One of the Jewish refugees tells Frankie about his story of escape, ending with "There is no God. Only us." The question of faith had to be front and center in the minds and hearts of these desperate people running for their lives, being persecuted because of their religious belief. Wartime and questioning faith go hand in hand, starting with, "How can God allow this to happen?" and ending up separating out devout believers and discouraged previous believers forced to be nonbelievers. (Q-5) I don't think that the decisions Iris and Frankie made in regard to Emma had so much to do with faith as with protection and softening the blow of bad news.
(Q-6) This "last summer of innocence for the United States before it was drawn into WWII" could be compared to the summer of 2001, when no one would have believed American would be attacked on 9/11 and subsequently war declared. The difference is in the novel the Americans are apprehensive of just such an attack, well at least Harry was on the lookout!
(Q-7) The background of the characters is something I did not think about before reading this question (one of the perks of discussion questions), but now that their various backgrounds have been pointed out, it does not necessarily change my opinion of them. The fact that Emma was an orphan makes me think that she probably felt abandoned when Will left for Europe, it probably brought up some old feelings of helplessness. Knowing that Emma was an orphan probably made Will want to take care of her and protect her, which worked out fine until his own demons surfaced. After losing a patient, feelings of failure instilled early by his drunken father surfaced and drove him to the war where he thought he could make up for his failures and losing one patient by saving others. The fact that Frankie grew up in a city makes her strong and worldly, with daily opportunities to interact with different types of people, which could have been a major factor in shaping her personality into the woman she became.
(Q-8) The individual stories of people and the affect war has on each one is what Frankie is telling, making it easier for her listeners to identify with the victims, the fact that they were listening to a story about a real person, sometimes hearing their actual voices from the disk recorder, brings the horror of war home faster than hearing news of entire cities being bombed or statistics of total death count, as I said earlier, leave that for the history books. Like Frankie's listeners on the radio, we as readers of this story are similarly affected by her style of storytelling and war reporting.
This discussion has made me appreciate the book much more than when I first read it, I enjoy the process and dissection and learning.
~posted by Susan of patchwork reflections