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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Happiness

Some of Messud’s characters begin the novel in a state of happiness and others attain it, but nearly all of them see their happiness threatened or even shattered. How does this come about? Which of them is the victim of outside forces and which is responsible for his or her fall? How would you describe this novel’s vision of happiness? Considering that the typical comedy has a happy (or happy-ish) ending, what do you make of the fact that so many of Messud’s characters end up bereft or disappointed?
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Happiness -- SPOILER

[ Edited ]
Ought you put "SPOILER" on this thread? I just did.

Other than this comment, an outstanding set-up, Rachel. I look forward to the contributions!

Message Edited by Peppermill on 10-04-2007 04:49 PM
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Walrus
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎09-28-2007
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Re: Happiness -- SPOILER

Dear Peppermill, Cordell, Fozzie, Ibis, bobzyeruncle and Katelyn and of course Clair M. Thank you for endless discussions and silent debate. It reminded me of long ago college term papers when everyone was trying to milk every meaning possible out of every sentence. In the end the characters are their own- no one really knows what they are thinking or what anyone is really thinking. We react to actions. We do not know pretensions. In a way we are all emperors wearing clothes and hopefully no one will realize we are really naked. That unforunately is life and we all know it or come to realize it with age. When asked once for a meaningful quote I mentioned "Youth is wasted on the Young". I hope I have not forgotten it correctly, but it seems right. Very few people understand it when they are young, but time does fly and before you know it you are pushing 60 or 70 and friends are dying. (Let alone those who died on 9/11) We hope for a better life for our children and grandchildren - history is terrible and has a tendency to repeat. I will enjoy reading any future novels and will search out past novels if I am lucky to be around a few more years.
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IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Re: Happiness -- SPOILER

Walrus, I enjoyed your posts! I hope you join many other discussions!
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Happiness

A word that I don't remember encountering before:

eudaemonism

Main Entry: eu•dae•mo•nism
Pronunciation: \yü-ˈdē-mə-ˌni-zəm\
Variant(s): or eu•dai•mo•nism \-ˈdī-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek eudaimonia happiness, from eudaimōn having a good attendant spirit, happy, from eu- + daimōn spirit — more at demon
Date: 1827

: a theory that the highest ethical goal is happiness and personal well-being

From m-w.com
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Pat_T
Posts: 27
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: Happiness

rkubie wrote:
Some of Messud's characters begin the novel in a state of happiness and others attain it, but nearly all of them see their happiness threatened or even shattered. How does this come about? Which of them is the victim of outside forces and which is responsible for his or her fall? How would you describe this novel's vision of happiness? Considering that the typical comedy has a happy (or happy-ish) ending, what do you make of the fact that so many of Messud's characters end up bereft or disappointed?



By the end of the novel, most, if not all of the characters have been greatly changed by personal setbacks and the events of 9/11. Althought the book takes place in a 9 month period, all of the characters seem much more mature by the last chapter. Each has persued something he or she though would bring happiness but were disappointed. I would argue that none of the characters start in a state of happiness, and the main characters do bring about their own problems by chasing after happiness outside of themselves- either in other people and/or in their careers. All are disappointed, but that leads them to a more realistic and mature view of what can bring happiness, and that brings hope by the ending of the book. Marina has finished her book, and has a new sense of confidence not based on her father's opinion of her, and a more realistic view of marriage. Julius is more sober, more cynical; through the healing of his scars and being constantly reminded of what had happened to him he says, "... and then, I think, eventually you get changed , from the outside in, and you have to absorb it, somehow.(page 451) Both Danielle and Bootie leave New York, and move toward facing life on their own terms- Danielle decides New York is her home and returns there to start fresh. Bootie, with a new name and new identity, becomes a person in motion looking to "take them by surprise." So, I would say by the end of the novel, the characters are closer to a more mature and perhaps lasting happiness.
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