Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Two stories crossing
I am at the first crossover point between Clara’s Story and The House on Schellberg Street. This is the birth of Renate Edler, who is the main character in the first story. She was born five weeks prematurely in a thunderstorm and there were concerns about whether she would live. So, she was christened straight away. Her father had to find a priest quickly and the only one he managed to locate had had rather a lot to drink. He made three mistakes:
· He got the names in the wrong order
· He spelt Renata wrongly
· He spelt Clara wrongly.
The family had wanted the Italian spelling of Renata, not the German Renate. She was supposed to be named Clara after both of her grandmothers. So, instead of being Renata Clara she became Klara Renate. This may eventually have helped her to get out of Germany more easily in 1939.
In order to write this scene I’ve had to do some research about childbirth in the early 20th century. Five weeks prematurity would not be too critical these days. It still was then. Births would normally be at home and this is the case here though because labour started early the doctor as well as the midwife is in attendance. The husband would not be present at the birth like nowadays and even the doctor, the other nurse and the mother looked away as the midwife checked “down below”.
Was the disorientation as the second stage started recognised then? Even if it wasn’t, chances are women experienced it. Käthe, being the modern young woman she is, gives vent to those feelings, though Clara, enlightened as she is, remains a lady, and although she recognizes what Käthe is going through she remembers that she didn’t mention it out loud.
There was no machinery – no heart monitors and no oxygen on demand. The doctor and the midwife relied on stethoscopes and the baby’s airways had to be cleared manually. Clara fears a still birth but all is actually well.
Where the stories cross over they will have to match. This is the first of many, now. However, although they must never contradict they show different angles of various events. Now we see everything from Clara’s point of view instead of Renate’s or Hani’s. I hope those who have already read The House on Schellberg Street will enjoy reading about these events from this other point of view. Those who haven’t may wish to after they’ve finished Clara’s Story. They will of course then have the answer to the question left open; they will know what has happened to Clara. This isn’t really a problem – most people will have guessed anyway.