The farm as the symbol of the state

Metaphorical depiction of the nation and the state in the childhood memories of older Estonians

Ene Kõresaar

Several biography researchers have in their studies referred to the strong relations between the childhood world in the memories and the nation as an 'imaginary community' (Anderson 1983/1991). It is emphasised that childhood memories may form an essential part of those metaphorical means that are necessary to envision a nation (Gullestad 1996b: 9-10). In my earlier articles I have dealt more thoroughly with the problems why childhood memories cover a large part of the whole life story (Kõresaar 2002), where at the same time the Soviet period tends to disappear from the biographies (Kõresaar 2001b; 2001c). The following focuses on how childhood memories actualised at the end of the Soviet period and especially at the time the independent republic was reborn in the 1990s. An answer is sought how the relations of the individual, the society, the state and nation are construed by the Estonians born in the 1920s in the stories of their childhood they narrated in the 1990s. These are childhood memories of the village, of the (father's) farm and family, which I have interpreted as the metaphors of a nation-state.

Analysing these childhood narratives, one has to take into consideration the complexity of time structures, which is characteristic of this form of narrative, and which could be called 'biographical syncretism'. It means that in the biography the individual, social and historical time (cf. Eriksen 1994, Lehmann 1983: 13-17) as well as the past, the present and the future are reflected in mutual interaction. It applies to the levels of experience, reminiscence and interpretation. (1) From the aspect of the individual the past, present and future reality are combined in his/her life story (cf. Jaago 2001a), likewise in the analysis of biography different times and contexts, in which experiences are acquired and recalled, have to be considered simultaneously. One's biography is narrated retrospectively; the experiences of childhood and youth are integrated in one's general set of experience and knowledge, which serves as a basis for evaluation. Biographical narratives are also connected with the social structure of collective memory and influenced by the general historical context. Finally, the texts are entwined in the semantic environment, which conditions how something is recounted, as well as how these stories are received. The possibility that an event is narrated in some way is dependent on the forms of social discourse. Each narrating process takes place in certain notional conditions, accepted forms of narration and audience effects (2) (Heins 1993: 76).

This analysis is based on biographies contributed to the Society of Estonian Life Stories in 1989-1997 in reply to several appeals. The largest ones (3) Do you remember your life story? Estonian biographies (1989), The fate of me and my kin in the turns of history (1997) concentrated on the relations of the individual, society and history, but particularly on memories of revolutionary times, because "this could include for future generations the experience of complicated times in Estonia" (from the appeal Estonian Life Stories). Each appeal also involved general instructions how to write a biography: "What is important is the author's childhood, home, era, setting, political party membership, current situation in the writer's life. Priority should be given to events that have had an impact on the writer's fate and life." (ERE I: 7) Thus the biographers were given general outlines that could be adjusted and interpreted at one's discretion. Participation in the collection contests was lively, more than 800 biographies of different length were contributed. 245 of them were biographies of people born in the twenties, including 132 written by women and 113 by men. For analysis 52 of these biographies, 6 written by men and 46 by women, have been used, written from 1989 to 1997. 46 of the biographers were born and/or lived in the country in childhood, of them 40 came from a farmer's, 4 from a rural craftsman's, 1 from a shopkeeper's, 1 from a captain's and 2 from a servant's/field hand's family. 6 of the biography writers were from towns, 1 of them from a shopkeeper's, 3 from a clerk's 1 from a worker's and 1 from a railway worker's family. The gender disproportion of the studied material is dependent on the current stage of work on these biographies. Although the proportion of men's biographies is very low here, it can be stated that it does not affect the general results. For example, the comparison of biographies of men and women born in the 1920s, collected in 1998-1999 by means of biographical interviews, shows that the schemes, topics and accents of childhood memoirs are not subject to substantial gender discrepancies from this aspect (cf. Kõresaar 2001b: 121-122; 2001c: 45-46). Kaari Siemer makes the same conclusion in the analysis about the depiction of the pre-war Republic of Estonia in the biographies of older Estonians (Siemer 2001).

Conceptions of the family, home and local community have generally been the central metaphoric devices since the beginning of modern nationalism. Home, kindred, local community and family are categories, which are closely linked with the idea of national identity (cf. Gullestad 1997, Morley 2001). These are sensed as natural and inborn qualities, on the one hand they are real, live experiences, on the other hand they are selected and adjusted - construed or 'invented' (Hobsbawm 1983).

For the purpose of this article it is useful to analyse childhood memories as (anthropological) 'places', (4) which are like partially materialised images of what the relationships of people in their opinion are with the territory, with their fellow people and with 'others' (Augé 1994: 64-69). Childhood as a place (cf. going back to the land of one's childhood) combines in itself the physical quality of the place (farm, nature, village, etc.) and the quality of social relations (family, community, school, etc.).


Village as the ideal society

Childhood is referred to in the biographies as a period of the happiest and the warmest memories. The childhood community - mostly the village - is the small [personal] world of the biographer - "rich in smokes [farms] and children, a paradise of flowers and birds" (f., 1923, EE552: 3). The childhood village is associated in the biographies with high social values like solidarity, mutual assistance and respect and informal equality:

In the village people got on well with each other like one family. Especially the neighbouring families. If necessary they helped one another, no charge was taken. Carting of manure to the field and threshing were done together, others were helped with their work. Then also better meals were cooked for the people. When you had something better at home, fresh meat, fish or when the cow freshened, milk - was given to neighbours, too. And when you ran out of bread before the new lot was ready, you borrowed it from the neighbours, weighed it with steelyard and afterwards gave back to the neighbours. [---] I played with neighbours' children. [---] We got on very well, I don't remember having any trouble or quarrels. When they sometimes said bad words to one another or called names, usually as a joke - they never used any bad language to me. And I didn't either. Later I understood that all their family were very good people. Our pastures were next to one another, with no fence between them. (f., 1923, EE554: 3)

The village like 'a family', much more informal communication than nowadays, the sense of belonging based on tradition - these are real childhood experiences. In the context of the whole life story these are applied more generally to the time and the society, it is represented as typical and conclusions are made about the state. For example in a later comparison with the Estonia of today in a biography written in 2000, the Estonia of the childhood is perceived as a country of real democracy:

Childhood passed without worries and safely in the Republic of Estonia, a really democratic country. (m., 1925, ENSV183: 1)

A national ideal society is one where no one dominates or is in power with respect to others. The equal members of society co-operate so that the structure of the society could function harmoniously (cf. Treanor 1997). The small world of the childhood in the biographies of older Estonians has just such an ideal harmonious form, and their dialogue with the next societies in which they live arises from this basis:

I often find myself pondering over the kind of social order my soul really yearns for. [---] In my dreams such an order should be established which is neither communist nor capitalist, where there is no crime, hunger or want. It would be a fair society of happiness and welfare. This notion is definitely not realisable and will remain just a dream or fantasy of an old woman. (f., 1923, EE444: 225-226)

The image of the childhood society as a harmonious association functioning on the basis of informal equality is the dominant perception in the biographies of senior Estonians. This does not mean that biographers belonging to different social layers would not refer to social inequality in their memoirs. In short - the length of this article unfortunately does not allow a more thorough analysis - it can be pointed out that children of wealthier farmers and urban middle-class families see social hierarchy through positive experience, (5) whereas the children of poorer farmers and workers and craftsmen through negative experience.(6) Negative social experience does not change the general congenial picture of the childhood society, yet it may influence the interpretation of the whole course of life (cf. Siemer 2001: 18-19). Among the analysed biographies there was only one story, which was in radical opposition to the dominant awareness of the equal (childhood) society. This two-part biography of a woman born in 1920, who later worked as a farm hand and house helper, is full of criticism of social inequality. The aim of her biography (or rather memories of her childhood and youth) is to express her protest against the predominant treatment of history: (7)

To tell the truth, life in old Estonian times was not so good at all! Who had money, had authority. And poverty and wealth went "side by side". Housemaids, kitchen workers and other unskilled workers - their salaries were so low, and if they had a large family, they couldn't make ends meet. There was need all the time, they bought herring pickle to have with bread and potatoes, if they could afford it. (f., 1920, EE140 II: 13)

"All the village like one family" in haymaking. EE 501.


Farm as the proper place to spend one's childhood

Home as a specific and social room is described in detail in childhood memoirs. Biographers from farmers' families dedicate a considerable part of their biographies to their home farm, its size (as a rule, the area of the farm is given exactly!) (8) and its physical environs, daily life on the farm (with animals as the inevitable part of the farm - their names are mentioned, too), to rare leisure time and typical arrangement of farm life (cf. Jaago & Jaago 1996: 94-95).

The size of our place was 14.3 ha. Father and uncle built the house and a shed for animals 15-20 m. from the sea. The house had a thatched roof. There were 3 rooms and a kitchen in the house. Grandfather was a small and smart, light-footed man. He worked in the field first. As many animals were kept on our small fisherman's farm as the place could afford. 1 horse, 2 cows, 3 sheep, 2 pigs. The horse "Juku" was a small brown gelding, with low legs, a very strong draught animal, "thick-headed", as my father used to say. Father was 185 cm tall, a strong man, they were a match with "Juku". It was father's task to feed animals, go to the mill, carry firewood, etc. Father and uncle dealt more with fishing. Fishing was a seasonal work. In spring after ice broke up, in autumn, when water was colder already. In our family ice fishing was not practised in winter. In winter men made weirs. They knitted weirs in the house and looked for weir stakes in the woods. Everything had to be in order by spring fishing. Grandmother said about father: our Juri is such a man who can do anything. And it was true. He and uncle Jaan built the houses that were in the yard. Father was more like a "supervisor" then. He made all the tables, chairs, beds. He made agricultural implements, wagons, and sledges himself. Beer casks, barrels, baths - all were made by father.

Farm life is the true symbol of childhood in the biographies of town children as well. Their childhood memories include lengthy stories of summers in the country on the farm(s) of relatives, of the feeling of joy caused by meeting relatives and the beautiful scenery, romantic farm works: "My childhood is associated with these farms near Ahja" (f., 1925, EE449: 8).

For example a woman born in 1927 and raised in Tallinn describes her "father's farm in Torma, Lullikatku village" as her most significant childhood memory. In the farm there was grandmother, whom the family visited once in a while. Memories of the village and the farm are given in detail (in much more detail and colour than those of the home in Tallinn), she pictures the way to the farm, people who lived by the road and their life in later years:

To the right, nearly in the middle of the village there was the large farm of my father's cousin Alfred Seppius. Wide folding doors. Glass porch. Ancient ash trees by the road. About 80 ha. of field, on top of that, wood and grassland. Alfred Seppius was a small man, with slightly red hair and a narrow hook nose. He was the owner of a large farm, but he got on well with everybody. When 'kulaks' were deported in 1948, friends from the village council warned him. He harnessed the horse, took his family (wife and son) and went to Jõgeva. Seppius was denominated a 'kulak' [an exploiter; prosperous farmer] only after the third meeting - he had so many friends among the poorer. But every village had to have its own 'kulak'.

When Alfred died, there were really a lot of people at the funeral. The well-known Torma brass band played all through the night and pastor Muru said in his speech: "This farm was bought 150 years ago from the lord of the manor. Only thanks to the hard work and toughness of the Estonian peasant it became a large farm…" It was in the 60s-70s, don't remember exactly. (f., 1927, EE479: 2-3)

The woman continues with the description of her uncle Peeter's farm and household, her father's farmyard and house, her grandmother. She concludes the story of her childhood farms as follows:

What do I remember from the visits to Torma? Warm, hot summer. Much sun. Wide fields. Dahlias under farmhouse windows. (f., 1927, EE479: 5)

A country home in the childhood symbolises safety, stability and continuity. The inevitable part of farm descriptions - nature is here an equivalent of certain social and human qualities - harmony, freedom, natural purity and goodness, (9) and in the biographies nature is given a 'national' content. A 'natural' childhood is also a 'national' childhood:

I was happy to be born into a farm family. Nowhere else, nobody, even the royal children had such a nice childhood as the children on Estonian farms did. As soon as the child starts to walk, he climbs over the threshold and is in the middle of nature. There is soft green lawn under his feet, the sun and wind around him, blue sky above his head, birds and animals everywhere. The stronger the foot, the longer walks he can take around the home farm, to flowery meadows, woods, to rivers and lakes. You are free. Farm people have too little time to look after you. Maybe only when you are very small. Later your elder sisters-brothers look after you and they are not so strict.

Royal children have a nanny, a teacher and maybe also a bodyguard to watch their every step all the time. No freedom at all! (m., 1920, EE596: 1; cf. Siemer 2001: 17)

That spring after the end of the school year we moved to Merivälja, into our own home, as father said. He had wanted a home for himself and the family for a long time already - our own home and garden where children could grow in the midst of nature and learn to love everything that is beautiful in our country. (f., 1925, EE519: 25)

Land and nature were the axis of national structure in the first half of the 20th century and an essential component of ethnic identity later during the occupation period. Also in the second half of the 1990s being an Estonian meant a place in the country - one's own place in the truest sense of the word (cf. an Estonian in his own land) and untouched nature (Karu 1997: 34-36, 48). (10) Nature-centeredness and love for nature are traditionally regarded peasant - Estonian - values together with industriousness, toughness and scantiness. Long detailed nature descriptions in biographies are an integral part of 'national patriotic' childhood, showing descent from ethnic environment both physically and socially.


Farm as the model of nation state

Just like the farm in biographies is the ideal environment for childhood, the life arrangement and social relationships in the (home) farm represent the ideal order for the biographer. The farm is the metaphor of the nation state, focusing on internal purity, protection of (national) resources and self-determination (cf. Gullestad 1996a: 298). Several biographers who come from the country point out that buying the farm was father's great dream, and that the whole family worked towards it:

It was May 8, 1933 when father pushed the ploughshare into the earth of his Own Land for the first time. His great dream had come true! (f., 1923, EE257: 22)

In 1938 we could buy the small Veski farm in Mahtra village. His own farm was father's greatest dream. To get this, we all had to make steady efforts and give up a lot. (f., 1928, EE500: 12)

The method that leads to self-determination and secures it, is honesty and diligence, (11) wise accounting, optimum division of work and planning ahead (the so-called peasant wisdom):

As far as I can remember, the family worked regularly on the farm. Father cultivated land, each year improved new field on account of forest and grassland. Fields were very stony, we picked the stones and used them for building stone fences and roadbeds. These were granite stones. In the field potatoes, rye, wheat, oats, mash and clover were grown. There was a definite order in the fields (seven years, I believe). Father was a careful farmer, he always had a grain reserve in case there was a crop failure. We never were short of grain, often neighbours came to borrow from us. Besides that we grew vegetables: carrots, swedes, cabbages, beets, chicory, dill and cucumbers. We could eat that all the year round. [---] Cucumber growing had an important role. (According to father, he had brought this "fashion" to our neighbourhood). For that the land at the side of the meadow was used, but beds were also made on fallow land. That was quite hard to do. A spadeful of surface was taken from the furrow and turned, roots up. The same was done on the other side, so that there was grass in the middle. A thick layer of fresh manure was laid on that grass (as it was decomposed it warmed the plants). Then earth was taken from the furrow and was laid over the bed so: [drawing]. These [cucumbers] were grown mainly for sale, but were also on our table both fresh and pickled. (f., 1923, EE263: 3-4)

In the Estonian language such arrangement is called the 'proper behaviour of a landowner' (heaperemehelikkus), which is regarded as the ideal model of functioning for both the system (the state) and private institutions (the family). In a later biography written at the end of the 1990s it is expressed in a criticism of the state: (12)

I think that the state is like a farm. There lives a family and the head of the household. The latter sees to whether and how the land is cultivated, the family fed, so that the old ones could live respectably and children could grow and get educated. According to available means expenses are made to develop the farm, etc. You have to live within your means, not waste money thoughtlessly. The state should act in the same way. (f., 1928, EE868: 37b-38)


National gender roles and the stereotype of the Estonian

Like farm management in the childhood memories of older Estonians has the role of a model how the state functions, the descriptions of family relations, especially of one's parents may serve as an idea how the (national) society should function, what the gender roles and areas of responsibility are, how the national traits of character and the contribution to the growing of the nation are divided.

Older Estonians characterise their family living in Estonia before its occupation as harmonious, warm, safe, keeping together, based on durable values. Quarrels were hidden from children, the atmosphere was cheerful, good humour was respected.

[---] little is needed for a happy home. Bread, clothes, health and above all, affection. All this was conveyed and radiated from father and mother to us children and to the whole world. These would have been lasting values, if they hadn't been robbed from us. (f., 1926, EE24: 2)

There was no wealth in our house, but we had a happy home and we learnt to support one another and we do it even today, those who are alive still. (f., 1920, EE489: 2)

My parents' marriage [---] was a very harmonious one, I never knew what a domestic quarrel was. [---] All in all, my parents were very cheerful, they loved to sing, mother was a good portraitist, she could have become an actress if she had had education. Father was the chairman of the school council and a member of the parish council, he baptised children in the village, made funeral speeches when last tributes were paid to the dead at home and acted as the best man at weddings. We have inherited a good sense of humour from our parents. [---] My father was Santa Claus [at the school Christmas party], village people even had a song [about him] (f., 1923, EE533: 15-16)

Characterisation of the head of the family - father - is essential for the biographers. Many call themselves a father's child. Father is described longer and in more detail, references to different life situations associated with father are much more frequent. Father's personality traits are included, compared to mother, whose life story is given. In several biographies a separate chapter (or appendix) is dedicated to father's life and events.

As a rule, both parents are described as hard-working and honest people. Father is skilled at every work, he is an artist of life, who takes the family through hard times and gives good education to children; mother is a clever housewife, talented home decorator. Mostly at least one of them has a talent, which is inherited by children. Usually it is musicality: father plays the violin or the concertina, mother sings well. Furthermore, father is socially active, he organises choir singing or is connected with the local parish administration (mother's activities are mentioned by some town children). Also father's progressive open-mindedness is remembered: father is among the first to buy a radio, a car, he experiments with new methods of construction and land improvement, mother's open-mindedness is exposed for instance in home decoration and using the skills studied at home economics courses. Yearn for education, love for literature, freshness of mind and being well-informed of various matters of life are more often mentioned about father, but similarly negative traits or habits (short temper, excess drinking, gambling). Father is a many-sided person, mother stays in the background, she is rather remembered for her own emotional safety (mother's singing in twilight) and care.

It is also significant what kind of learning children gain from their parents in the biographies. Mother teaches goodness, care and love, letters and fear of God. The words of wisdom attributed to mother in the biographies are practical and moral: "always be hard-working and strong, then your life won't be idle" (f., 1922, EE27: 4).

Mother sometimes told wise stories. "You may do good a thousand times, deviate once. The good will be forgotten, much ado will be made about the bad." Secondly she spoke that if you do not take care of yourself, you will be suppressed by everyone. There is much truth in these words, truth that I have experienced in my own life. Mother always stressed that a wife is "like a lock to the house" and the man has to be strong and fearless, secure safety to the family, but the wife should be faithful to her husband and take care of and be responsible for the home. (f., 1923, EE444: 76)

The pattern how mother is remembered is generalised in a quote from a teacher's biography from the year 1990:

Ella Treffner: Woman - Mother is the carrier and keeper of the nation's morals, she is the pacemaker in the family, in society and the whole nation's way of thinking. It is the task of the woman to animate our culture (Helmi Mäelo). (13) (f., 1925, EE38: 100)

Father (or grandfather) teaches patriotism and being an Estonian through history and the symbols of the nation state. National patriotism, the idea of a nation state and independence is recalled more often in connection with the male members of the family:

All in all, my father was a real good man. He was good at work, could also relax, he respected the Estonian people and the state and the national blue, black and white flag, which was always hoisted on Victory Day and on state anniversaries in our yard. (f., 1926, EE515: 3)

I also remember something about grandpa. I was about 5-6 then. Granny sent me to take lunch to grandpa, to the field he was ploughing. I called him to the edge of the field, on the ditchbank, a cup of kvass in one hand, a small bundle with salted herring and bread in the other. Grandpa called me to him on the black earth. Sat beside the plough, ate the bread, the herring, put the herring on the ground and drank kvass…I felt sorry for grandpa, wanted to help him and hold the herring while he was eating bread and drinking kvass, but he said: "Earth is the colour of our flag, it gives us bread." - "But our flag is blue, too?" - "Blue is the colour of the sea, that is where I get the fish, the sky is also blue, the skylarks sing there." - "But white?" Grandpa thought. Then he suddenly patted on his heart with his large knobbly hand, saying: "But here it is beating!" Such dialogue between us remained in my soul for a long time, at that time I could not understand everything. (f., 1923, EE552: 9-10)

Billy Ehn has stated that in ethnic imagery masculine pictures are preferred, feminine elements do exist, but they are in minority (Hjerm 1998). Anderson, for example, uses the term 'fraternity' when speaking of nations (1983/1991: 7). Considering that ethnic identity is intertwined with gender identity, (14) it shows from the older Estonians' descriptions of 'patriotic' childhood how they understand the role of the genders in the education of the nation (and the citizen) and the development of the nation state. (15)

The remembrances about one's family, parents and close relatives also reveal the features attributed to the Estonian in the former period of Estonian independence (i.e. Estonian time). Definitely diligence and strive for self-determination is mentioned (buying one's own land or house or dreaming about it), also love for education and culture, which is expressed in the newspapers-magazines that are read and in musical activities. Important is love for one's land (also in the sense of patriotism) and a modest, natural way of life. The biography writers have a clear understanding of the national traits of character and - as they attribute similar traits to their generation - of solid national identity.


In conclusion

Childhood experience is in a central position in the national identity of older Estonians. Home farm or summers in the country, nature, the informal environment of the village and family make up the experiential basis of the national 'ideal community'. These are real experiences, which in the context of one's life story are extended more generally to the time and the society and represented as typical. As such, the childhood memories are also pictures of history, representing a collective, group-specific understanding of historical reality.

The childhood and youth memories of older Estonians are also reminiscences of the national independence period preceding the Second World War. The society of one's childhood in the independent country is depicted as egalitarian, based on mutual solidarity, assistance and respect. The metaphor of a proper nation state in the biographies is the farm. Farm 'husbandry' is regarded as the ideal model of functioning of both the state and private institutions. The Estonian of the pre-war Estonia (1920s-1930s) is in the biographies of the 1990s characterised by diligence and strive for self-determination, love for education and culture. Land and nature are the essential components of national identity for the older Estonians. National identity is intertwined with gender identity, which reveals in the distribution of roles: woman is the keeper of home and morals, man is the defender of national independence.

Memories of childhood and youth in the independent state of the 1920s-1930s were narrated in the national modernisation discourse, which actualised in the atmosphere of patriotic enthusiasm and restitution at the end of the 1980s - beginning of the 1990s. In the social-political development of the 1990s the discourse of the childhood national patriotism of older Estonians remained in the rear position, yet it functioned as the carrier of generation-specific values, on the basis of which the dialogue with the changing society could take place.

Translated by Ann Kuslap


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References from text:

(1) About the reminiscence and interpretation level see Alheit 1989, reference to the same Kõresaar 2001a: 49-53. Back

(2) In this context T. Jaago has emphasised the function of the heritage group: the emergence of tradition is directly dependent on the existence of the heritage group (the receiver) and it shaped according to its needs (Jaago 2001b). Back

(3) Between larger biography contests several smaller collections were organised, on a narrower topic: Women's Biographies (1995), Biographies about Love, Marriage and Sexuality (1996), Teacher, Tell Us about Your Life and Work (1998, under the project Life Stories of the Teachers of the Baltic Countries). One of the most popular projects in the 1990s was A Hundred Biographies of the Century (1999). Back

(4) I have used the term 'anthropological place' to analyse the category of the 'lost homeland' in the biographies of Estonians in exile (Kõresaar 2000). Back

(5) Cf. e.g. EE456: 3, EE519: 16-24, EE252: 3-4. Back

(6) Cf. e.g. EE850: 23, ENSV293: 1a, EE137: 1; EE602: 2-6; EE140. Back

(7) Analogues to this can be found in only a few memories of later times, for instance in the biographies of men who had been war prisoners and who find that their sufferings have not been adequately reflected by the official history. Back

(8) Considering the retrospection of biography, its tendency towards the present and the future, the impact of the restitution of land in 1990s on farm memories can be assumed. Back

(9) The detailed description of one's years of development is based on the belief that the atmosphere of one's childhood dominates his/her nature. For example, in a later biography written in 2000, a woman born in 1934 in western Estonia describes how the beautiful birch wood in her homeplace shaped her into "an emotional person with lyric temperament." (EE1075: 23) Back

(10) Here a remarkable difference from e.g. Swedish Estonians is revealed, who determined their identity as Estonians primarily by means of family relations, ethnic community and its traditions (idem). Back

(11) Work as 'a matter of honour' is a predominant knowledge gained from childhood. A socially divergent understanding is met rarely and indirectly, e.g. daughters as free labour force on the farm and disagreements between the parents or parents and children about farmwork and education (cf. e.g. EE8, EE264). The dream to study is mentioned, but father wanted farm hands at home: This Massu 6-class school remained the end of my education. But I must have got good education there. [---] My deskmate [---] continued studying, I wanted to, too, but father would not allow. [---] Father was generally understanding and smart, supported education, read newspapers and other reading, but it seems there was no chance for me to continue my studies. My elder sister had already gone to town. She wanted to get free from farmwork and earn her own living. I had to stay in place of her to do farmwork. We had no hired farmhands. [---] Economic situation must have not afforded. (f., 1923, EE554: 6) Back

(12) Emphasising that she originates from a farm the author especially sympathises with small farms today, because they are "more honest". Expressing her opinion of the right arrangement of the state, she only hopes "the government would understand country people" (EE868: 38). Back

(13) She (partially) quotes the part dedicated to Ella Treffner from Estonian Woman through Ages. The Role of a Woman in the Social and Ethnic Development of Estonia by H. Mäelo. Mäelo deals with E. Treffner's negative opinion of working mothers in her speech at the III Women's Congress in Tallinn in 1925. She says: "We see it in the first years of independence. No, our worldview must change, because the moral strength of the nation depends on the female sex. The woman is the pacemaker in the family, in society and the whole nation's way of thinking." (Mäelo 1999: 113). Back

(14) Cf. the outlines of the criticism of feminist representation analysed by Kivimaa (2001: 60-62), the construction of relations between the sexes in the 'fraternal' nation in Germany see e.g. Küster 2001. Back

(15) The effect of this conception on the state structure through interaction between generations see e.g. Jõesalu 2002. Back