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Girl Waits with Gun
An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the...
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How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

Created: 05/12/16

Replies: 11

Posted May. 12, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

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How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

At their Wyckoff farm, both Norma and Constance were encouraged to continue their mother's "family tradition" of fear and distrust. Constance remembers how she used to struggle with this as a girl in Brooklyn. What are some of the ways that the Kopp sisters were taught to protect themselves, and from what? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? In what ways did the sisters fall in line, and in what ways did they fail to heed her warnings? Do you think they felt justified in ignoring her warnings?


Posted May. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickic

Join Date: 09/15/14

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I understand the fears and the avoidance that their mother felt was necessary for their protection and yet by emphasizing isolation she failed to teach them how to approach the problems they were likely to encounter in their lives. Fortunately, they were independent enough to make a go of things in spite of this.


Posted May. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I agree with vickic, Mother Kopp's way of protecting them through enforced isolation -- to the point of sabotaging Constance's attempt at a correspondence course -- left them vulnerable to life's ordinary challenges. It was never made entirely clear what made her so fearful, apart from being foreign, and abandoned by her husband. Perhaps that was beyond the scope of the author's solid research. But they were able to be self-reliant, and when the sheriff gave them the means to protect themselves, they rose to the challenge. No doubt the isolation had its saving grace, that it contributed to an independent attitude -- Norma's wearing of what she insisted were't really pants, and her unorthodox passion for pigeons, Constance's willingness to confront Kaufman, their refusal to live under their brother's protection.


Posted May. 16, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judithj

Join Date: 04/15/15

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

Because Mother Kopp was from another country, she was suspicious of everything. But her telling the girls not to talk to anyone, especially the police, wasn't realistic. After she died, they were forced to go out in the world and sometimes ask strangers for help. After the initial accident with Henry Kaufman several bystanders came to their assistance.


Posted May. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I don't think her approach to the upbringing of young girls in an urban setting was that unusual. Most children were taught not to speak to strangers, not to take food from strangers and later, not to take rides with strangers. In actuality, chaperones were usually present when young unmarried women were in public. At the time the story takes place the police did not have the respect and standing they came to have later in the century--they were to be feared as much as strangers and certainly, since most were Irish, maybe even more so.
Probably it made the sisters --Constance at least, more curious about the outside world and the people in it. Why else would she allow the Singer man into her home when she was alone? A total violation of the societal rules of the time. I don't think she would have been any less naïve if she had been less protected.

Interestingly, rather than producing women afraid of their own shadows, it produced strong willful women --most likely from the move to the country where, though isolated, they learned to fend for themselves and become independent when they succeeded on their own. They strode into the world with the self-confidence of survival, though Norma would have been happier going on as usual, without public contact or notoriety.


Posted May. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

Mother Kopp was a product of her background and the times in which she lived. Her life kept her isolated and she felt sure that was the answer to survival for herself and her daughters. In some respects she was probably right but sort of overdid it a bit. If you are old enough to remember the stories your mother told of her childhood and early years and compare it to your own and that of your children and grandchildren you can see that the "proper" behavior for young women has changed considerably. I think Mother Kopp was probably a pretty good representation of her age and acted accordingly. Survival meant avoiding any unnecessary contact with the world but Constance knew that could not work forever and fortunately had been taught at least how to use a gun if necessary. She also felt strongly that they had been wronged in the buggy/car accident and was determined to collect her due. This set her on her path and she kept getting tougher as she went. Unlike her mother she refused to hide in fear but took up for herself and her sisters and learned they were not as incapable as her mother felt they all were.


Posted May. 18, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tillieh

Join Date: 04/28/11

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I think Mother Kopp was subjected to things in the old country that led her to the mistrust of people, especially after her husband left her. She felt that she had to isolate her children to keep them safe from harm since there was no man in the house to protect them. I think it was pretty common in some cultures at that time, but shielding them eventually became a disservice to them. However, the experience with Constance and the sewing machine salesman opened her eyes to additional hardships that she was able to face and overcome with dignity and courage. This enabled her to face the injustice she felt at the hands of Henry Kaufman and his cronies.


Posted May. 19, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barb23703

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I was very often as frustrated with Mother Kopp as I was with Henry Kaufman. The isolation and mistrust seemed more like control than caution and the character was very overbearing to the story - and yet it was because of this isolation and the characters' ability to overcome the mistrust and embrace, to some degree, the outside world, that made this such an engaging story.


Posted May. 20, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyh

Join Date: 06/25/13

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I do not think it explained what happened to Mother Kopp before she came to America that caused her distrust police and government. She was wrong, I feel, in teaching this distrust to her children and keeping them from having friends and a normal life. She did have a distrust of men in general because of her husband leaving her and his children. I agree with barb23703, that I was very frustrated with Mother Kopp n the way she raised her children. Her son got to have a normal life


Posted May. 20, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliep

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

I think Mother's fear and distrust was passed on to Norma, who seemed to embody these attributes. But Constance was of a more curious nature, thus the Singer man, the birth of Fleuette, and her involvement with the Kaufmann gang. However, if Mother had been more forthcoming about "things" (like the birds and the bees) and how normal, non-feaful people lived their lives, Constance and Norma might have had a chance to lead more normal lives. But then there would have been no story of "Girl Waits With Gun."


Posted May. 21, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

Having the " birds and bees" conversation almost never happened with women--even when they were getting married. As to Mother Kopp teaching her girls how normal people lived, this overprotectiveness of fpemales WAS pretty normal for the time. A girl lived with her parents until she married and then she moved into her husband's home. If she didn't marry, she stayed with parents or other relatives until death. Going out " into the world" risked ruining one's reputation, no matter how innocent the foray, and could quite easily destroy any chance at the " normal " path of marriage and child bearing.

No wonder the Sheriff's wife complained and drank too much--even her home was horrible--a small apt in the jailhouse.


Posted Jun. 23, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Peggy H

Join Date: 06/13/11

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RE: How were the Kopp sisters taught to protect themselves? How do you feel about Mother Kopp's instruction? Did she have a legitimate reason for her fear and distrust? Do you think the sisters felt justified in ignoring her warnings?

We don't know much about the mother's background, except that she was foreign and her husband left her. Stepping up and accepting Fleurette as her child showed me more love for her daughter than I would have expected. The girls were certainly taught to exist on their own as their mother had to. I think that Norma more closely followed the mother and that the pigeons were her release. These are still young women learning their own place.


Pegh

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