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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:
How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?

Created: 02/10/18

Replies: 4

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1559

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How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?

How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?


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

Join Date: 02/05/16

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RE: How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?

Her beauty was a "marketable" asset that helped her first to marry Connie and escape her narrow world, and later to survive until she was rescued, reunited with Martin and given a safe place to live. It was an advantage to her in attracting a new protector in Herr Muller, an opportunity for her to enter a relationship built on affection and trust, one which might have grown into mature love. When Benita first received Connie's final letter, she wasn't ready to face up to something she dimly intuited, but later came to fully realize: that there is a difference between relationships of convenience, so available to her based on her beauty, and genuine love. By the time she did read that letter, she had learned this -- along with feeling a new sense of guilt for how she'd treated Connie, and a greater sense of loss for the marriage she had hoped for, but lost. And at the same time, she realized she was attracting the unwelcome attention of her brother-in-law. It must have seemed to her that any prospect love was permanently tainted by the ghost of a dead hero she had mistreated, the memories of having to be intimate with enemies simply to survive--something she did not want to repeat-- and the loss of a good man who insisted he wasn't good enough to marry her (so who, in post-Nazi Germany, ever would be)? In all of these ways, her beauty had become a curse, a shell that left her empty inside, without love. All of this, I think, influenced her tragic decision.


Posted Feb. 15, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianac

Join Date: 04/02/13

Posts: 38

RE: How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?

Beauty is a double edged sword. It gets you what you want but in many ways can work against you because people almost always judge books by their covers and therefore certain assumptions are made. Reading Connie's letter was the final straw for Benita in helping to decide her fate. It pushed her into the arms of eternal sleep. I would imagine the feeling of love being dead is a natural occurrence after many years of war.


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: How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?

Benita’s character seemed shallow and immature to me. Was that because of her beauty which is superficial. I believe that as Benita aged, she lost who she was, her beauty was fading. What did she have left? Reading Connie’s letter, I believe she realized how shallow she had been. How dare her be so selfish to commit suicide and leave Martin an orphan. I was not very empathic towards Benita.


Posted Mar. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gretchenm

Join Date: 06/04/12

Posts: 17

RE: How did Benita's beauty both help and hurt her? How did reading Connie's final letter influence the tragic choice she makes? Why do you think Benita felt that love, for her generation, was dead?

I think that when she saw the evil, the destruction and the loss of a true love she didn't think a loving world in any sense could ever return.


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