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KxBurns
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Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

If the Litvinoffs can be said to have confronted the limitations of their individual faiths in Part III, Part IV finds them deciding how to proceed. Which characters choose change, who chooses to maintain the status quo, and why?

 

What legacy does Joel leave behind? How does his memorial service pay homage to his ideals? How does it expose the hypocrisy of his lifestyle?

 

At this point, we have discussed some of the belief systems to which the characters attach themselves (with varying levels of commitment). How do the Litvinoffs illustrate the risks and rewards of turning oneself over entirely - blindly, even - to a particular ideology?

 

What is the outlook for Audrey, Karla, Rosa, and Lenny as the novel ends?

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detailmuse
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)


KxBurns wrote:
Which characters choose change, who chooses to maintain the status quo, and why?

What is the outlook for Audrey, Karla, Rosa, and Lenny as the novel ends?


Hoo boy, I fear I'm pessimistic here. I think all but Lenny have changed, but only a teeny bit -- and mostly just into new ways of doing their same old thing.

 

Audrey publicly acknowledged Berenice and Jamil, and I do think they will mix a bit into a tribe. But I think Audrey's motivation for doing so was to protect the forthcoming Foundation, which will be her work and livelihood and reputation moving forward.

 

Rosa needs to live within a tight structure and Orthodox Judaism is it for now.

 

Karla needs to hide in a relationship, Khaled is a safe, loving choice for now.

 

Lenny needs to withdraw from life, drugs and Mom work for now.

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KxBurns
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

I think you're on to something, though, detailmuse. Ultimately, aren't they all just searching for some structure to provide refuge from the unpredictablility of life? 

 

There are actually several passages in the book that allude to the futility of struggling against the universe, which is a very timely sentiment.

 

Check out the following snippets:

- from Chapter 4, Karla thinks, "The moment you wanted anything too fervently, the moment you yearned, the universe gazed with disgust upon your mewling and withheld."

 

- from Chapter 5, Audrey "...had often fantasized that her failure to perform certain tasks...would result in cosmic disasters. Now when she lay on the sofa late at night, listening to the familiar creaks of her gently subsiding house, she was visited by similar superstitious forebodings."

 

- from Chapter 8, Audrey recalls that she "had tended, like most small children, to regard the world as a frozen parade of people and scenes that only came truly alive in her presence. .. The assault to her illusion of omniscience had been devastating. Reality, she had suddenly understood, was not a series of discrete tableaux staged solely for her benefit, but vast and chaotic and unmasterable."

 

- from Chapter 9, Rosa tells Raphael, "We're just one little program. Maybe we keep them off drugs for for a while, and maybe we defer pregnancy for a few years, but... their class destiny is still the same."

 

There's a sense of powerlessness here. And at the end, Audrey, Karla, and Rosa all seem to have chosen to control their own destiny, even if it's not in the most ideal way.

 

Agree? Disagree? 

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detailmuse
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

Agree, Karen. After I'd posted this, I caught up on all the "theme" threads, and the messages there made me realize these were each structures -- belief systems -- that the characters had chosen. The characters believe they're in control -- structures are comfortable that way; they give a sense of safety. But it's an illusion. Real strength is developed (internally), it's not bestowed (externally). When these structures no longer fit, the characters will flail again in fear. While I don't believe the universe is random, I do believe that our inability to understand it makes it seem that way. I give credibility to the Law of Attraction -- and that we have to be careful not to let our fear be the energy that attracts things to us.

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KxBurns
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)


detailmuse wrote:

Agree, Karen. After I'd posted this, I caught up on all the "theme" threads, and the messages there made me realize these were each structures -- belief systems -- that the characters had chosen. The characters believe they're in control -- structures are comfortable that way; they give a sense of safety. But it's an illusion. Real strength is developed (internally), it's not bestowed (externally). When these structures no longer fit, the characters will flail again in fear. While I don't believe the universe is random, I do believe that our inability to understand it makes it seem that way. I give credibility to the Law of Attraction -- and that we have to be careful not to let our fear be the energy that attracts things to us.


Wonderfully put!

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Readingrat
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

Did anyone else love Audrey's response to Rosa's question of what she would do if the truth revealed itself to her and it wasn't the truth she wanted to find?  It was just so Audrey.  Actually it surprised me a little that Rosa (after living with Audrey for so long) didn't already know that answer.
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dhaupt
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

Loaded question Karen,

Okay the characters that chose change were of course Karla. And I'm going out on a limb and say Rosa and Lenny too, I'm going to believe that he could move back into his old life and continue with the new beliefs he learned about dependency, I'm also going to believe that Rosa took up the life of Orthodoxy and I'm going to believe these things even though the book didn't go that far.

 

I don't get that Joel's life was a hypocrisy, where in the book of liberals does it say that a man stays faithful to his wife, and where does it say that he needs to be a perfect parent and I don't think he taught his children any of those things either, so they owe their dysfunction mostly to their mother. Or am I being too hard on Audrey. I don't think so.

 

As far as where the characters go from here I think I spoke of the siblings in the first paragraph and I think Audrey will be status quo also, I don't have any indication that she's going to change, I mean one meaningful eulogy does not a new person make. 

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KxBurns
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)


dhaupt wrote:

Loaded question Karen,

Okay the characters that chose change were of course Karla. And I'm going out on a limb and say Rosa and Lenny too, I'm going to believe that he could move back into his old life and continue with the new beliefs he learned about dependency, I'm also going to believe that Rosa took up the life of Orthodoxy and I'm going to believe these things even though the book didn't go that far.

 

I don't get that Joel's life was a hypocrisy, where in the book of liberals does it say that a man stays faithful to his wife, and where does it say that he needs to be a perfect parent and I don't think he taught his children any of those things either, so they owe their dysfunction mostly to their mother. Or am I being too hard on Audrey. I don't think so.

 

As far as where the characters go from here I think I spoke of the siblings in the first paragraph and I think Audrey will be status quo also, I don't have any indication that she's going to change, I mean one meaningful eulogy does not a new person make. 


I'm glad you brought this up, although I was thinking more about the hypocrisy of the bourgeois lifestyle that Joel and Audrey lead in spite of their professed leftist leanings.

 

But I think you've raised the wonderful question of whether failure to live up to one's ideals can be equated with hypocrisy. What does everyone think?

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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Part III (Ch. 9-18)

Yes, that certainly is true about Joel, but what I took away from Joel's memorial and perhaps the point Ms. Heller wants to make is this:  People from all races, religions, classes etc. were represented at Joel's memorial.  Could it be that one doesn't have to belong to an organized religion, doesn't have to be a morally stellar being to be a good person?  Joel went about doing exactly what he wanted to do in life, help the disenfranchised, and that's what he did all to his own benefit.  Audrey sort of came along for the ride, we don't really know what she wanted out of life.  Audrey's complete identity was entwined with Joel.  Now that he is gone she finds a way to continue that identity posthumously.  In my estimation I think hers was a very sad life.

Not sticking up for Joel, mind you, he's a cad!


blkeyesuzi wrote:

 

Joel:  wanted to be perceived as athletic, self assured, knowledgeable, and strong.  He was perceived as a moral, successful attorney and in actualiy he is helpless, weak, opinionated, and unfaithful.

 


 

Lynda

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The Uncommon Reader


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It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
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Sassy398
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

The way I see it, the family really needs to somehow pull together. Everyone has the own individuality,

 but there comes a time when family should try and pull it all as one family. Audrey, in all reality did not

 have such a great family structure while growing up, therefore it's evident she never learned what it

 was like to have been loved. As far Joel's relationship with audrey it was built from lust. Each one of

 audrey's natural children basically was sort of an extention of Audrey's personality.  Rosa was the

 bold one, which represents Audrey's younger days. Karla represents the deepest inner soul of

 Audrey, that people very rarely gets to see.  Lenny, though not her natural son, Audrey wishes

he would have been. There could be some hope for this poor family, but in need of great mental

therapy.

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lamorgan
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

I really like Sassy's answer. From what I see, Audrey is a clinger. She used Joel to justify her own self-identity and now, she will use Lenny and the girls. However, if Lenny learns to care about his own self worth in rehab, she may not have that option.

So, then what? Will she turn to her daughters? They, however, obviously must harbor some resentment from being pushed aside all those years, so will they also not give her the attention she will crave.

Obviously, Audrey didn't care about Joel's affairs, probably because fidelity wasn't what she needed from him.

If worse comes to worst, she may turn to Joel other child for the attention she needs. Like her relationship with Lenny, it's a person who is at a certain distance and who doesnt' see her for what she really is.

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CDover1978
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

I think that by the end of the book, the Litvinoff's have come to realize they type of people they really are.  If it were not for Joel's untimely stroke and later death, they would not have put their lives under a microscope and identified their problems and what they needed to do to be a better person. 

 

For instance, Audrey, her problem has always been with Joel's cheating ways and in her own Audrey way, accepted the fact that Joel had a baby with Berenice and that Jamil IS a part of her life because he is a part of Joel.

 

Karla realized that Mike didn't complete her.  He was molding her to be someone that she was not happy with.  Khaled allowed her to be the person that she knew existed deep down inside of herself.

 

Rosa finally let go of her need to question authority and gave herself completely to Orthodox Judaism.  This is what completed her... that missing puzzle piece in her life.

 

Lenny is a complicated soul that accepted the help that was offered to him through AA, whether or not he sticks with staying clean is all up to him, but he adopted the tools and agreed to always follow the 12-steps.

 

This family was very complex and intriguing.  I really wish that there would have been maybe a Chapter 25 to REALLY round off everyone's life.  I hate not knowing what happened to these characters (even though they are fictitious).

Courtney
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LucyintheOC
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

I think that by the end of the book, although there was movement, none of the characters really experienced any real change or evolution of self. Just a different day and a different color -- but no permanent change and certainly nothing exceptional. They were all just still stuck with their same selves coated and painted a little differently. This being said, I feel hope for Karla, that she will achieve a self she will like. Also, I feel the same way about Rosa. Although we don't know, I feel that she will continue to search and, hopefully, make a choice that fills the hole inside her. I hold no hope for Audrey, and very little at this point for Lenny -- because addiction is such a hard tiger to tame and he was already regressing. Well, maybe in the future. Where there's life, there's hope.
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fordmg
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)


CDover1978 wrote:

I think that by the end of the book, the Litvinoff's have come to realize they type of people they really are.  If it were not for Joel's untimely stroke and later death, they would not have put their lives under a microscope and identified their problems and what they needed to do to be a better person. 

 

For instance, Audrey, her problem has always been with Joel's cheating ways and in her own Audrey way, accepted the fact that Joel had a baby with Berenice and that Jamil IS a part of her life because he is a part of Joel.

 

Karla realized that Mike didn't complete her.  He was molding her to be someone that she was not happy with.  Khaled allowed her to be the person that she knew existed deep down inside of herself.

 

Rosa finally let go of her need to question authority and gave herself completely to Orthodox Judaism.  This is what completed her... that missing puzzle piece in her life.

 

Lenny is a complicated soul that accepted the help that was offered to him through AA, whether or not he sticks with staying clean is all up to him, but he adopted the tools and agreed to always follow the 12-steps.

 

This family was very complex and intriguing.  I really wish that there would have been maybe a Chapter 25 to REALLY round off everyone's life.  I hate not knowing what happened to these characters (even though they are fictitious).


We don't really know if Rosa will stick with Orthodox religion.   She jumped in with both feet into socialism in Cuba and became disillusioned.  After 5 years she may leave Israel as well. \

MG

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debbook
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

I think Audrey changes, though not necessarily for the better. I think her eulogy was her way of taking charge for the first time. Of course, she used Bernice and Jamal, no surprise there. Even though she is doing this under the guise of Joel's legacy, I think this was her way of making herself more important.

 

I am glad Karla left her husband, I think she is finally able to think for herself. Lenny will probably fall back into old habits, but I like to think that eventually he will find his way again. I don't know what I think about Rosa. I don't know if she will be able to stay commited to the Orthodox way of life. But I think she has discovered a new part of herself, the spiritual part, something that certainly wasn't nurtured as she was growing up.

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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)


lamorgan wrote:

... From what I see, Audrey is a clinger. She used Joel to justify her own self-identity and now, she will use Lenny and the girls. However, if Lenny learns to care about his own self worth in rehab, she may not have that option.

So, then what? Will she turn to her daughters? They, however, obviously must harbor some resentment from being pushed aside all those years, so will they also not give her the attention she will crave.

Obviously, Audrey didn't care about Joel's affairs, probably because fidelity wasn't what she needed from him.

If worse comes to worst, she may turn to Joel other child for the attention she needs. Like her relationship with Lenny, it's a person who is at a certain distance and who doesnt' see her for what she really is.


I can't help but wonder if Audrey's attention to Lenny is based on his inability to take care of himself, his absolute incapabilities...could it be that Audrey is really in search of someone "lower" to elevate herself? As long as Audrey enabled the behavior, she had a willing paricipant in her drama.  Audrey historically felt inferior to most everyone.

 

Perhaps her lack of attention to the girls is based on their independence.  Audrey may have needed a truly sad case to keep her feeling superior.  That is not to say that she didn't weild her superiority over  the girls, rather that they didn't seem to be as willing to accept it without question.  Lenny seemed to take the path  of least resistance with Audrey for the most part.  

Suzi

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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)


detailmuse wrote:

KxBurns wrote:
Which characters choose change, who chooses to maintain the status quo, and why?

What is the outlook for Audrey, Karla, Rosa, and Lenny as the novel ends?


Hoo boy, I fear I'm pessimistic here. I think all but Lenny have changed, but only a teeny bit -- and mostly just into new ways of doing their same old thing.

 

Audrey publicly acknowledged Berenice and Jamil, and I do think they will mix a bit into a tribe. But I think Audrey's motivation for doing so was to protect the forthcoming Foundation, which will be her work and livelihood and reputation moving forward.

 

Rosa needs to live within a tight structure and Orthodox Judaism is it for now.

 

Karla needs to hide in a relationship, Khaled is a safe, loving choice for now.

 

Lenny needs to withdraw from life, drugs and Mom work for now.


I agree with this wholeheartedly...each of the characters has "withdrawn" into their own safe zone, so to speak, ....including Joel who has withdrawn into his coma (not of his own accord, of course).

 

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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maude40
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

This is the most divided family I've ever seen. Audrey ,who should hold them together, pushes everyone away due to her irritating ways. She is the bad seed in this family, in my opinion. When she could help she just alienates them. Never once in this whole book did I feel a liking for Audrey, which is a credit to Ms. Heller for creating such a strong character.
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maude40
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

I don't really understand what Audrey hoped to gain by announcing Berenice and Jamil at the funeral. Although maybe doing it publicly was a way for her to accept it and deal with it.
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maude40
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Re: Part IV (Ch. 19-24)

It seemed to me that Lenny was the only one who might make a life for himself. If he stays away from his disfunctional family he might have a chance . Whereas Karla and Rosa are both struggling to find their way and really don't have a course laid out.