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debbook
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)


thewanderingjew wrote:
Hi libralady,
You wondered why they decided to have children when they don't seem too happy with theirs, In those days, the sixties, it wasn't so much as a choice as it was considered an obligation to raise a family. You didn't think about it, you just had children because that was what you were supposed to do.
Not all women went to college or university. Most women who went to school, went to get their MRS., so they could settle down and have a family. Women were told to study for a career that would give them job security in case they didn't marry. Many women became teachers because of this. Women didn't work once they had a family. The job opportunities for women were in education, secretarial positions, administrative or menial positions for the most part. Yes, some women had other professional careers, but usually, they were few and far between and they came from families that could afford to pay for their higher education and/or could afford child care and home care because all of the household chores were done by the woman even if she worked.
Also, in those days, if a couple didn't  have children, by their own choice, they were considered selfish. People who couldn't have children for physical reasons were sympathized with and those who didn't marry were considered to be unhappy and unfulfilled. Fortunately, times have changed and so have our viewpoints.
twj

HA! As a single woman, I can tell you times haven't changed that much:smileyvery-happy:
 
Audrey and Joel don't seem like they would be influenced by the mainstream, but we don't know them in their early marriage, so maybe they were different. I se them as being so egotistical and above everyone that they probably wanted to have children to raise people to have their extreme views.
I do wish we knew some of their life in those forty years we skipped over.
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I found the disconnect between the prologue and the first chapters to be more than I was pepared to give credence to. 

 

The Audrey of the prologue has a "renunciatory streak in her that positively relished Martin's dullness."  I saw nothing of that in the mature Audrey, but I don't think that such streaks disappear that easily.  

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

[ Edited ]

MSaff wrote:

Hi Everyone, 

 

I don't think that any part of the (family) took Joel's stroke with any kind of seriousness.  He had been so strong in his beliefs and way of life that I don't think that anyone thought that this could put Joel down.

 

 

 


Hi-------I agree with this observation. I get the feeling that Audrey couldn't believe this had happened and that he had to recover immediately. Also, this may be conjecture on my part, but I feel that she needs Joel alive and well in order to function herself. Whether she's close to him or not, she needs the status quo to continue with her way of living these 40 years later. Also, will we ever have a hint as to how their marriage was in the first few months since they rushed into it so quickly? So far the book hasn't told us anything about their early years other than how they met.

Librarian

Message Edited by Librarian on 10-25-2008 09:30 PM
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EbonyAngel
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Well, here goes.  I've read some of the other comments and there are quite a few I agree with so I won't go in to it.

The big jump between the prologue and Chapter 1 was the biggest thing.  At first it didn't bother me because I thought there'd be a little history thrown in but, so far, nothing.

 

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sylvia387
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

The Prologue and Part 1 have given me a very  visual, though not very insightful, feel for the characters.  The calm Audrey has become the frenetic Audrey over the years.  No evidence as to why and I'm hoping to get some in future chapters.  Forty years...much has obviously happened to shape her.

 

Anyone who has had a family member in a critical health situation would probably agree that this is the time when individual relationships become apparent with the patient.  It does not surprise me that each family member reacts so differently as they internalize(sp?) their own memories with the person they fear losing.

 

I believe Audrey's insults come from that weak place inside her.......as she somehow makes herself a better person by finding the faults of others.

Sylvia

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)


gosox wrote:

[edited] ...As it is now, I find them all pretty unlikeable. However, as readers, we are privy to  their inner thoughts, making it far easier to find them fallible and lacking moral character. After thinking about it, I can't help but think how most of us would be perceived if all of our thoughts were out in the open. Having said this, I do think Joel and Audrey are particularly nasty characters and I am anxious to see how things pan out for them.

 

[edited]...On page 12, I made several notes about Joel after reading the paragraph that begins, "Joel looked at her, feeling baffled and bad tempered. . . . Why did she not congratulate him on the valor of his deeds, or show surprise that a man of his accomplishments was paying such courtly attention to her?"  The following comment only increased my dislike of the character: "A girl who could never be talked down to would be a little exhausting in the long run." As we know from the next few chapters, he certainly got that right.  I find these characters, with all of their foibles, human, and I have enjoyed the fact that so far, I don't really like them.

 

How sad is it that Joel finds Lenny to be a "mortifying reminder of a failed experiment?"

 


Good points! And the sad reality that Lenny is a social experiment gone awry suggests that social justice is on some level just a game to Joel. Right from the start, Heller is calling into question the purity of intention of bourgeois social crusaders like Joel and Audrey. It will be interesting to see how this plays out...

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I've just gotten through the first four chapters and find this family to be very dysfunctional.  They don't seem to be a family at all.  Each person is caught up in what they are doing.

 

Audrey started out as this idealistice person.  Joel's quick marriage proposal surprised me.  I expected them to be a bickering couple as their marriage progressed, staying together for the sake of the kids or something like that.  It does seem that they have settled into a comfortable pattern in their lives.  Audrey has become very harsh though as she has gotten older.  She seems to pamper her son and is very harsh towards her daughters.  Karla seems to accept her mother the way that she is and doesn't want to make waves.  She is looking for parental approval and seems to see any form of attention as a good thing.  It will be interesting to see how this impacts her relationship with Mike.  Rosa on the other hand doesn't seem to care what her parents think and is going to do what she wants in order to find who she is. 

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)


maude40 wrote:
Audrey is so quiet and nice in the prologue. I couldn't believe she accepted Joel's marriage proposal. I, too thought it was a joke on his behalf. Then in chapter 1 Audrey comes off as mad at the world. Like Debbie said in an  earlier post, I too would have liked to know more about their life during the 40 years before the stroke. Audrey totally turns me off with her bossy, rude attitude. I think she is using her lack of manners and sensitivity as a screen to hide something she's dealing with that we don't know about  yet. Yvonne

 

I do agree with you. Audrey seems very different in Chapter 1 from what she was like in the Prologue.What a contrast. I don't like her rudeness but I think she is an interesting character.  She actually reminds me of the mother of a close friend and I think there is some reason for her attitude. The stroke caught everyone by surprise of course and it appears to me Audrey has avery big need to be in control. I feel bad for her children but find the family dynamics very interesting.  
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments on the prologue and first four chapters. I did not see that much of a change in Audrey from the prologue to the first chapter. She always seemed cold when dealing with other people. I think she has always had definate opinions and she just became more open in expressing them as she grew older.
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Bonnie824 wrote:  I thought Joel was a pretty nice normal man, but I am sure we will learn more about him. Why he or anyone would put up with Audrey for 4 days forget about 40 years is beyond me.

 

LOL!!  What's that they say about no accounting for tastes?  

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Guerneymember12 wrote:  In the Prologue Audrey is standoffish, aloof.  In Chapter 1 she is outspoken and a radical.  She completely changed by marrying Joel.  She learned his ideas enough to be able to argue them to her friend jean, but does not educate herself so that she can do anything but argue joel's positions on politics.

 

Do you think Heller is using Audrey as a stereotype of a certain typical kind of radical, who believes they should be radical because that's what their parents and friends (and in this case husband) believe, so learn enough about radicalism to parrot the party lines, but have no real intellectual understanding of or core commitment to radical ideas?  

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

Karen wrote:   the sad reality that Lenny is a social experiment gone awry suggests that social justice is on some level just a game to Joel. Right from the start, Heller is calling into question the purity of intention of bourgeois social crusaders like Joel and Audrey. It will be interesting to see how this plays out...

 

That's a nice point about Lenny.  I'm not sure I would say it was a "game" exactly to Joel, but I think it was something closer to that than to a serious parental commitment.  It seemed like a whim in which he really had no sense of the impact it would have on others' lives (nothing seems to make much impact on his life) in the same way that marrying Audrey seemed a whim. 

 

 

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

The jump in time periods made me very curious because I really didn't expect that Audrey would develop along the lines that she did.  She seems so hard and cold and I get that this is something that she has clearly developed in herself, possibly in reaction to what she feels she needs to be for her husband. Joel struck me as more true to as he first appears.
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I was most certainly surprised that Audrey said yes to Joel. I find Audrey to be so abrasive and obnoxious. I cannot believe that anyone put up w/ her, if I were her daughters, I would not be close to them at all.

Also,  I found Joel to be a pretty disgusting character. Through his headache he manages to be checking out younger women. 

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

From the intro I thought the book was going to be very different and focused on the trial.  I took away from the description of Audrey's parents that they were older and settled and that she wanted something different, but wasn't really depressed or driven out by it.  I think the impression you are given of her mother's weight and Karla's weight issues does connect in Audrey's mind especially when you take into account that Audrey remains in good shape her whole life.

 

Jenn

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

I am a little slow on the uptake and have just finished the first 4 chapters.......I feel that we have not yet seen the worse (or best) of Lenny yet. Karla is definitely a more sympathetic  character worth developing and I feel perhaps the one, the glue that will bring them together in the end (hoping for a happier ending I guess). I don't feel that Rosa is at all selfish.....I think that for many years she acted like her parents expected her to act and as long as she was this anti-establishment radical, they approved of her. The minute she finds a different life for herself (whether she did this to stick it to them or not) they suddenly think she is selfish and thinks of no one else when in fact SHE is the one thinking of others.....

 

As for Audrey, her goal from the beginning was to "improve" herself and everything and everyone was game to help her in that goal... Martin taught her more about politics and once Joel came into the picture, Martin was no longer worthy of her.....I think her hautiness from 40 years later is seen in the prologue several times -- walking away from the woman, not wanting to have the petty conversations that come up at parties of this type. She believes she is better than most here in some fashion.

 

Joel remains the same pompous jerk (of course once in a coma, he is delightful) and forty years has made no difference. Most people tend to grow out of radicalism such as his (evidence Rosa) but he keeps it up perhaps it makes him feel younger or perhaps Audrey's fierce dedication eggs him forward more and more.....

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

[ Edited ]
So far I agree with much that has been said about all the characters we have met in this section.  I'm really curious to see how they develop from here.
Message Edited by Readingrat on 10-30-2008 08:33 PM
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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)


Shadowwolf36 wrote:

I am a little slow on the uptake and have just finished the first 4 chapters.......I feel that we have not yet seen the worse (or best) of Lenny yet. Karla is definitely a more sympathetic  character worth developing and I feel perhaps the one, the glue that will bring them together in the end (hoping for a happier ending I guess). I don't feel that Rosa is at all selfish.....I think that for many years she acted like her parents expected her to act and as long as she was this anti-establishment radical, they approved of her. The minute she finds a different life for herself (whether she did this to stick it to them or not) they suddenly think she is selfish and thinks of no one else when in fact SHE is the one thinking of others.....

 

As for Audrey, her goal from the beginning was to "improve" herself and everything and everyone was game to help her in that goal... Martin taught her more about politics and once Joel came into the picture, Martin was no longer worthy of her.....I think her hautiness from 40 years later is seen in the prologue several times -- walking away from the woman, not wanting to have the petty conversations that come up at parties of this type. She believes she is better than most here in some fashion.

 

Joel remains the same pompous jerk (of course once in a coma, he is delightful) and forty years has made no difference. Most people tend to grow out of radicalism such as his (evidence Rosa) but he keeps it up perhaps it makes him feel younger or perhaps Audrey's fierce dedication eggs him forward more and more.....


 

Your comments about Rosa are especially well put, Shadowwolf36!

 

So we pretty much all seem to be in agreement that something other than pure altruism or idealism has kept Joel in the game for forty years. What does he get out of his dedication to liberal causes? I think the best place to find the answers is in this first set of chapters, particularly Chapter 1. I agree that it makes him feel young and alive. He really seems to enjoy the notoriety and maybe even the danger of defending people like Hassani, an accused terrorist (even if Joel does believe him innocent, this is a pretty radical move for 2002).

 

What other motivations do you all perceive in your reading of Chapter 1?

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

The prologue was very different that the first section of the book. I found myself liking the Audrey and the Joel that appeared in the prologue, but can't like Audrey at all in the first section of the book. Joel does not seem to have changed that much, he's still the "star" of his world which is what he was in the prologue of the book.

 

The impact of the stroke is most interesting in the lack of real emotion that I see from most of the characters. Audrey's emotions seem more along the lines of being bothered by the whole thing than by being grief stricken or really worried about it. 

 

The conflicts in the family are many, and all seem to have roots with Audrey. She seems to thrive on the conflict that is around here, while appearing to be bothered by it.

 

The most interesting thing I've noted so far, is that I'm not finding a huge amount of humor in the book. It all seems very serious and dramatic. I don't see the humor I was expecting to see after reading the author's letter. Is anyone else feeling the same way on that, or is it just me?

 

 

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Re: Prologue and Part I (Ch. 1-4)

From what I've read so far, it seems to me the entire family has extremely low self esteem.

 

Audrey has parents who are terribly flawedPerhaps Audrey wanted to reinvent herselfFrom the beginning, Audrey was solitary, lonely and really didn't know who she was, so she created her persona.   She purposely related to others with an aloof, mysterious air (staying on the outskirts, and relishing Martin's dullness as proof of her "serious mindedness). She associates with high minded thinkers to elevate herself on a social and educational level.   I believe she's convinced of her "ignorance" and I think her fear of being patronized has made her into a person who "bites first" just to make sure she doesn't "get bitten".  Her hard outer exterior is her armor, so to speak.

 

Joel was different from the rest of the pack...older, AmericanHe appeared self assured, strong, and offered Audrey securityHe and Audrey were both "workers" in college...unlike their friends who were priviledgedPerhaps Audrey found strength in Joel's self assuranceIn addition, he treated Audrey kindly and seemed not to judge her even after seeing the squalor of her parent's home...  (By comparison, Martin had pontificated, wanting only an audienceMartin cared nothing for Audrey really and wound up forcing himself on her one evening, calling her a "tease".)  Joel talked about marrying her...he didn't call her a tease, rather he told her how wonderful she was.

 

In my opinion though, Joel appeared self-assured but much of it seemed to be bluster, as was his athletic "show-off" attitudeHis insecurity was the fear of not being likedHis bluster was meant to impress...a "big talker" so to speak. Even in his advanced age, he jokes and flirts with young women (e.g., the blonde in the elevator) as if he's virile and self-assuredI'm still not sure what to think of his "social experiment" in regard to his son, but could this have started out the same way his social awareness did in the beginning? By that,I mean that he had good intentions in the beginning, but he lost his way, became jaded, and gave up somewhere along the road.

 



.

Suzi

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