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TPAOL Question #19 - Life Made Death Small

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:53 am
by Liz
Pg. 304-305: "He heard Nekovar speak……Death gave life the beauty of finity, the beauty of the edge line, and life, even a second of it, made death small. And Mutz knew that while he could see this only in this moment, later, he would bat at it clumsily and either not believe it or not remember what it was, and though Anna and Balashov and Samarin would never see it, they lived on that threshold already." And on Pg. 310: "Bondarenko’s face took on the same expression of hope that they had seen on their first meeting,……Yet Mutz knew now how doom was the dark background which gave hope its shape."

What do you think Mutz is saying here? Do you think that neither Anna, Balashov nor Samarin ever saw that life made death small?

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:14 pm
by Depputante
Good Morning. :morning: Thanks for an easier question, I think. :-)

Well, Mutz is the soldier of the group. So perhaps, the sight of more death, compared to the others, has given him more appreciation for life. Therefore, he considers the other 3 (Anna, etc...) as not having a full appreciation of that life, as each of the three of them sort of flounder it. Cutting, Playing, Eating, life around them. Life make death small? So...I suppose they never really appreciate life, and are living their own sorrows, so don't really see that death could be small, if you have enough appreciation for life.

Mutz seems to have the strongest moral ethics of the group. (Still uncertain about why he left the Shaman out in the cold though.)

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:16 pm
by Endora
Wow, another tricky one, Liz.

Life made death small? I'd say that Mutz, in seeing so intensely because he was expecting to be killed, saw how beautiful everything to do with life was and maybe saw that death was just a continuation of that, a sort of inevitable step which continued the journey.

I'll have to think more about the second part.

I do keep seeing little parallels to Dead Man in this book. This is another.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:33 pm
by Liz
Good Morning, Depputante & Endora. I see your brains are already in full swing this morning. Wish I could say the same. I think I need some of this.... :morning:

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:40 pm
by Endora
Liz wrote:Good Morning, Depputante & Endora. I see your brains are already in full swing this morning. Wish I could say the same. I think I need some of this.... :morning:


Nice of you to think that Liz, but it's 4.30 here and I've had all day at work to get my brain in gear!

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:54 pm
by Liz
Endora wrote:
Liz wrote:Good Morning, Depputante & Endora. I see your brains are already in full swing this morning. Wish I could say the same. I think I need some of this.... :morning:


Nice of you to think that Liz, but it's 4.30 here and I've had all day at work to get my brain in gear!


I told you my brain cells weren't awake yet. :blush:

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:00 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Yet Mutz knew now how doom was the dark background which gave hope its shape."


That was one of my favorite lines in the book. I think Mutz had been plodding along in life and when he was almost shot it woke him up to that fact. The fact that his feeling of impending doom was what made him realize hope existed. As to the second part...still thinking on that one.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:21 pm
by gemini
What do you think Mutz is saying here? Do you think that neither Anna, Balashov nor Samarin ever saw that life made death small? This statement Mutz knew that while he could see this only in this moment, later, he would bat at it clumsily and either not believe it or not remember what it was, and though Anna and Balashov and Samarin would never see it, they lived on that threshold already. makes me think he is referring to that space in time where you are at deaths doorstep and life looks much more valuable.
even a second of it, made death small
He is saying that even though Anna , Balashov, and Samarin live more exciting lives or spiritual ( in the case of Balashov) they have not been in that split second where they appreciate life more because death is near. Samarin seems to think of himself as the destroyer (of life) and that he is above death, even to the point of not valuing life by taking anthers life for food. Anna wastes time pursuing a lost cause (Balashov) and takes unneccessary risks (Samarin) with her life and her sons.
And Balashov gives up a good part of his life.

Edit to add....just my personal opinion, they all gave up far too much of their lives for war.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:49 pm
by Liz
gemini wrote:makes me think he is referring to that space in time where you are at deaths doorstep and life looks much more valuable.
even a second of it, made death small
He is saying that even though Anna , Balashov, and Samarin live more exciting lives or spiritual ( in the case of Balashov) they have not been in that split second where they appreciate life more because death is near. Samarin seems to think of himself as the destroyer (of life) and that he is above death, even to the point of not valuing life by taking anthers life for food. Anna waste time pursuing a lost cause (Balashov) and takes unneccessary risks (Samarin) with her life and her sons.
And Balashov gives up a good part of his life.


I agree, Gemini. I was thinking that he was at that point where his life passes before him. I don’t think I’d be thinking death was small, though. It would seem very huge to me—as in infinite. That is what confuses me about this statement. So I think that he was thinking of how full life can be and that he appreciated his, and felt that neither Balashov, Samarin or Anna would allow themselves to live their lives to the fullest because each had some obsession that was suppressing their ability to enjoy life:

Samarin and his focus on the cause above all else.

Balashov and his focus on trying to be a perfect angel.

Anna and her focus on revenge.

Any of these things would stand in the way of any enjoyment in life. And not only that, they were affecting those around them, as you so eloquently pointed out.


gemini wrote:Edit to add....just my personal opinion, they all gave up far too much of their lives for war.


They aren't the only ones. :-/

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 7:40 pm
by suec
It seems to me that the quote is about balance. It reminds me first of all of a quote of a survivor, so close to death, who said that he had learnt he would do anything for one more day, one more hour, one more moment of life. Mutz is feeling that: the request to taste the snow, the insight that his executioner would waste no time. At the same time, he feels the intensity, the joy, of life, as he connects with himself as a boy. And in the quote above, he reflects on the beauty of life. But he goes on to reflect, in response to Nekovar's efforts to save them: "And Mutz knew it was right but he'd seen on the threshold for a moment a way to take the certainty of death and the great wonder of life and hold them in balance, neither denying the other and each casting light on the other, death and life as both the rim and the core". I think there is acceptance there, of the whole; that that is what he sees in that moment.
It is late here now and I need to think some more about the second question. But I agree with Liz because those characters don't exactly have that sense of balance.

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 10:11 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
This whole section really stood out to me when I read the book. I think it is just fabulously written. I marked this passage as one of my favorites:

"Mutz the boy and Mutz the man recognised each other and for an instant he was engulfed by a joy so intense that he could hardly stand."

I think Mutz might have been feeling or understanding real joy for the first time in a long time...maybe ever.

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 2:35 am
by Theresa
Just a few thoughts on today's question --

What was Mutz saying?
By seeing the certainty of death staring him in the face, he had the revelation that life is precious because it is finite – and would come to an end. Anna, Balashov and Samarin had all faced death too, in one form or another, but none of them had ever had that revelation of the wonder of life. I believe that's what Mutz meant when he thought that they lived on the threshold already, but would never see how big life was.

Life, even a second of it, made death small --
It seems that Mutz discovered that even one second of life could hold all the possibilities of the future and all the remembrances of the past – but death was small because it held none of these things. It was just the end.

Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:56 am
by Liz
theresa wrote: Life, even a second of it, made death small --
It seems that Mutz discovered that even one second of life could hold all the possibilities of the future and all the remembrances of the past – but death was small because it held none of these things. It was just the end.[/color]


Theresa, I think that is it--that is what he meant. I just don't see it exactly the same way as he does. It could be that looking at life and death in that respect is saved for those on the threshhold of death.