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Jennifer_Barth
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎10-22-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

This reply is from Zoe's editor, Jennifer. I just wanted to say how interesting I found this post, as I've read this scene so many times but never once thought of the Jewish wedding tradition. Reading it now, it seems very obvious! Thanks for the insight.
thewanderingjew wrote:
Audrey finds herself without political purpose after Joel's stroke. Always carrying an angry persona before, in her daily battles, she simply transfers her anger to all those she comes in contact with about Joel and every other facet of her life. I think her anger becomes her purpose. I think she hides behind her rudeness and brashness. She appears to resent any and all authority, no matter where it comes from, business associates, friends and family, doctors, it doesn't matter. Yet, she assumes that she is the authority on everything.
How unhappy she must have been her entire married life, carrying her disappointment with Joel's faithlessness under the radar, so to speak, and treating it as if it were the norm. Having it come full circle to smack her in the face was a lot more than she could stand. I thought it was interesting that she smashed all the glassware. The breaking of the glass is an integral part of the Jewish marriage ceremony. 
"This custom, sheva brachos, dates back to Talmudic times, and symbolizes the idea of our keeping Jerusalem and Israel in our minds even at times of our joy. Just as the Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed, so we break a utensil to show our identification with the sorrow of Jewish exile. The verse, "If I forget thee O' Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning: If I do not raise thee over my own joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth", is sometimes recited at this point. With the breaking of the glass the band plays, and the guests usually break out into dancing and cries of "Mazaltov! Mazaltov!" (Some say, tongue in cheek, that this moment symbolizes the last time the groom gets to "put his foot down")"
Was Audrey symbolically smashing the glasses to symbolize his infidelity which showed that he didn't honor his marriage vows, that he forgot her and destroyed  "the temple" of their  marriage? Did he not forget to raise her over his own joy when he cheated for his own pleasure without regard for the fact that he was hurting her, his Jerusalem. And is his stroke a symbol of his punishment? ...Or am I reading too much into this? It is just a thought.
twj

 

KxBurns wrote:
edited by twj...

How is Audrey confronted with Joel's human frailty throughout this section of the book and how does she react? What resources does she use to cope?

 


 


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Jennd1
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Registered: ‎01-28-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

I have to say that I liked Hannah she seems like a firery old lady and I would not want to get in her way.  She obviously knows what she wants and knows how to run her own show.  In some ways she reiminded me of Audrey except that where Audrey creates her own reality you get the idea that Hannah took reality on and won. 
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Librarian
Posts: 483
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


Jennd1 wrote:
I have to say that I liked Hannah she seems like a firery old lady and I would not want to get in her way.  She obviously knows what she wants and knows how to run her own show.  In some ways she reiminded me of Audrey except that where Audrey creates her own reality you get the idea that Hannah took reality on and won. 

 

Jennd!------That's a great observation! I love the way you sum up the realities of Audrey and Hannah. I agree with that.

Librarian

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Sassy3
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎08-25-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

Audrey is a woman in denail of her past, present and future. She basically runs from her problems, instead of facing hem head on. Rosa,is a confused woman, but look at her family background, on the

otherhand, I give her kudos for trying to believe in something. Karla suffers from lowself esteem, for odd

reason,we have to thank Audrey for all the great compliments, she give Karla...Mike, doesn't help matters,

but hey why not everyone else gets on Karla's case.  Then we have Lenny , the durg addict sponge, who

is a master at manipulation, a 30 year old going no where. Add this all up and you have a great equasion of a very disfuctional family, who could use some help,if ther's any hope for them??? Ah Yes, then we have,Hannah, I think she is the most down to earth, and if the family would listen to her, they might learn something about life.

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debbook
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Registered: ‎05-03-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

I wonder about Karla's lack of interest in adopting a child. Does she not want to be a mother because she does not think she would be good at it? Certainly she doesn't get positive reinforcement from anyone in her life and perhaps the fact that she can't conceive a child might reinforce that the idea that she's not meant to be a mother. Or maybe she just doesn't want one. I really don't like Mike much and I don't get the sense that he loves Karla.
A room without books is like a body without a soul.~ Cicero...
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LucyintheOC
Posts: 69
Registered: ‎03-05-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

[ Edited ]

becky_quilts wrote: 

I am really shocked at the degree of self loathing in Karla.  How does that woman get out of bed in the morning?  She is the character I most sympathize with but it is so painful to listen to her thoughts.  I can see a little of Audrey in her in the way she always says the opposite of how she's feeling. 

 

I've noticed that we never see anything from Lenny's perspective.  Curious.

_____

 

debbook worte:

You can tell in this part that Audrey is coming a little undone. I don't think she expected that Joel wouldn't have recovered.

 

I liked reading about Rosa's trip to Monsey. What a completely different world for her. I wonder why she chose to explore Judiasm in one of the more stricter sects. Is it just in her nature to pick the most extreme of something?

_____

 

lcnh1 wrote:

Rosa on the other hand seems to jump from one extreme to the other.  She went to Cuba and became disillusioned with what she found when it did not match her expectations.  Now she has jumped into studing Judaism and her heritage to the dismay of Audrey and her family.  She does what suits her at the time.

___ 

 

becky_quilts, I agree with you about Karla. Much of the time I found it very painful to deal with her thoughts and reactions. But I wasn't shocked at the degree of her self-loathing....it is the legacy from her sad excuse of a mother. As far as Lenny, he had his own agenda and his codependency with Audrey. Lenny was into himself and his own needs. I'm not saying that he didn't want or hope for Joel to recover -- but I don't know that he overly cared except from a general human/humane standpoint. For most of the book, he was just into himself and his own needs/wants/desires.

 

debbook and lcnh1, I think it's in her nature. Rosa gravitated toward something so extreme because she is like a lot of lost people -- searching for something that will fill up the internal holes and heal the hurts by replacing what isn't and is there, respectively. She came from a family of extremes (and extremists, and extremist personalities [starting with the parents and being passed on to the children] ) and I wonder if a path of moderation can help give her what she needs in order to feel whole (ever). Actually, I also wonder this about Karla.

Message Edited by LucyintheOC on 10-30-2008 08:40 PM
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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


dhaupt wrote:

 

 

 

Karla's encounter with Nicholas or the monster as he calls himself was disturbing but probably something that goes on in mental wards all the time. But when I met Khaled I saw her soul mate and wondered what would come of their chance meeting. It's obvious to me how Mike's obsession with first getting pregnant and now adoption is really eating at Karla. I can see she wants children but I can see a major problem here between the two of them.

 

 

 

 


I love Khaled. His comment to Karla when she said that Nicholas wasn't really a bad boy that he came in and found him choking her and that was bad was so honest and true. I work with "at risk" and "special" students and while many are pitiful and deserve compassion and second/third/fourth chances, there are kids who are just bad. No matter who caused it when they were young.

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fordmg
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


debbook wrote:
I wonder about Karla's lack of interest in adopting a child. Does she not want to be a mother because she does not think she would be good at it? Certainly she doesn't get positive reinforcement from anyone in her life and perhaps the fact that she can't conceive a child might reinforce that the idea that she's not meant to be a mother. Or maybe she just doesn't want one. I really don't like Mike much and I don't get the sense that he loves Karla.

I don't think that Karla'a issue is not wanting to be a mother, or thinking she would not be a good one, I think it is Mike.  He gives her nothing.  He doesn't even endear himself to her when they are trying to have their own.  The adoption agency wanted an essay, and I think Karla saw that she came from a strange family and she didn't want to write about that.  Mike glibly writes about families and parenthood, but I don't get the feeling that he is serious either.  He just is able to write ideas better, whether truth or not.

MG

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


fordmg wrote:

debbook wrote:
I wonder about Karla's lack of interest in adopting a child. Does she not want to be a mother because she does not think she would be good at it? Certainly she doesn't get positive reinforcement from anyone in her life and perhaps the fact that she can't conceive a child might reinforce that the idea that she's not meant to be a mother. Or maybe she just doesn't want one. I really don't like Mike much and I don't get the sense that he loves Karla.

I don't think that Karla'a issue is not wanting to be a mother, or thinking she would not be a good one, I think it is Mike.  He gives her nothing.  He doesn't even endear himself to her when they are trying to have their own.  The adoption agency wanted an essay, and I think Karla saw that she came from a strange family and she didn't want to write about that.  Mike glibly writes about families and parenthood, but I don't get the feeling that he is serious either.  He just is able to write ideas better, whether truth or not.

MG


 

I think you're correct, MG, but I also think that even if Karla didn't have very justified reservations about having/adopting a child with Mike, she might have issues with adoption anyway. So far I don't see much closeness between either of the sisters and Lenny; judging from Audrey's preferential treatment of him, I would imagine there's some resentment there. That alone might be enough to sour Karla on adopting!
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


Jennifer_Barth wrote:
This reply is from Zoe's editor, Jennifer. I just wanted to say how interesting I found this post, as I've read this scene so many times but never once thought of the Jewish wedding tradition. Reading it now, it seems very obvious! Thanks for the insight.
thewanderingjew wrote:
Audrey finds herself without political purpose after Joel's stroke. Always carrying an angry persona before, in her daily battles, she simply transfers her anger to all those she comes in contact with about Joel and every other facet of her life. I think her anger becomes her purpose. I think she hides behind her rudeness and brashness. She appears to resent any and all authority, no matter where it comes from, business associates, friends and family, doctors, it doesn't matter. Yet, she assumes that she is the authority on everything.
How unhappy she must have been her entire married life, carrying her disappointment with Joel's faithlessness under the radar, so to speak, and treating it as if it were the norm. Having it come full circle to smack her in the face was a lot more than she could stand. I thought it was interesting that she smashed all the glassware. The breaking of the glass is an integral part of the Jewish marriage ceremony. 
"This custom, sheva brachos, dates back to Talmudic times, and symbolizes the idea of our keeping Jerusalem and Israel in our minds even at times of our joy. Just as the Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed, so we break a utensil to show our identification with the sorrow of Jewish exile. The verse, "If I forget thee O' Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning: If I do not raise thee over my own joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth", is sometimes recited at this point. With the breaking of the glass the band plays, and the guests usually break out into dancing and cries of "Mazaltov! Mazaltov!" (Some say, tongue in cheek, that this moment symbolizes the last time the groom gets to "put his foot down")"
Was Audrey symbolically smashing the glasses to symbolize his infidelity which showed that he didn't honor his marriage vows, that he forgot her and destroyed  "the temple" of their  marriage? Did he not forget to raise her over his own joy when he cheated for his own pleasure without regard for the fact that he was hurting her, his Jerusalem. And is his stroke a symbol of his punishment? ...Or am I reading too much into this? It is just a thought.
twj

I agree -- wonderful catch, twj! Your insight gives the scene additional meaning :smileyhappy:

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


Librarian wrote:

Jennd1 wrote:
I have to say that I liked Hannah she seems like a firery old lady and I would not want to get in her way.  She obviously knows what she wants and knows how to run her own show.  In some ways she reiminded me of Audrey except that where Audrey creates her own reality you get the idea that Hannah took reality on and won. 

 

Jennd!------That's a great observation! I love the way you sum up the realities of Audrey and Hannah. I agree with that.

Librarian


 

You definitely get the sense that Hannah is what Audrey might have been. She's feisty and opinionated and liberal but without the bitter edge. She seems far more comfortable in her own skin. Do you think these differences can be attributed to age, or temperament, or the fact that the women are of different eras? Of course life experiences would play a role, and we don't know whether Hannah endured a philandering husband like Audrey has... 

 

Whatever the reasons, I think the introduction of Hannah provides a brilliant juxtaposition to Audrey. In reading the scene in Chapter 5 featuring Hannah, Audrey, and Rosa, do you think Heller is making a bigger statement about the progression of liberalism in three generations of Litvinoff women?

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


ilenekm wrote:

debbook wrote:

I liked reading about Rosa's trip to Monsey. What a completely different world for her. I wonder why she chose to explore Judiasm in one of the more stricter sects. Is it just in her nature to pick the most extreme of something?


I think that it is quite common for someone who comes from a background of no religion to be intrigued by the customs of the most fervent.  Going to a reform or even conservative synagogue would probably not have the same draw as the orthodox one since many members of reform or cons. are secular like her.  The orthodox way is very different and probably more spiritual


 

I think you're both right. Rosa's choice of Orthodox Judaism speaks to both her penchant for doing things wholeheartedly (moving to Cuba for four years is nothing if not committed :smileyhappy: )and the rebellious streak that has, ironically, been encouraged by her upbringing. It's an interesting choice -- she is turning toward something that represents everything her parents and even grandparents have disavowed, as ilenekm points out; but at the same time, as debbook says, her choice really does reflect an extremism that's been ingrained in her by her parents.

 

Imagine how difficult it would be to find an avenue for rebellion in the Litvinoff household! Going conservative would be one choice. This may also be a way of looking at Lenny's substance abuse problems -- since casual drug use was condoned, he probably had to get deeply into it for it to register with his parents as more than just a phase. Which is not to say Audrey and Joel have intentionally pushed their children toward these extremities...

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

I'm glad so many of you enjoyed reading abut Rosa's trip to Monsey. But nobody has mentioned what I think is a great aspect of this section: Rosa's encounter with her high school acquaintance while she waits to board the bus.

 

What did you make of the encounter, as well as the passage that immediately preceeds it, where Rosa reflects on what passersby might be thinking of her and her group? What insight does it provide into Rosa?...

Contributor
CDover1978
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

Rosa spends too much time worrying about what other people think.  She's so concerned about stereotypes than she is about her own reality.

 

The old friend that she runs into doesn't fit the lifestyle that she wants people to believe that she lives/is a part of and can't handle people staring at her. 

 

Ultimately, Rosa is still nothing more than a rebellious child stuck inside of an adult's body...trying to do whatever she can to tick her parents off, while at the same time forcing herself to believe that she is making the right decisions in life.

Courtney
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lamorgan
Posts: 62
Registered: ‎01-19-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8) Spunky Hannah

I agree with Ibis. I liked Hannah from the get-go. She's probably the only person in the book, so far, who seems real. She has so much gumption and has obviously "put up" with Audrey all these years.
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Jodi
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

Audrey is in denial about how Joel's health is.   I liked Rosa's trip to Monsey.
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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

I also wondered if Audrey was more devoted to Lenny than Rosa/Karla because she viewed "saving" him as a sort of social cause?

 


Librarian wrote:
[Audrey] doesn't have a maternal instinct for her own daughters because being part of her, how they turn out is a reflection on her. Since Lenny is not biologically hers, he does not reflect her inadequacy and she is then free to love him without conditions.

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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

[ Edited ]

From p140: "Everyone had been astonished when [Mike] decided to take a romantic interest in Karla..."

 

So does anyone have a guess as to why he did? She's passive and undisciplined, keeping a sloppy desk and putting up with chronic gyne problems ... he's thin, organized to the point of controlling, and from a big Catholic family. What's the attraction?

Message Edited by detailmuse on 11-06-2008 08:30 PM
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libralady
Posts: 159
Registered: ‎09-23-2008
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)


KxBurns wrote:

I'm glad so many of you enjoyed reading abut Rosa's trip to Monsey. But nobody has mentioned what I think is a great aspect of this section: Rosa's encounter with her high school acquaintance while she waits to board the bus.

 

What did you make of the encounter, as well as the passage that immediately preceeds it, where Rosa reflects on what passersby might be thinking of her and her group? What insight does it provide into Rosa?...


It seemed to me that Rosa was somewhat embarrassed about the group she was traveling with.  Immediately upon arriving at the bus stop she seemed uncomfortable to be in the company of  what she thought of as "Jewish Jews".  She seemed very concerned about that people walking by might mistake her as being part of the "clan".  She was clearly uncomfortable when Chris recognized her and when he spoke of Cuba.  I think her initial interest in Judaism was just another one of her rebellious acts. I think her one-on-one conversation with Rabbi Reinman helped her to examine her real reasons for her new interest and how far she was willing to pursue it.

"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Part II (Ch. 5-8)

[ Edited ]

libralady wrote:

It seemed to me that Rosa was somewhat embarrassed about the group she was traveling with.  Immediately upon arriving at the bus stop she seemed uncomfortable to be in the company of  what she thought of as "Jewish Jews".  She seemed very concerned about that people walking by might mistake her as being part of the "clan".  She was clearly uncomfortable when Chris recognized her and when he spoke of Cuba.  I think her initial interest in Judaism was just another one of her rebellious acts. I think her one-on-one conversation with Rabbi Reinman helped her to examine her real reasons for her new interest and how far she was willing to pursue it.


Definitely. At  this point Rosa is truly caught between two worlds. She starts off the chapter being relieved to be away from her mother and grandmother. Yet she's not really a part of the group waiting for the bus. She's afraid of what the group will think, seeing her talk to Chris, and afraid of what Chris will think, seeing her with this group.  

Message Edited by KxBurns on 11-09-2008 12:00 PM