Shrewsbury, T. | Ware, M. | Baldino, A. | Moody, P. | Mull, T.

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Published by Erin R. McCoy

Associate Professor of English & Interdisciplinary Studies University of South Carolina Beaufort

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13 Comments

  1. Hello Everyone,

    I hope you all are doing well! To introduce myself, I am a Senior here at USCB and majoring in English and Biology. As an English major, I spend a good chunk of time every semester doing some kind of analysis and I have to say I find it much more enjoyable and easy to explore when doing analysis with the style of book we’re currently working on.

    The passage I want to look at for this post is at the end of chapter 3, the moment where Ana and her father share a bedtime story/”fairy tale” together. We (the audience) don’t know if the father made this tale up or if it is actually a story passed down, what we do know is that the father has clear intentions of influencing Ana’s political outlook many things political (immigration, refugees, war, etc.). What interests me the most about this post is what this means for our main character, Ana, and what this tells us about her relationship with both of her parents. To me, it seems that Ana clashes with her mother and most of the time we see them interact, her mother is reprimanding her in some way. To circle back to the “fairy tale,” the mother of the tale made a choice and she had to choose between life and death. I know 100 didn’t read Exit West, but in that book it is said that to flee is to murder everyone you leave behind. If the mother from the tale would have fled to the past, she would have erased her son. It is very interesting to me to see Ana’s father make this distinction as their own family contemplates fleeing for their literal lives, potentially putting Ana in a place to have to consider her only two options as both deadly choices. What do y’all think about this?

    Andrew Baldino, English 270 – World Literature

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hello Everyone,

    My name is Thomas Mull and I am currently studying business administration with a concentration in accounting. Despite being more of a numbers guy I actually do enjoy reading quite a bit. Girl at War seems to be a very interesting read so far. I appreciate the writer’s specific style of writing because it has a certain simplicity in its descriptions that make it very pleasing to read. In my opinion it is a nice juxtaposition from Exit West where the description and language were more grandeur. As far as the story goes, I really enjoyed how the author set the stage for the novel through the eyes of an innocent child. This allowed for a lot of the information to be presented, but not completely explained or understood, which in effect leaves the reader feeling slightly confused, but also extremely curious. This allows for the rest of the story to draw a lot of interest from the reader due to the fact that not all of the information is stated resulting from the child simply not understanding.

    Thomas Mull – ENGLB270 Section 001 Student

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello group,
      My name is Parker and I am currently a freshman at USCB. I am planning to major in business with a concentration in marketing. I am not normally someone who enjoys reading, but Girl at War held my attention. One part of the book that stood out to me was how Ana’s life changed so fast. She had a relatively easy and normal life until the civil war struck her country and changed her quality of life almost immediately. This led to her getting a limited amount of food, constant gunfire and the constant unknown in the back of her head. I think most Americans can relate to a sudden life change, with the pandemic changing everything about our day to day lives. Even though there is a big difference between war and a pandemic, the drastic life change is still there, which helped me relate and enjoy the story.

      Parker Moody (English 101)

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hello Everyone,

    My name is Mackenzie Ware. I am an English major with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. I have always had a deep interest in literature from childhood. Girl at War has been a refreshing change from Exit West. The writing style of the novel is even paced and easily understood. From what I have read so far, the story is filled with emotion. The emotional trauma of a young girl’s childhood distorted by the cruelties of a war she does not understand is enthralling. This is especially evident when Ana goes to the store to retrieve some cigarettes for Petra—her godfather—only for the cashier she has known all her life to snidely turn such a simple request into a culture war by asking if she want’s “Serbian” or Croatian” cigarettes. For me, this was a very absurd question. I have never known of cigarettes to have national origins, like coffee for example. I find the story to be very poignant in its description of the futility, destructiveness, and pointlessness of war. Especially a war of nationalistic and ethnic fervor. While there is nothing wrong with nationalism, a nationalistic war based on ethnicity is dangerous. We all know how that turned out in World War II. In this type of war, people who have known each other for years become complete strangers to one another. Neighbors, friends, and family become potential enemies, until everyone turns on one another in a dog eat dog manner. This type of world filled with such spite and hatred is damaging to children, especially when they do not understand why the must know hate their friends who are deemed to be part of the enemy by the government and their family. This is a tragedy all too real and frequent.

    Mackenzie Ware – ENGL B270 01W

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hello group, my name is Parker and I am currently a freshman at USCB. I am planning to major in business with a concentration in marketing. I am not normally someone who enjoys reading, but Girl at War held my attention. One part of the book that stood out to me was how Ana’s life changed so fast. She had a relatively easy and normal life until the civil war struck her country and changed her quality of life almost immediately. This led to her getting a limited amount of food, constant gunfire and the constant unknown in the back of her head. I think most Americans can relate to a sudden life change, with the pandemic changing everything about our day to day lives. Even though there is a big difference between war and a pandemic, the drastic life change is still there, which helped me relate and enjoy the story.

    Parker Moody (English 101)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Good afternoon group, it’s Parker. I enjoyed reading everyone’s posts in this group and liked learning what everyone else got from the story. I liked how Mackenzie pointed out how the cashier asked about which nationality of cigarettes she would like. I agree that that is a very weird question to ask, and didn’t catch that detail when I read the book the first time. I also agree with your statement about how the author does a good job portraying just how pointless a war is. I also agree with Thomas on how he described the author’s writing style. The author does a great job in providing a simple description which helps the reader get a better understanding of the book and what is going on. I also think Thomas had a great observation when saying how the book is presented. The author tells the story through the eyes of a young girl, which leaves certain details out and gives us other details we might not know if the story was told by someone older.
    Parker Moody (English 101)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hello everyone,

    I hope you all are enjoying this wonderful weather!

    The first idea I’d like to address is the one Thomas brought up. Thomas, I did not actually consider what the perspective does for the story but you’re right on every level. The fact that this story is coming through the eyes of a young girl completely changes the information we get, how we understand it, and the amount of additional work we have to put in to piece the narrative together. That was a wonderful point to make and it made me go back and reconsider what I had already read.

    The second perspective I’d like to address is Parker’s. Parker, you have a very different perspective of the book than what I do. You said, “This led to her getting a limited amount of food, constant gunfire and the constant unknown in the back of her head.” Your perspective definitely made me revisit my experience with the book. And while gunfire and the threat of the unknown didn’t stand out to me in part 1, it definitely stands out to me in part 2. I definitely read Ana with more of a go-about-your-day attitude as the adults in her life are the ones worrying about war and such but I’m glad your perspective encouraged me to think outside of the box.

    Best,
    Andrew B.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hello Everyone,

    I hope everyone has had a wonderful week and is enjoying the book thus far.

    Some things that I would like to point out through reading the second part of the novel is that I am extremely pleased with the subtle connections that are present in Ana’s new American life to her old life in Croatia. This creates a much more real feel to the emotions and the way that she mentally processes things in her everyday life. Nobody that goes through the traumatic experiences that she did would be able to truly leave them in the past when given a new life. As far as the assignment goes I really enjoyed the first week’s posts from everyone. Some points that stuck out to me were Mackenzie’s reiteration of the cigarette dilemma. It is the first time in the novel where the distinct cultural divide is made evident. This specific point hits very hard and you did a wonderful job of drawing parallels to coffee, which allowed me to have an easier comparison. I would also like to mention that Andrew’s deconstruction of the fairy tale that Ana’s father told her was extremely straightforward and effective. You did a fantastic job of sorting through the superficial story and seeing that it is just a medium for Ana’s father to have a much deeper conversation about the despair in the country with out directly using the words. He effectively uses the premise of a fairy tale to convey the severity and to sway Ana’s outlook on the situation that they would be forever marked and scarred by.

    Well done everyone and until next time,

    Thomas Mull – ENGLB270 Section 001 Student

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey everyone! I hope all is well.
    The comment that I wanted to talk about was made by Andrew.
    Quote: “We (the audience) don’t know if the father made this tale up or if it is actually a story passed down, what we do know is that the father has clear intentions of influencing Ana’s political outlook many things political (immigration, refugees, war, etc.). What interests me the most about this post is what this means for our main character, Ana, and what this tells us about her relationship with both of her parents.”
    It really made me think about that. At first I had just read over it thinking it was nothing but then I went back read it again and it made me think. Firstly I think that the “fairy tale” was way to (for lack of a better word) perfect to be passed down it was most likely made up on the spot. This leads me to my main point, I think Andrew is spot on. In my opinion I tend do see things the same way with how the dad intentionally made connection between the fairy tale and real life. It was again just him trying to get in her head subconsciously and make her think about these kinds of decisions without scaring her.
    I’m not sure how much sense that will actually make to most of y’all but I really enjoyed that comment/look on things and I’d like to hear what everyone else has to say.
    Best regards,
    Tyler Shrewsbury

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tyler!

      I think this was a very interesting perspective. When you think about it, it must have been extremely difficult for Ana’s father to describe the events of the war to her without permanently scarring her. The fairy tale was the only way he could allegorically describe the war in a manner she would have found to be less frightening and traumatic.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello Everyone,
    I hope everyone is doing alright (especially with this nice decrease in temperature).
    I have to say that Parker made an excellent point about how the civil war affects Ana’s life in a manner similar to how COVID-19 has affected our own lives. Even though war and disease are two completely different entities altogether, they do have some similarities in how they change how we go about our daily lives. To begin with, a war and a virus are unpredictable phenomenon. It is virtually impossible to determine who will survive a virus or who will succumb to it, similarly to how it is impossible to determine who will survive a war or who will be destroyed physically, mentally, and emotionally. In addition, Parker made another critical observation by outlining how food, medical, and municipal rationing dramatically altered Ana’s life.
    Andrew added an interesting perspective I had never thought to consider while reading Girl at War before I read his post. As per his post, it makes sense that Ana’s father would have a deep influence on her political outlook of the world. I also never considered how close Ana was with her father and how her mother did seem to berate Ana. Nor did I see or draw upon the parallels between the story Ana’s father told her and the events occurring in the story.
    Mackenzie C. Ware –– English 270 — World Literature
    P. S. (McCoy is the best. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello everyone!
    I love all the work that is being done in this blog post! It’s by far the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had with a discussion board/blog post project.
    I have to give credit to Mackenzie for highlighting this point first, but in talking about it I’m also referring to Thomas and Parker in their second posts. The idea of the cigarette transaction stood out to me when I first read it. I think to say that this symbolizes how “pointless” a war can be is a very interesting point to make. I think to label it pointless is a little bit problematic in that, to me, it minimizes the efforts on the side we sympathize with. I think that the nationalism and prejudice toward ethnic groups is pointless, but I simultaneously recognize that nationalism and prejudice/racism often, if not always, serve to reinforce people already in power. And in that sense, it can’t be pointless as it serves a purpose for a whole group of people. I think everyone is right to point out that the cigarette transaction is a loaded moment and it is clearly very complex. I think the coffee analogy is very interesting as well. I was thinking about wine, and one of the things it made me consider is where the line is between pride, genuine quality, and nationalism in goods that are traded. How are these things distinguished and at what point have those feelings of superiority gone too far? This is what I began to think about as I read everyone’s post.
    For my representation, I’ve chosen The Book Thief, a novel by Markus Zusak. I read this book in English 102 with Dr. Swofford. I don’t have anything to link because it’s a book and not an image or a short clip but you can easily find it via Google. This book is also war fiction and set in WW2. Much like The Girl at War, The Book Thief also follows a female main character. The Book Thief isn’t narrated through her perspective though, the narrator in that book is actually death itself. When you all mentioned that we were reading through the mind of Ana, I immediately thought about The Book Thief. There are just so many parallels between the two as they both feature young girls/women growing up through war, violence, and trauma. If it isn’t obvious, there are also tones of ethnic hatred in both, and dealing with that is a strong relation between the books as well for me.
    I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the week and I look forward to what you all have to say!
    Best, Andrew Baldino – ENGL 270

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Everyone!
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s blog posts. I find them all to be very insightful and offer unique perspectives of the book. This makes it all the more difficult for me to choose whom to respond to first. To being with, I have to agree with Andrew about both The Book Thief (I saw a film adaptation on TV and it was awesome! I totally recommend it!), and the absolute pointlessness concerning the concepts of ethnic prejudice, ethnic inferiority/superiority, and ethnic cleansing. In fact, one can see the devastating aftermath consequences of Nazi idealism taking root throughout the Yugoslavian Civil War, especially where race and religion are concerned.
    Furthermore, Girl at War clearly demonstrates how war destroys the lives of children. Children, who have no concept of war, ethnicity, or ethnic prejudices, are the most tragic victims of the Yugoslav Civil War. Ana, once a fun-loving and mischievous tomboy, is now a damaged, mentally scarred young woman haunted by the gruesome events of a horrific past. It is a miracle she managed to hold on to her sanity beyond the effects of PTSD. Let’s face it, most adults would not have had her bravery.
    I agree with Andrew’s second post as well. I did not realize how different the story would have been had it not been told from the POV of a ten-year-old girl. A child narrator was an interesting choice, as she would not have the knowledge, experience, and understanding of a teenager, young adult, or adult narrator.
    I also agree with Tyler’s second post. It is interesting how the fairytale actually mirrored what ended up happening in real life. For example, the young man’s mother sacrificed the potential to regain her youth to save her son; likewise, Ana’s father sacrificed himself to save his daughter. I know he did not really “sacrifice” himself as he was a bound, point black victim, but his actions ensured that she did not die with him. In the end, the love the parent (mother of the fairy tale/Ana’s father) had for their child led them to “sacrifice” something they did not want to lose. The mother had to sacrifice the opportunity to receive her youth to keep her son from being erased from existence; as did Ana’s father, he had to sacrifice his daughter to fate, in the hope that she would live, even though he knew he was going to die. Neither parent wanted their child to die or to live without them.
    I have chosen The Dream I Dreamed from Les Misérables as an alternative representation for Girl at War: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irhtXBAR-yU).
    Here are the lyrics, so I can elaborate further:

    There was a time when men were kind
    When their voices were soft
    And their words inviting
    There was a time when love was blind
    And the world was a song
    And the song was exciting
    There was a time
    Then it all went wrong
    I dreamed a dream in times gone by
    When hope was high and life worth living
    I dreamed, that love would never die
    I dreamed that God would be forgiving
    Then I was young and unafraid
    And dreams were made and used and wasted
    There was no ransom to be paid
    No song unsung, no wine untasted
    But the tigers come at night
    With their voices soft as thunder
    As they tear your hope apart
    As they turn your dream to shame
    He slept a summer by my side
    He filled my days with endless wonder
    He took my childhood in his stride
    But he was gone when autumn came
    And still I dream he’ll come to me
    That we will live the years together
    But there are dreams that cannot be
    And there are storms we cannot weather
    I had a dream my life would be
    So different from this hell I’m living
    So different now from what it seemed
    Now life has killed the dream
    I dreamed

    Lines 1-8 (There was a time when men were kind… Then it all went wrong) fit Ana’s idyllic, carefree childhood with Luka before the darkness and abysmal chaos of war descended upon them.
    Lines 8-20 (Then it all went wrong…As they turn your dream to shame) incorporates the cruelly remorseless realities of war Ana endured, from the horror stories told to her by her classmates, to the bombing of the Presidential Palace, to the slaughter of her parents.
    Lines 21-33 (He slept a summer by my side… I dreamed) is the childhood Ana lost and can never reclaim. The “He” mentioned is a symbolic metaphor for her childhood that the war stole from her. She frequently dreams of this lost childhood and idly reminisces that it will one day return to her, but she knows this is a fanciful dream that will never happen. The Yugoslavia she knew is gone forever. Ana, now a young woman and forever mentally, emotionally, and physically scarred by all that she has endured in the Yugoslav Wars, realizes life has killed the dreams, childhood, and family she once cherished and thought would last forever.
    Mackenzie C. Ware – World Literature

    Liked by 1 person

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