Reply
Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Beth


Chatterbox wrote:

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.)


I like your insights about Beth, Chatterbox -- especially the parallels you draw between Beth and Tuck. What is it that makes Beth sympathetic where Tuck is not?

Inspired Contributor
drbjaded
Posts: 41
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

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?

 

Beth is a little weird.  She seems okay at times and other times she's unsure of herself.  She's also a little irresponsible with her encounters with Will and not satisfying her responsibilites with work.  She's unsure of herself because of her background and how she feels different from her friends because of where she lives.  She seems to be more happy with her relationship with Will although I didn't like that they just talked about the initial encounter and then BOOM they're engaged.  That was pretty fast on Will's part.  I think she wants a place to be protected and use Will like an umbrella.  It's just a really fast courtship.  I think Will is a strange person.  A bit eccentric and the impotent thing is strange as well.  I think Beth is a major character because she has more book time than the others.  I agree with others that the book was a hard read with flashing forward and flashing back.  Like the Beth/Will courtship.  I may have to go back and read the 5 chapters again. 

"You cannot love life until you live the life you love."
Inspired Contributor
mattzay
Posts: 65
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I am wondering if Joanna Rakoff wrote about Beth first because she seemed to be the one member of the group with the simplest problems. She was also one of the characters to be on the outside of the group. Sadie, Lil and Tal seem to be the heart of the group and appear to be the most complex of characters. Maybe that is why they come later.

 

Beth encountered problems that many young adults face. I know several people who have messed up their credits or forgotten to mail transcripts on time. One of them also lost a job offer because of it. It seems like a normal part of growing up and transitioning from youth to adulthood.

Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

What did you all think of Beth's  mother, Susan Bernstein? What do the passage told from Mrs. Bernstein's point of view, her thoughts on Beth and the wedding preparations, and the fact that Beth considers her mother to be her best friend all contribute to our understanding of Beth?
Reader
beetledriver2
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I really seemed to relate to Beth.  I use to live in New York and I know all so well the struggles that goes along with it.  Feeling out of place because you don't live in the right neighborhood, or have the right job, or enough money.  The day she began smoking again, I felt like I was sitting in her lonely apartment crying with her. 

 

She only missed Dave because she felt hopeless, in my opinion.  When you feel like you can't go any lower, you always want the ex back because you don't believe you can do any better, or no one will ever love you again!  When your miserable, everything that has gone wrong seems to come back to haunt you.

 

The sex scene with Will was so out of character for her.  I loved it!  Sometimes you just have to let go and jump!  I really didn't sense Will ever speaking to her again though.  I was so shocked to read Will and Beth were engaged.  I am hoping to read how that came to be later in the book. 

 

I was happy to read that Beth was still hanging out with the crowd.  I thought her self-loathing would keep her locked away in Queens.  Her relationship with Will has given her self-confidence that's for sure.  She seems so grown up, so sure of herself now (maybe too sure of herself).  So in love too.  She seems to be the sane, grounded friend now.  Sharing a Brooklyn apt. with her gorgeous, well-respected fiance.  Beth is definitely different now.  Seems that she has taken the reign from Lil.

[url=http://www.imhaven.com/][img]http://www.imhaven.com/forumsigs/kitty.jpg[/img][/url]
Inspired Correspondent
libralady
Posts: 159
Registered: ‎09-23-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I am still not sure whether I like Beth or not.  I think she, as others have said, seems to be more "real" than the others.  I think she is very insecure and she seems to always be weighing her actions on what the others in the group might think or do.  I think she is having a hard time moving into a different phase in her life.  It seems at times that she feels the others have move ahead and she is still trying to hold on to the past. I think she pursued a relationship with Will because she thought that she was somehow winning him away from Sadie.  (Initially, it seemed that is who he was interested in). As far as her keeping the relatioship a secret, I don't think she was really sure how the others felt about him and was unsure how they might "judge" the choice.  I do think she is using Will as a means to get over her relationship with Dave. 
"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
Wordsmith
marciliogq
Posts: 244
Registered: ‎02-22-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I have not too much information about Beth yet. But up to now she has shown that her problems are, really common ones. As most of the readers has told, she presents the simplest problems, such as a lose of a job or being insecure about love. Her irresponsability about the credits of PhD is something not so highlighted in the book. Why did she do that? She moved to another city, lost her job, is insecure about love, doesn't want any help of her parents and speaks curse-words about her hometown. I told in previous topics Beth was the character I most admired, but as my reading is on I think I have to rethink my point of view. I need to go on reading and be more detailist.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth


KxBurns wrote:
What did you all think of Beth's  mother, Susan Bernstein? What do the passage told from Mrs. Bernstein's point of view, her thoughts on Beth and the wedding preparations, and the fact that Beth considers her mother to be her best friend all contribute to our understanding of Beth?

 

On one hand, I think that it's great that young women today can consider their mother their best friend. On the other hand, I'm disturbed by that phenomenon. Many of today's young women depend on their mother's for the friendships that young women of earlier times, the 60's and before, depended on their girlfriends for. Beth strikes me as someone, who in spite of all of her accomplishments, is still seeking her mother approval. I saw this in her acquiescence to her mother when they were going over all of the wedding details. Beth is having a hard time letting go of her mother and growing up into an independent woman. I wonder just how much her mother had to do with that. There have been many articles written lately about parents who are way to involved in their adult children's lives. I believe they are referred to as "helicopter parents" because of their hoovering. I wondered if Rakoff was alluding to this and never got around to developing the theme.
Distinguished Correspondent
Shadowwolf36
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎09-16-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I find today's trend of being best friend with your daughter in their teenage years counter-productive. You forget that you need to be the parent and in the end, your child ends up running the relationship instead of the other way around.
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I made comments about Beth in each of the chapter groupings (1-5, 6-9, and 10-12) and now that I've finally finished the book I have to say the Beth seems to be robbed of her representation.

For example - my comments written for CH1-5 - the main chapters where she is featured takes up 3/4 of a page while I only have three-four lines for 6-9 and 10-12. 

Most of my comments from CH 1-5 are not positive.  I found her to be almost whiney.  It's the '90s and women have been on their own supporting themselves and there are roll models everywhere...so why is is so hard for her?  What's wrong with her?  Is she lazy?  Just not that bright?  Not motivated?  Or just looking for a man to take care of her.

I would have liked to see more of her relationship with Will - does he change from being sort of a deviant to a good husband and father?  How?  And what's with the sex scene?  Why is it necessary?  I have no complaints about the scene - just know that it should have a reason to be in the story.

In the chapters where she was focused upon - I found that I didn't like her and found no reason to care about her.

As I moved from the early chapters to the middle - my opinion on Beth's childishness does not change but is more solidified.  And when I met Dave - I thought they made a perfect boring couple.

As I finished up the book - I wondered why Beth was even a character in the book worthy of a few chapters in her perspective since she was barely mentioned in the later chapters.  If her character was eliminated from the story - nothing would change - so she's really not needed....

Susan

Contributor
brezi
Posts: 23
Registered: ‎04-11-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

While I felt that the character of Beth was a little more down-to-earth and relatable than the other characters, I was still confused by some of her behavior, such as when she has a sexual encounter with Will on their first date. The fact that Will's sexual dysfunction is brought up and never mentioned again was somewhat confusing as well. I just couldn't quite grasp why Beth married Will. Was it just so she wouldn't be alone? I liked Beth's character but felt like it could have been developed a lot more, especially toward the end of the book.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I think that it is precisely what Chatterbox observed. We get to go inside her mind. Tuck is someone that we see through other people and they are not predisposed to be kindly towards him. :smileyindifferent:

KxBurns wrote:

Chatterbox wrote:

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.)


I like your insights about Beth, Chatterbox -- especially the parallels you draw between Beth and Tuck. What is it that makes Beth sympathetic where Tuck is not?


 

Contributor
Jess_H
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎10-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

Beth was the one character who rang true to me. Her insecurities are believable. For me her anxieties are relatable. The author did a good job of relaying her feelings. I am pretty much of the same generation of the friends in this book. I had friends who had threads of Beth running through them.
Inspired Bibliophile
Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,276
Registered: ‎10-20-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Beth

I like the way you put that 'Threads of Beth running through them" its ageless .
Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer