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KomodoDragon
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎11-24-2008
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Re: Beth

It is hard not to sympathize with Beth.  I think we have all been in that situation where you are caught in quicksand and can't get out.  She worked hard but it seems her life just woudn't get in order.  Her encounter with Will was also interesting to me.  She was there because she was so ready to forget about Dave that she went with his polar opposite.  Again, it is hard not to view Beth's situation and not see some part of your life in there.  To me, she was the most realistic character in the novel.
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Rabid_Reader
Posts: 57
Registered: ‎11-11-2008
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Re: Beth

At first I wasn't very fond of Beth, she seemed so cynical compared to the other friends. Upon further reading though, she became one of my favorite characters. I was very suprised reading about her "encounter" with Will, because it seemed sudden and unexpected. I was disappointed with her decision to let this man she hardly knew have his way with her, but after thinking about it more I realized that she probably felt some sense of comfort in the fact that he was such good friends with Tuck. I also felt she needed to prove to herself that she was willing to try new and exciting things, because she was not yet over Dave nor did she understand his reasons for leaving her. I felt that things with Will and Beth progressed quickly, and I wish there was more about their budding relationship or even more showing an interaction between Beth and Will at all.
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Beth

Great comments, everyone! I agree with many of you that Beth seems to be floating through life a little carelessly at this point.

 

Shadowwolf36, I think you're right that Will offers Beth the security and solidity that Dave did not, but I also think her interest in him is reinforced by her inkling that he was originally after Sadie, and by Emily telling her that Lil may have liked him before she started seeing Tuck. This is another way in which he soothes her insecurities.   

 

Like Kiakar and many others, I was totally surprised that what seemed set up to be a one-time sexual tryst turned into a long-term relationship! How do you think Will's impotence or the backstory of Will's previous marriage, related by Emily in Chapter Three, influences this turn of events?

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Beth

krb2g writes:

The whole Will thing was also weird. I also found their first date off-putting, and then, as the wedding plans developed, I wanted more. Maybe I wasn't reading as closely as I could have been, but I didn't find an awful lot of resolution in the shopping day between Beth and her mother: I wasn't sure if she should marry Will or not at the end of it and I wasn't sure what she had decided either. 

debbook writes:

I really didn't like the first date between Will and Beth. And then to skip to their engagement with out seeing any development of their relationship and we really don't see much about the relationship at all in the book, at least nothing insightful. We see Beth torn between her love for an old boyfriend but she deals with it quickly and moves on. They get married and have a baby and then Beth seems to be at the peripheral for the rest of the story.


 

I'm glad you both brought this up. What do you think is the author's goal in putting Beth in the spotlight during this period in her life and then making the leap to a point where the conflict is resolved and Beth recedes more into the background? How does it serve the overall story? What can we infer about Beth, or about life in general, from the way her story develops?

JSS
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JSS
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Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Beth

 


What do you think is the author's goal in putting Beth in the spotlight during this period in her life and then making the leap to a point where the conflict is resolved and Beth recedes more into the background? How does it serve the overall story? What can we infer about Beth, or about life in general, from the way her story develops?


Rakoff appears to use "shock therapy" on the reader in the first part of her book. The opening wedding and in Beth's case the sexual encounter with Will. Her style seems to me to emulate life for most of us, post college. Lots of ups and downs & lots of experiences for which we have limited or no experience that allows us to make sound decisions. Additionally, after spending 16 years growing up in somewhat protected environments (home and college), experimenting with real life is natural. Some X-geners have referred to an initial quick post college marriage as a "test" marriage. In Beths's case, she seems to me to be ready to move forward with her life but is struggling to make that decision emotionally. She's unsure of herself but is pulled/drawn toward her unknown future with both trepidation and anticipation. Sounds like "normal" to me and that's how I feel about Beth...she's the most normal person in the book.

 

"I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth." Ayn Rand
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Shadowwolf36
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎09-16-2008
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Re: Beth


KxBurns wrote:

 

 

Like Kiakar and many others, I was totally surprised that what seemed set up to be a one-time sexual tryst turned into a long-term relationship! How do you think Will's impotence or the backstory of Will's previous marriage, related by Emily in Chapter Three, influences this turn of events?


This question started me wondering if perhaps his admission early on that he didn't "do obligations" was what got her to forge along with him. Either because it seemed that she would never really have him completely (which perhaps left her free for Dave when he was ready or setting herself up for disappointment again) or because she wanted to be the one to "fix" him. So many women set themselves up this way thinking they can change and/or fix their partners.  I also see your point that perhaps she allowed the tryst in order to one up Sadie and or Lil thinking that they always get what they want or whatnot.

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Beth

In discussing the first 5 chapters I revealed that Beth is my favorite character. I feel some relationship with her in that I see myself in her, she's vulnerable while also being strong. Sweet while not being afraid to try new things. And while I know a lot of you felt the sex scene between her and Will to be wrong, I didn't. I thought it showed how she went with her initial instinct to trust him. At this point I'm not sure I can answer the question about where she fits in the group.
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READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
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Re: Beth

Beth is coming across as ore of an observer than a participant in the earl;y chapters. She initially was able to go out on her own for her Masters but then seems incapable of setting any expectations or boundaries with Dave. She frustrates me !! Jane
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READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
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Re: Beth

I agree, good observation, Jane
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Grace2133
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Registered: ‎03-14-2008
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Re: Beth


kiakar wrote:

You are right, Grace. Did she think she couldn't do any better than someone weird and strange like Will? She did find out right away that he had a kid so he could have already been a jerk to someone else besides her.

 

 


Grace2133 wrote:

kiakar wrote:
It was quite a surprise when the date or encounter between Beth and Will meandered into a close relationship. I totally thought it was a first one night stand that someway she would regret. But I didn't write the story.

I think she will regret it someday when she is more mature. I think at this point in the story it is more of a curiousity. Also I think she is a bit too stupid to realize how dumb this "relationship"with Will is.

Message Edited by Grace2133 on 01-05-2009 02:48 PM

 


I think that she is happy that she is getting attention from someone. It doesn't matter how creepy and strange he is. She isn't confident enough in herself to think she is worth attention from a more worthy person.

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Chatterbox
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎11-28-2008
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Re: Beth

Several posters have noted that they feel Beth is the most "real" character in the book. I would agree -- but also note that she is really the only one whose mind we see inside for any length of time. We aren't just seeing her actions, but her thoughts about her actions, not only in the situation with Will, but in her own apartment, her reflections on her life, etc. So far, at least, we haven't had that kind of insight into any other character . (The closest we have come is the much smaller segment about Lil when she learns Tuck has been laid off.) (And generally, that is one of the reasons that so far I have found this a weak book -- we aren't learning enough about the personalities through the way the characters react to and discuss each other, and yet that lack isn't compensated for in any other way, with the exception of Beth.

 

I wasn't surprised that Beth has transformed her encounter with Will into a relationship. She showed in her meeting with Emily that she was fascinated by him. It is almost as if she is looking for something to anchor her to life -- work can't (because she has messed that up) and Dave can't/won't (she feels that has been messed up in some way) and her friends seem to have it together, in her eyes. So she begins to see Will as a solution of some sort. Can she parlay his own weaknesses, which she now knows of, into some kind of power for her? She allows everyone else's situation and needs to shape her personality.

 

While I found her the most 'revealed' of the characters, I certainly don't find her the most appealing in her need for validation from somewhere else and her willingness to allow her life to be defined almost by accidents of fate (failing to keep track of her credits, etc.). In some ways, I see a parallel between her and Tuck; Beth is angry & then unhappy because Gail Bronfman won't bend over backwards to help her; Tuck, meanwhile, has been lazy and careless in his own way at his job and transforms his failures -- grammatical errors, lateness and ultimately identifying a source who asks not to be identified -- into his boss's issue. "Tuck despised this woman ... who didn't ... get Boom Time at all." Then, in both cases, they turn to someone else to escape their self-made trap; Beth finds Will and hitches her wagon to his star (to use an appalling cliche, sorry...) while Tuck is 'organized' into writing a book. (It's telling to me that he didn't come up with this option himself, but allows himself to be steered into it.)

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debbook
Posts: 1,823
Registered: ‎05-03-2008
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Re: Beth


KxBurns wrote:

Great comments, everyone! I agree with many of you that Beth seems to be floating through life a little carelessly at this point.

 

Shadowwolf36, I think you're right that Will offers Beth the security and solidity that Dave did not, but I also think her interest in him is reinforced by her inkling that he was originally after Sadie, and by Emily telling her that Lil may have liked him before she started seeing Tuck. This is another way in which he soothes her insecurities.   

 

Like Kiakar and many others, I was totally surprised that what seemed set up to be a one-time sexual tryst turned into a long-term relationship! How do you think Will's impotence or the backstory of Will's previous marriage, related by Emily in Chapter Three, influences this turn of events?


 

When we first meet Will he seems like the type of guy that someone like Beth tries to make a relationship with but is unsuccessful, and then she moves on and looks for men with beter qualities. that's where i thought the story would go and that made it all the more surprising that they marry, especially as we don't see the development of the relationship. I found this very odd.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
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EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Beth


KxBurns wrote:
What are your thoughts about Beth? How do Beth's insecurity, difficulty attaining her educational and career goals, and struggle to come to terms with the end of her relationship with Dave provide the reader with insight into this character? How does her initial "encounter" and subsequent relationship with Will Chase change her? What is Beth's function as a member of the group?

 

To me, Beth's seems like she's in the group but not really part of the group. 
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pandy914
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Beth

I agree that Beth's character seems typical, not only of her generation, but of her age range, as well.  As far as her relationship with Will is concerned, I don't think we've seen enough of its evolution at this point, to be able to judge its effect on her.  My gut instinct is that, despite the engagement announcement, this relationship is not as serious as it appears.  However, only time will tell....
"Do not pity the dead...Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love."
--J. K. Rowling, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
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mapleann
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Beth


Grace2133 wrote:

kiakar wrote:

You are right, Grace. Did she think she couldn't do any better than someone weird and strange like Will? She did find out right away that he had a kid so he could have already been a jerk to someone else besides her.

 

 


Grace2133 wrote:

kiakar wrote:
It was quite a surprise when the date or encounter between Beth and Will meandered into a close relationship. I totally thought it was a first one night stand that someway she would regret. But I didn't write the story.

I think she will regret it someday when she is more mature. I think at this point in the story it is more of a curiousity. Also I think she is a bit too stupid to realize how dumb this "relationship"with Will is.

Message Edited by Grace2133 on 01-05-2009 02:48 PM

 


I think that she is happy that she is getting attention from someone. It doesn't matter how creepy and strange he is. She isn't confident enough in herself to think she is worth attention from a more worthy person.


I believe that there is such a mixture is this relationship with Will. I see Will as a representation of life to Beth. Risks must be taken, and she wanted to take risks. I am like a couple of other viewers that were not turned off by the scene.

 

Wasn't it the nonconformity of Will that intrigued Beth, such as the olive green suit? The sexist talk, how knowledgable he was in her interests of literature and culture while balancing it with working in a lucrative and stable position at the Wall Stree Journal, and how he made her flustered and question herself. His witicism, his interenst in her.

 

What I thought was interesting was that Will introduced himself to her, but she never told him her name. When Beth said she was tired and ready to go home, He said, "Be strong, Beth Bernstein, there is liquor to be drunk." (p.22). Could it be that is appeared interest in Sadie, someone he already knew, was him mirroring Beth's interest in her? Could it have been a conversation starter. Doesn't a person intentionally make another jealous. When he walks away from Beth, towards Sadie's direction, we never see Sadie around him. Hmmm.

 

So the bar had been set. I couldn't imagine such a boring missionary one night stand with someone so intriguing as Will. Plus it was a wedding night, wedding are notorious for the guest to "hook up". It would have never fit the story if their "meeting" was boring. To lean on the topic of other boards, how adult like and conventional it would have been. So the two insecurities of both Beth and Will played in their sexual romance. What a risk for both of them, not just Beth. This was an instant bond between them, but was still fragile. I like many other readers would have liked to see this dichotomous bond revealed further. I do see the attraction, and the long term benefits, on both sides though. Magnatism and living life to its fullest was or driving forces, sensibility would have ruined the whole moment.

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ccshealy
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎11-24-2008
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Re: Beth

A Fortunate Age is overflowing with overt and subtle references to postmodern culture and postmodernist literature, and I read Beth as yet another symbol of postmodernism.  For me, Beth really represented the instability of the postmodern world.  She feels like there are no absolutes and that everything--and everyone--around her is constantly shifting, and this compounds the insecurity that she feels.  Ironically, Beth in her insecurity is a perfect reflection of her postmodernist education.
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booksandletters
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎12-08-2008
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Re: Beth

I think Beth is the most immature of the group.  I say that because I see her  still very insecure (almost like a teenager), seems at times overwhelmed with situations,  and does not seem to know yet what she truly wants in life.  I don't dislike her character.  I think there are pieces of her or of her actions that we can all relate to.
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olivialove
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Beth

The first thing that really stood out to me about Beth was when she said people grow on her.  That she didn't even like Dave at first, in fact she didn't like any of her friends at first except for Sadie, she'd been skeptical of them until they "won" her over.

 

She realizes she is "incapable of trusting her own instincts" and even in Wills apartment is thinking about how she doesn't know him, doesn't even like him, and yet she listens to all of his ridiculous comands and obeys them.   Who does stuff like that?  I mean, really?  I understand she is young, and I can understand a fling or one night stand after a drunk night at a club or something.  But that was not the case.  To me, it just seemed like she clung on to the first guy who came along who showed the slightest interest in her hoping she would like him, and hoping he would be what Dave failed to be.

 

I do however, think Will grows on her, wins her over, and may even be a decent guy (I am only mid way through the book so I am not too sure about him yet).  I think he is a step up from self-absorbed, arrogant, spoiled Dave and was frustrated in a later chapter where she is crying to her mom about her lingering love for Dave.

That is another thing.  This girl cries so much!  She is so sensitive.  I can't really relate to or understand that.

 

 

I think she is incredibly insecure and that fuels a dependency on male prescence in her life.  She overlooks too many things and endures unacceptable treatment from men because she is afraid of being alone.  I am only on page 200 though so maybe Beth will surprise me and change my views on her...

 

 

 

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insightful
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Beth

I have to say at first I did not like Beth's character because it just showed her insecure side of her.  She was unsure of a lot of things, her career, Will, Dave.  It was just to much to be undecided about.  But when she finally decided to marry Will and get her life somewhat together then I felt at the end she was probably one that was okay with the way things turned out. 

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Darbys_Closet
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎11-30-2008
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Re: Beth

Beth's actions with Will on his futton, surprised me.  Each time he tied her up I expected him to do something dangerous and I could almost feel her anxiety.  I loved it when she yelled at him and when she returned from the bathroom, Will was acting like they had never met...pretty smooth on his part.  I think at the end of this chapter Beth is coming to terms with herself, by stating that she will come over to Will's flat and she will date others and....it is like she has taken flight, a new found independence.

 

I do have questions about Will's "performance"....does anyone know if what occurred, is typical?

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