted to Marianne throughout the entire book. She never liked Benita, because she was Connie's wife. Marianne was in love with Connie. I'm sure that accounted for her love of Benita's son, Martin, over that of her own children. What she did to prevent Benita from happiness with Muller was cruel and spiteful. She was a self-righteous woman who hid behind her "moral compass". I felt some sympathy for Ania as the book went on, but never could get out of my mind how she treated Otto Smeltz as a child. She lacked a conscience early in life and seemed amoral. Benita seemed like a victim to me, beautiful, but weak. I wasn't surprised when she committed suicide.


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