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Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Hey X-Tempo. On page 36, there are a number of things going on at once, but one of them is a middle aged white couple walking together on the beach, and seeming to realize they are out of place, and turning back, while Benji and his friends watch with binoculars and talk about "trespassing."

 

"They rarely made it past the rock. The rock was  a few houses down from ours, and a powerful psychological meridian." And then goes on to catalog the psychological geography of this small community.

 

You're asking interesting questions, if I'm understanding you correctly. These kids live most of the year in a world in which they are visibly and culturally alien. They have three months of the year when they live in a homogeneous community, that feels set apart from their ordinary lives. Is it questionable to want to protect the relief that this temporary homogeneity provides? Is "segregation," with it's moral indictment, the same for a "minority" or a member of a cultural majority?

 

Certainly, their white peers experience this sense of comfortable homogeneity as the normal course of a day.

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x-tempo
Posts: 102
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag


rkubie wrote:

Hey X-Tempo. On page 36, there are a number of things going on at once, but one of them is a middle aged white couple walking together on the beach, and seeming to realize they are out of place, and turning back, while Benji and his friends watch with binoculars and talk about "trespassing."

 

"They rarely made it past the rock. The rock was  a few houses down from ours, and a powerful psychological meridian." And then goes on to catalog the psychological geography of this small community.

 

You're asking interesting questions, if I'm understanding you correctly. These kids live most of the year in a world in which they are visibly and culturally alien. They have three months of the year when they live in a homogeneous community, that feels set apart from their ordinary lives. Is it questionable to want to protect the relief that this temporary homogeneity provides? Is "segregation," with it's moral indictment, the same for a "minority" or a member of a cultural majority?

 

Certainly, their white peers experience this sense of comfortable homogeneity as the normal course of a day.


Rachel, I hear what you're saying, but I still don't see the word "trespassing" on p. 36. I want to know if it's legally trespassing for white people (or Japanese or Indian or any other "people" who don't live there) to walk on the beach and if it is, why can't the residents just put up a sign saying No Trespassing? Otherwise, how are people expected to know?
 
Are there rules about who the residents can invite as guests? If President Obama had bought a house there would some of his relatives have been allowed to spend the summer or even visit? These are practical questions I'm asking.
 
You say that "these kids live most of the year in a world in which they are visibly and culturally alien." They're visibly different, which I would think might be difficult for a young child, but I'm sure they're accepted. And after all, isn't what school they attend their parents's responsibility? "Culturally alien" I totally reject.
You may not have thought about self-segregation but it does exist, although admittedly, it doesn't apply to children. 
 
Anyway, on another note, one of the most interesting things in this chapter is on p. 57-58 where the narrator explains the various strategies for masking social class, through militant rhetoric and posturing. That part is very true. 
  
 
 
 
 
  

 

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libralady
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Registered: ‎09-23-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

"That's trespassing," NP said.  p.34

 

I dont think he meant trespassing in the legal sense.  The boys had claimed this stretch of the beach as theirs.  So "outsiders" or "intruders" (White people) were seen as trespassing . On p. 35, Bobby said of the middle aged couple, "We should go down there and tell them to get off our beach."  The beach was not really theirs, but they had claimed ownership and were selfish about it. 

"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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chris227
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Unfortunately I think that there are still racial barriers today, however, I don't think that they are physical barriers like a rock but more perceptions and emotional barriers. 

 

I do remember "dag" and "sike" and a little more recently "not" and "whatever."  These are just words that the younger generation uses to separate themselves from the older generations.  Thining back I think most people would probably think that all these slang words were really pretty silly.

 

The talk of the handshakes is just the boys trying to show that they are part of the group.  These boys don't see each other for 9 months at a clip and then all of a sudden are thrown back together and again become a close knit group for 3 months.  The handshake is to signify that they have something that they all share, but, in reality it just shows how separate they really are because no one can ever get the handshake right.

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computerblonde
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Registered: ‎01-27-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Where I live, the racial barrier has not moved.  My husband and I fight about it constantly actually.  I can't wait to move to the city, but at the moment this area has the best school for my son who is Autistic.. IF I can deal with the racial ignorance around me.

 

I'm a city girl, who's moved to the country in the midwest.  It can be a scary place for anyone not of the same culture around.  Very blue eyed and caucasion.  

 

We have a few children of mixed race in the community, that the kids in the class already know their parents prejudice.  Comments about kids not accepting isn't true at all.  If it is taught at an early age, the children of course learn the difference.  What children are allowed to be over for playdates, etc.

 

 In this story, the parents sent the children into schools to help them succeed. However, it doesn't mean they were accepted as the true person. They had to turn into a "prep school" persona.

 

Racially, I believe it is WAY better then it was 40 years ago, however, there are still bubbles all around.  I can understand the whole trespassing comments when a child had to hide who they were for most of the year. Listening to what their parents talk about.   Sag was an area they could be free and stop pretending.   Freedom from social stress, or so in Benji's way.

 

The handshake is the bond of the group.   The children feel conected after their prepschool moments.  They can be themselves at Sag.  

 

The sayings remind of me of the sayings from the past.  I know them, or read them in past books.  

 

The whole car situation is power.  An older child wanting power or to feel he belongs.  Shotgun was done buy the second individual in power.  

 

 

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jpohedra
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Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

What role does the handshake play in Benji's crowd?

 

The handshake seems to symbolize where people are coming from (geographically) and who is "in the know" and who isn't.  It seems like each member of the group has their own special handshake derived from the school they attend and/or the group of friends they hang out with during the 9 months they are not living in Sag Harbor.  When the group comes together for the summer they each have seem to have their own handshake; never seeming to jive with the person with whom they are shaking hands with but always somehow seeming to come together at the end of the shake so that both handshakes end at the same time.  It seems like each member is good at one particular kind of shake, probably the one used most during the school year, and these handshakes are recognized by other members of the group and even have names.  It seems like you need to know specific handshakes to be considered "in the know" about what is currently "in" or "cool" and knowing those handshakes symbolizes your "coolness" within the group.

~Jennifer~
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dreyslibrary
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Registered: ‎01-28-2009
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

vivico1 ~ That was an awesome concept!  :smileyhappy:

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Jennd1
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

The town I live in has a few black areas.  I don't know how it got that way.  I remember the huge amount of slang we had and the nicknames we had for each other.  And yes we had that language of our own which I had a fond rememberance of while I was reading.
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libralady
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Registered: ‎09-23-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I think the handshake(s) identify which members of the group are considered "cool" or "street smart".  Whoever has mastered the latest handshake is the envy of the rest of the group.  Benji does not seem to ever master the handshakes.  But at the end of the this chapter, he comes to realize that most of the group is faking when it comes to knowing the handshakes. 
"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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biljounc63
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Just think if the book was staged today not only would there be the handshake and nicknames to condent with there would be the world of cell phones and text message lingo to master. I'm sure that all would need to have cell phones to be considered "in".
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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JAmber
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

Wow! We moved from California to Texas and I swear we went back in time. Someone carved a swastika into a bathroom stall at Lowes. People!

 

Anyway I grew up hanging out with boys. Of course we had our own language. We saw everything, and if we didn't, we heard about it and then you heard about it. I appreciate their insults, because I remember acting like that. If something was different and you were trying to get noticed, we noticed all right and clowned you. All in fun, we never wanted to hurt anyone or make anyone selfconscious. We were just noticing. I think adults are still trying to find themselves. They might have something started, but I think we spend our whole life trying to define ourselves. And how can we expect the people around us not comment on it.

 

NP always seems to be the one doling out the insults. And poor Marcus is usually the victim. The handshakes are like riddles or puzzles. As soon as you figured out the lastest and greatest, here comes a new handshake to learn. The dispute of who was riding in the car was settled by figuring out who rode last.

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PinkBaby
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Registered: ‎09-03-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

well im thinkin about benji and reggies dad. i dont think he liked white people very much. he would say stupid white people did this or they did that. i guess because white people have said so much of that to black people. plus  i would think the one character would not wanted to be called NP considering what it stood for.
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maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

This first section of the book is all about fitting in. I think that it is the most important thing in an adolesants life. I was not the most popular girl in high school when I was growing up and I remember fitting in with the crowd being of the utmost impotance to me. Yvonne
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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008

Re: The Heyday of Dag

I love how slang spreads. The first time I heard "hoodie" was from a witness when I was a juror on a criminal trial. A few years later, there it was in the Lands End catalog.
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detailmuse
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Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag


libralady wrote:
I think racial barriers still exist at some level, although I think they may be more perceived than real, but I feel they still exist.

That perception aspect struck me in the “Yes, something is off, let’s head back” passage. It's possible that the “something” wasn't prejudice -- that “everyone was brown” -- but was instead the palpable mentality against the beach-walking intruders, manifested as (p36) “we made noises of outrage” and “black eyes glared down from the beach houses, the lookouts on the decks of our armada.” Wasn't it treatment, not skin color, that felt off and made people turn around?

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IBIS
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Registered: ‎11-22-2006
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Barriers: racial and cultural

The self-segregation of both racial communities seems to more than solely racial. I would argue that the barriers are cultural as well.

 

Growing up as an Cambodian Buddhist immigrant in Boston, I saw that our Buddhist community was self-segregated. But that was also true of other religious communities…Catholic communities lived near catholic churches, Protestant ones next to protestant churches, and Jews next to temples, and so on.  I knew I was in a catholic area because women still wore veils to church, and in a Jewish communities because the men wore yarmulkes.

 

I found that people, of whatever color or cultural background, self-segregate. It’s a barometer of their personal comfort level… in both racial and cultural preferencesl.

IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007

Re: The Heyday of Dag


computerblonde wrote:

Where I live, the racial barrier has not moved.  My husband and I fight about it constantly actually.  I can't wait to move to the city, but at the moment this area has the best school for my son who is Autistic.. IF I can deal with the racial ignorance around me.

 

I'm a city girl, who's moved to the country in the midwest.  It can be a scary place for anyone not of the same culture around.  Very blue eyed and caucasion.  

 

We have a few children of mixed race in the community, that the kids in the class already know their parents prejudice.  Comments about kids not accepting isn't true at all.  If it is taught at an early age, the children of course learn the difference.  What children are allowed to be over for playdates, etc.

 

 In this story, the parents sent the children into schools to help them succeed. However, it doesn't mean they were accepted as the true person. They had to turn into a "prep school" persona.

 

 


I wonder what you'd think about someone writing "It can be a scary place for anyone not of the same culture.  Very kinky haired and African."    I hope you meant to say "challenging place" or "boring, one-dimensional place."  

 

The younger generations are definitely growing up, going to college, and working in a less color conscious way.  Interracial dating is increasingly common and no one looks upon such a couple with surprise anymore.   Children's classrooms, teams, Scout troops, and church outings include kids of various ethnic backgrounds.  A couple of years ago a good friend of mine who is black told me that he wanted his 17 year old grandson to come and spend a summer with him and his wife.  "He's grown up in this mixed neighborhood in California," my friend told me.  "He hangs out with kids of all races.  And he doesn't know that he's a black man!"   My friend was concerned that the youngster would not be prepared for the prejudice that he might encounter elsewhere, and that could put him in danger.  But younger people dismissed that idea as too limiting.  They want and expect to be free to socialize and compete with their peers of whatever race. 

 

Finally, it's odd to think that a person is only his "true person" at an age before he would go to prep school.  Almost everyone who goes to prep school takes on a prep school persona, if that means a way of understanding appropriate dress for certain occasions, an appreciation of the arts and literature, an exposure to higher math and challenging science classes, and so forth.  It's an environment that is meant to 'change' you, polish you, broaden you.  Just as a good college education does.  You don't come out the same at the other end of the four years, nor would you want to.   A few years ago I worked at a job in Manhattan that recruited Ivy League minority kids to mentor minority high school kids with high potential, many of whom came from backgrounds that would not have exposed them to people with Ivy League educations.  Those college and grad school students were clearly no longer 'street kids' if indeed they ever had been - some were from quite privileged families - but they were delightful, genuine, authentic, generous, and eager to give back. I'd definitely have to argue that growing into their full potential had not at all hindered them from being a "true person."

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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: The Heyday of Dag

I imagine this is being discussed in what looks like a busy “Empty House” thread (I can’t go there until I finish the book) but wanted to post here how surprised I am that the mid-teenage brothers are living alone on Long Island ... and not just during the week but for weeks at a time! How responsible they are! Still, it’s amazing that they don’t get into trouble with the house or in the community…

 

Reggie’s job probably pays for his Filas, but Ben wants a job because they need money for food! That saddens and intrigues me: why aren’t the parents providing sufficient money? why do the parents not come out on weekends? why do they cancel each weekend with so little notice to the boys? No wonder Ben doesn’t feel in step with friends, he has a very strange and responsible role in his family.

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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008

Re: The Heyday of Dag

I liked the passage where Ben escaped into the water for solace (p64): “Best to float and pretend to be dead, or so my thinking went back then -- and in calm water I found nothing more peaceful than doing that very thing. Letting my body go, as if I didn’t have a body at all and there was no barrier between me and the sea, while waiting for one of my friends to flip me over or pull me under, because that’s what friends do*, but if I could get a few minutes alone out of the world I was happy.”

 

*on the surface this is just a goofing/buddy thing, but on a deeper level, isn’t that what friends do in Ben’s life -- disrupt and disorient his floundering sense of self?
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JSS
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Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Barriers: racial and cultural

I agree with you IBIS....while there is still significant evidence of "segregation" throughout our country and, beyond that, across the world, it seems to me that you hit the nail on the head. We've evolved over the past 2 to 3 decades into a world which is clearly biased in many ways but we are more subtle with our descriptions of those biases. And while we are becoming less racially biased in some ways, our language has not progressed in a unified way and that results in folks using one word to describe something that means different things to different people..

 

For instance, in the US, "segregation" appears to me to be more financial these days. We describe people as homeless, poor, middle income, upper income, professionals, etc.. Or we may speak about people according to what they do when we use words like teachers, blue coller workers, farmers, construction workers, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, migrant worker, laborer, etc.. Each of these words conjures up its own meaning to the individual depending on how you were raised.

 

Is there still racial bias, certainly. Do some people still think exclusively in those terms, why of course. Is there comfort in the homogenity of our surroundings, no denying it. But overall, I think society has progressed well beyond where race is the primary way in which we define ourselves or each other. 

 

While the young characters of "Sag Harbor" may find comfort in familiar surroundings and friends, so far in the book I don't see them centered on race as the dominant element in their lives. The rest of the book may prove me wrong but so far, I can see parts of myself in every one of these young folks and am able to relate to most of their feelings.

"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