Characters in Depth:
Johann Goff

First Trilogy
All Manor of Yarns

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  I. Prussian Yarns

 II. A Stitch in Time

III. Tinctures & Tantrums

Second Trilogy
The Snow Queen and
The Caterpillar

IV. There is a Season
 V. Viennese Yarns
VI. Orchids

Third Trilogy
Taffeta Tales

 VII. British Yarns
VIII. Polish Yarns
  IX. Threads of Strife

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Johann Goff is Otto’s older brother, the third son of Walther and Elisabeth von Goff.  Although the boys were only two years apart, they lived very different boyhoods.  The sister immediately before Johann, Elisabeth, was born deaf, dumb, and blind.  Until Otto was born, Johann had been pampered and treasured to compensate their mother for her sorrow over Elisabeth.  Upon the birth of a healthy son two years after Johann, Johann was introduced to normal nursery life and went on to live the usual life of a younger son in a Junker estate.

The babies following Otto were lost, so he continued to be their Mama’s pet until he was 9 years old, when their youngest sister was born.  Johann and Otto were very close when they were little boys, until Johann was sent off to school at the age of 8.  It never occurred to the boys that Otto would not follow, but when Otto remained at home with tutors after he had turned 8, Johann’s loneliness created a hollow inside him that he spent the rest of his life trying to fill.

Otto not only remained at home instead of being sent off to school but he was also kept in skirts and curls long after young boys were normally given manly haircuts and put into short pants.  Otto and Johann’s older brothers bullied and tormented their youngest brother, afraid that he would grow up to be a sissy.  Johann joined in the taunting and beatings in order to prevent being included as a victim, but he crept in beside Otto afterwards to try to comfort him.  This experience developed in Johann a keen awareness for the underdog, which slowly grew into a desire and need to do something for the less fortunate in Prussia.

The beatings were sometimes severe enough to crack ribs, leaving Otto to return to the nursery ashen faced and gasping.  None of the boys ever admitted to the bullying, so their mother decided that there was something wrong with Otto, that he wasn’t strong enough to go to school, so he was kept home until he was 12 years old.

By that time Johann was 14, and well on the way towards the career his father had chosen for him, politics.  Johann believed he could do something for the less fortunate of the land through politics, so he embraced his future whole-heartedly until he was well into it.

Johann’s disillusionment with politics didn’t set in until he’d been working for some years.  It was the revolution that showed him that he had no effect on the system.  His father, Walther, had died in the epidemic 2 years before the revolution, making his oldest brother, Werner, the head of the family.  Werner married their youngest sister off to a politician, a colleague of Johann’s before the poor child was out of the nursery, then put their handicapped sister out of the manor house.  These two acts went so much against Johann’s ethics, that it caused a permanent rupture for him from his family’s expectations.  He sought to fill the gap inside himself with religion, abruptly left politics and joined a monastery, dedicating his life to helping the unfortunate.

Through the orphanage and school run by the monks in Stettin, Johann found many young people in need of work who suited Otto’s needs at Schönwald.  Although most of them were hired away from Schönwald once they’d proved themselves trustworthy and well trained, many of Otto’s most important staff came from Johann, such as Otto’s valet, Ernst Lenz; Luise’s companion/maid, Kirsten Morgan; Luise’s governess, Amalie Braun; and Luise’s tutor, Erich Schultz.

Although celibacy was not mandated for Lutheran monks, Johann took a vow of celibacy as part of his turn away from the outside world, into the world of dedication to the works of God.  The only one outside of the monastery to whom he remained close was his brother, Otto.  He spent the rest of his life trying lovingly to guide Otto towards a more spiritual view of the world, believing that Otto would find the happiness that he had found if he would put himself right with God.


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