02-17-2009 04:07 PM
thewanderingjew wrote:I actually have a real twin brother. Growing up, he was the kid who got sand kicked in his face at the beach, the skinny kid that ads for muscle building tried to attract. Of course he had the gorgeous eye lashes and the beautiful wavy hair. My claim to fame was that I was bigger so I protected him. I never wanted to be separated from him. We were in classes together. Each of us blazed trails for the other, making it easier for us to adjust to all new situations. Even as teenagers we were very close. As we got older, he got stronger and he watched over me as I used to watch over him.I realized reading the book, that although Reggie and Benji were not twins, they were so close in age they might just as well have been, but they felt constrained by always being identified with the other. Benji, especially, wanted to become his own person. I wonder if it is because they were the same sex. Would it have been that way if one was a boy and one was a girl like my brother and I?Benji wants to become his own person but it seems like you have to light a fire under him before he actually attempts to take responsibility. Reggie seems to be more mature. He already has a job while Benji is still scrounging for food and has no money because it has run out. He is just beginning to realize that he has to work sooner or later. Benji is enthralled with the idea of his summer vacation. He seems more fanciful. Are his parents trying to make both brothers more responsible by having them deal with the realities of providing for themselves? Is that why they come out infrequently?twj
Can you tell ways in which each of the boys is trying to reinvent himself at the start of another Sag Harbor summer?
This is my first experience talking about a book in this manner. I want to say that I have not finished the book, but am enjoying it and the discussion very much. So far most of my posts (maybe all) have been in response to something someone else has read. I hope that is alright.
Several of you have already talked about the ways in which the boys try to separate themselves early in the book. I am not sure that I would say that Reggie is more mature, he is just more willing to take risks. The author has stated several times through Ben that he is unsure of who he is and feels like he doesn't fit it. Given that state of mind it would be difficult to just jump out there with changes and take that kind of a risk. But I see Ben questioning who his friends are, who he is, trying to sort out who he wants to become.
Frequently significant age/school changes are a time when young people try to make changes. I know a coworker who went from being Jenny to Jennifer when she got her first job, thinking it made her sound more adult. There are some names that I think society links to younger people or older people.
02-17-2009 05:30 PM
I have a Benjamin also, who we called Benji when he was little. When he was about 6 years old he came home from school one day and announced that he didnt want to be called Benji any more, it was Ben. He always wanted to grow up too fast. So to me the character in the book was finally deciding he wanted to be grown up. Dont most people grow out of their baby names eventually?
People always tried to think of a nickname for me, but nothing ever stuck. I think I always waited for someone else to think of a nickname for me. I have a name that is hard to pronounce and hard to spell. I just never could imagine just popping up one day and deciding I wanted to be something else.
02-17-2009 06:20 PM
My two younger sisters are ten months apart and they are a bit like Ben and Reggie. The youngest sister is more outgoing and more likely to take charge of a situation. When they were in school they hung out with the same group of friends, although they had different best friends in the group.
Like Reggie deciding he was too old to be riding his old bike, each of the brothers is starting to mature, but at his own pace. It does seem that Reggie is maturing faster than Ben(ji).
When I was very young I would change my name on a daily basis and refuse to answer to my real name. However, the names I chose had nothing in common with my real name.
02-17-2009 09:59 PM
Puberty is what finally starts the separation between Ben and Reggie.
Ben grows tall and skinny, and Reggie stays shorter and rounder. Perhaps its the less desirable physical traits in Reggie that cause him to be more concerned with material posessions, physical attractiveness, and the gumption to get a job. Reggie may see himself as the caregiver due to his roles so far.
I never had a nick name, if anything people try to make my name longer, because they automatically assume my name is the shortened version of a "real" name.
As a girl, the only thing that is quasi-nick name-ish is how I am treated due to my height. When you are petite, people have this uncanny, annoying habit of constantly reminding you of how short, little, petite, and "cute" you are. And it never ends with age. As if one needs a reminder that others tower over you. I think Reggie is very lucky that he is not a girl in this story, or he would have ever more social teasing to contend with.
02-17-2009 11:53 PM
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
02-18-2009 09:36 AM
Okay I'm almost finished about 30 pages to go, so I think I can finish my answer now:
I'ts funny to me how Ben never took, he's still Benji. And he and Reggie definitely grew apart during this summer, but when it came right down to it, they were closer than ever when it really mattered, like with the gun fight.
Since my given name is Deborah I've never had a problem with being called Debbie or Deb, thankfully I've never had to outgrow an embarrassing nickname from childhood.
02-18-2009 10:25 AM
02-18-2009 11:15 AM
Yes, I think you're right--it's more a boy thing with the diminutive-sounding -ie or -y endings. So it becomes a show of masculinity to drop those endings. Those endings go along with cheek-pinching by elderly aunts! <grin>
02-18-2009 06:53 PM
02-18-2009 07:48 PM
At the start of the summer, Benji decides he wants to be Ben instead of Benji. Unfortunately for him, the new name doesn't seem to have stuck. Even I have a hard time thinking of him as anything but Benji. Reggie seems to want to act cooler, maybe more mature by choosing to walk with NP down to the beach instead of riding his bike with Benji. The two boys end up leaving Benji behind saying they'll met up with him later. I could feel Benji's hurt as he "looked to Reggie for backup. He was looking down at his sneakers." Reggie appears to be outgrowing Benji faster than the other way around.
02-18-2009 09:48 PM
It's a coming of age ritual. How many grown men do we know with little boy names? My bosses name is Bob. I cant picture a man with authority being called Bobby. My brother hasnt been Jimmy since he was a little boy. But what about Reggie. For some reason Reggie would be an acceptable man's name. Or Randy would be acceptable for a grown man. Go figure!
02-18-2009 10:29 PM
My parents called me "Pumpkin", not really sure why and I don't know how it started. They didn't call me it out of the house though. It was only around family, never my friends.
When I was younger everyone called me Jennifer (which is my full name), but I decided around the age of 12 that I wanted to be called Jen. This was a huge upset with my parents (especially my mother) but eventually it caught on with my friends and new people I met. My family still calls me Jennifer, but everyone else knows me as Jen.
So for me it wasn't so much a nickname I didn't want to be called anymore, it was a nickname I wanted to be called.
"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
02-19-2009 01:25 AM
Hi rkubie--I had a nickname attached to me in my early teens and it is still with me. I wouldn't be surprised if it was in my obit..
If someone called my home and asked for me by my nickname my father said, "Wrong number" and hung up. He still feels the same over 40 years later.
02-19-2009 01:54 AM
I just received Sag Harbor and started reading, so my opinions here are beginning.
Benji going to a different school gave him an identity of his own. He really noticed it while watching Reggie bleach his shoes white.
Benji becoming Ben was a definite, I am my own self, and they became brothers with their own personalities.
I look forward to reading further, just didn't want to get to far behind in discussions.
02-19-2009 08:47 AM
Quote, "There was something in the human DNA that compelled people to say "Benji 'n Reggie, Benji 'n Reggie" in a singsong way, as if we were cartoon characters or mascots of some twenty-five cent candy." (page 3)
I guess the first step to becoming his own person and separate from Reggie, was to be called Ben, even though it didn't really stick. Although Reggie, even being younger, seemed to pull apart first.
Plus on top of that, as stated in other posts, what grown man wants to be called Benji? Reggie ok but Benji, not.
On another note, my nickname is something I've had all my life and it's not embarasing. In fact, I tell people until I started school, I didn't know I had another, "legal" name. To this day, I'm still called by my nickname and lots of time when introduced, it's the name I give. Some family members have forgotten what my "real" name is
02-19-2009 01:14 PM
Benji n' Reggie are only 10 months apart in age. Benji was tall and thin, and Reggie was chubby. Naturally they spent their younger life acting like twins, which they didn't mind until now. Now they are in high school and want their own identity. Reggie has his new shoes that he meticulously cares for, which he learned from a friend. And now Benji wants to be called Ben. They are by themselves in Sag Harbor, so they took jobs to help pay for the extra food on their grocery bill. They took jobs at different places, but they still have the same friends and choose to hang out with eachother.
02-19-2009 06:13 PM
02-19-2009 07:36 PM - edited 02-19-2009 07:37 PM
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
02-19-2009 08:26 PM
There is a paragraph at the end of page 2 that says it all about Benjie and Reggie. "We had recently ceased to be twins. We were born ten minutes apart and until I went to high school we came as a matched set, more Sianese than fraternal or identical, defined by an uncanny inseparability. Joined not at the hip or spleen or nervous system but at that more important place----that spot on yourself where you meet the world." Even though they are still a matched set they now have a place on themselves that goes out on it's own. They must branch out and be separate individuals. Yvonne
Thank you for posting this quote. I agree that it says a lot about the connection between these two brothers.
02-20-2009 11:04 AM