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Areej Zaitoun

I guess I'll start with Jussi. He is proud and hardworking. He is also uptight and stingy. He keeps an eye on everything that goes on in his house. He knows about every bit of food that is eaten. While building his house he uses bricks from another building in order to recycle and cut costs. He is also always thinking ahead. He is constantly thinking about what he will have to get done next on his farm. It seems that he is not a people person. He goes to gatherings because he has to, not because he wants to.

Monique Ohanessian

Although he seems like more a minor character, I wanted to draw some attention to Janne Kivivuori. For some reason, his character struck me immediately in Chapter Four, when he was described as “the worst malingerer”, but also as “the sharpest student” (121). This reminded me a lot of Eero, the smart-mouthed youngest brother from Kivi’s “Seven Brothers”. Like Janne, Eero was the quickest learner, although he seemed the most nonchalant and trouble making. This fact about Janne signified to be that he would be important later in the story, and as the socialist movement and the Workers organization grew, this turned out to be true. On page 235, his incredible understanding and prowess in regards to law is unveiled, as he even begins to explain the parameters of a legal demonstration to Halme, who before has been portrayed as all knowing. There is even a sense of threat to Halme, when he begins “trying to reserve a place in the association for Janne so that the boy would not take a notion to choose his own.” Janne is extremely passionate about things when they begin to interest him, and although Linna writes that in his youth, “Janne was not working purposefully to any goal”, the author also hints at how important Janne will be in the future, by including a scene forty years later wherein “Town Councilor Kivivuori” is discussed. There are obviously a lot more prominent characters than Janne, but his passionate, flighty demeanor makes him a good juxtaposition to the more reserved, proud Akseli.

Andy Nestingen

Sometimes it's helpful to examine the introduction to a character. Often, a trait or theme is identified in the character’s introduction, which the author repeats and amplifies over the rest of the novel. This is the case when we look at the tailor, Adolph Halme. He is introduced as a tailor, and like that of many of the novel’s characters, his occupation is important. Tailors work with the fashions of clothing. But Halme’s preoccupation with fashion doesn’t focus on clothes, but rather on ideas. The introduction to Halme stresses just this point (22). “Later in the evening when the beer was going around he’d have the chance to sound off on matters of importance.” That sounds to me like someone who likes to talk about things as though they know the most about them, as though they have the inside information. It’s the kind of person who, having met a famous figure once, would talk about them by first name. He appears to like to be seen as up to date with the latest fashion, which he talks about with authority. Halme’s tendency at first appears as funny in Pentti’s Corner, because the other residents don’t know what he’s talking about, and find him a boor.

While Halme’s interest in fashionable ideas is at first comical, it later becomes threatening. It’s helpful to see how the trait is introduced, because it becomes so important as the novel progresses. The Vicar make the point: “how [Halme] enjoyed parading his knowledge and learning, spouting his bookish phraseology” (232). But the vicar doesn’t like it that “a self-taught tailor” can make good arguments, that pressure him to acknowledge problems with his own ideas. The vicar especially doesn’t like it that the “oratorical defender of the fatherland had turned out to be a socialist agitator” (232). Halme couldn’t make these arguments without his interest in fashionable ideas, and his tendency to speak about them with authority.

So we see that traits emphasized in Halme’s introduction are repeated and developed over the course of the novel. The interesting question is: What are we to make of Halme? When we first meet him, he is a misfit, because he can’t work at the roofing be like the others. Does he remain a misfit? Is he a pompous fool, who can never fit in? Or, does being a misfit give him a special role, because as a misfit, he can challenge and agitate for change in a way that conformists like Jussi never can? What do you think of Halme, and why? By looking at the introduction of a character, and tracing some key changes, we get a better picture of the character and his or her role in the novel.

Deven Rice

I like the charector Otto a lot. He seems to be a nice, easy going guy but when it's time to work he gets the job done. I'm not going to say he's the greatest dad or husband in the world but it seems he has a charm about him that gets people to like him. He's kind of a jokester he pokes fun at his wife and friends from time to time. Nothing to really offend but more for fun. When Jussi got the crew together to build the roof Otto realy stepped up and took charge. He told people what needed to be done and he motivated them to work harder and better. Work ethic apparentaly was very important at that time because it seems that work was one of the few ways to impress others. I really like this quote on pg. 21, "All the men were interested too in what he had accomplished and he was given many compliments, for in those days, work was the only honor among these people. Not only was it their honor; it was also the absolute and sole condition of life." Though in this case the book is describing Jussis accomplishments I feel the same could be used to compliment Otto. According to the quote I would say Otto showed much honor to society for his work ethics.

Laura Patterson

I did not like the Vicar. He was completely controlled by his wife and did things he knew were wrong only because he was afraid of what she would do if she did not get her way. I feel like his character is ironic because as a man of God shouldn't he not give in to temptation and do what he knows is right? When he asks the Kostas to start working more hours at the parsonage he fights with himself for a long time to justify doing so. He knows he is working the family too hard but continues to do it so he can please his wife by having servants and horse drawn carriges. I did like at the end, however, when he and his wife attended the wedding and brought presents and praise for Akseli and Elaini.

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