Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



cindersue wrote:
Viv ... Maybe he was a banker who had just wanted to join the circus as a kid and with the onset of Alzheimers, just imagined it all, based on his past desires, since the long term memory is much better than short term, which is why they tend to tell you about things that happened a year ago, decades ago, and dont remember you coming yesterday. Now this is a lot of maybe's mixed in with some realities BUT I chose to believe every single thing this man said and did, he did!

Okay, Viv, do you believe that "I see people?" Am I really seeing those nightly visitors in my bedroom, have I read so much that I'm putting these people in my dreams, or do I have ALZ? hmmmmm, wonder what's reality ... and I'm in my early 50s! ROFL :smileywink:




There isn't any part of the book that indicates that Jacob is dreaming. This is his life. If it was Jacobs imagination, the story would have ended differently.
MG
Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

It is a really interesting idea! But it's true--I also relate so strongly to the truth of Jacob's story, and all of its details--that to question it as a "water for elephants" story or as a mistaken flashback--is disheartening somehow.

And maybe that is also something about Alzs, and our perception of the disease, that it seems to rob a person of so many details of the self!
Frequent Contributor
cindersue
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎04-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

IBIS wrote:
It's a much richer story if Jacob is in full possession of his senses. Although he suffers lapses in memory, he still has a vitally active inner life.
and:

IBIS wrote:
I think reducing this wonderful story to Jacob's mere hallucinations is really depressing. We could use that explanation for sheer fun, but any intelligent reader would know something was "off" if the details didn't add up.

If Sara Gruen gives clues that things are not what they seem, there is no reason to suspect that Jacob is merely reliving youthful fantasies. She makes no suggestions, no allusions, no metaphors to lead us to believe that Jacob is imagining all this.

Granted, circus life is about creating illusions, and fooling the audience. But I don't think Sara Gruen was trying to trick us. The details of circus life are very convincing; the vocabulary the characters use could only be learned by someone who was actually there.

Circus culture is very exclusive. In an interview, Sara Gruen mentions how exclusive circus people are. They are very sensitive to being misunderstood, and made fun of by outsiders. The details of their lives are jealously guarded, and no outsider could imagine the details unless they actually lived that life.

Jacob's flashbacks are amazingly rich in detail. I believe that they are true memories, and not fantasies.


Yes, Jacob has memory loss. He doesn't remember how old he is, he doesn't remember his children's names, he gets his nurse and an elephant names confused. No one is trying to reduce this wonderful story into something depressing. This intelligent reader believes it's possible that his memories could be mixed up. That's reality of our elderly people. How do we know for sure ... only the author knows for sure.
Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

Wow, such interesting perspectives everyone has written. I'm reading this book for the first time and only in chapter two so to me any of these possibilities exist.
But I need to say that I like the use of the old and young Jacobs. It seems to me that many people look at an older person and see them just as an old feeble minded person, they forget that older people have a past, that there was a life before they moved into assisted living.
To be part of a circus is something that most people just imagine, a childlike dream, but Jacob actually (supposedly) working on a circus is so fantastical that it could sound like a made up story and therefore sound to others like he is talking out of his head, maybe he avoids bringing it up so he doesn't sound crazy. Like life, the circus is something fleeting, something hard to grasp - boy the things that make me go Mmmmmmmmm. As for him confusing his nurses name with an elephant, well, I've compared some people to animals too :smileywink:
Oh, this is going to be a fun and interesting book!
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


cindersue wrote:
IBIS wrote:
It's a much richer story if Jacob is in full possession of his senses. Although he suffers lapses in memory, he still has a vitally active inner life.
and:

IBIS wrote:
I think reducing this wonderful story to Jacob's mere hallucinations is really depressing. We could use that explanation for sheer fun, but any intelligent reader would know something was "off" if the details didn't add up.

If Sara Gruen gives clues that things are not what they seem, there is no reason to suspect that Jacob is merely reliving youthful fantasies. She makes no suggestions, no allusions, no metaphors to lead us to believe that Jacob is imagining all this.

Granted, circus life is about creating illusions, and fooling the audience. But I don't think Sara Gruen was trying to trick us. The details of circus life are very convincing; the vocabulary the characters use could only be learned by someone who was actually there.

Circus culture is very exclusive. In an interview, Sara Gruen mentions how exclusive circus people are. They are very sensitive to being misunderstood, and made fun of by outsiders. The details of their lives are jealously guarded, and no outsider could imagine the details unless they actually lived that life.

Jacob's flashbacks are amazingly rich in detail. I believe that they are true memories, and not fantasies.


Yes, Jacob has memory loss. He doesn't remember how old he is, he doesn't remember his children's names, he gets his nurse and an elephant names confused. No one is trying to reduce this wonderful story into something depressing. This intelligent reader believes it's possible that his memories could be mixed up. That's reality of our elderly people. How do we know for sure ... only the author knows for sure.


Jacob didn't confuse his nurses name with the elephants name. He was in a half dream state, dreaming about Rosie and the circus and called out Rosie's name as he was remembering her being hurt when the nurse came in to feed him, move him or whatever and she heard him saying Rosie and thought he had confused her name, she said my name isnt Rosie, its Rosemary, and then he realized he had drifted off and worried about what else he may have said that they could have heard. He doesn't know for sure his age but knows for sure if he would get over his embarrassment about it, or worry about what others would think, he could just ask someone what year it is so he could finally settle it in his own mind. Now if he could do that from knowing a year, do the math himself, rather than asking instead, what the heck is my exact age, then he still has some wits about him and he knows it.

Jacob is on the edge of losing some things, he doesnt remember some of his family members but he has generations of them who take turns coming to see him , when they do, and he never really gets to know the youngers ones well. The story is real, if you can say that about a novel lol, lets say Jacob's story is real. The whole story , the whole purpose of it lies in the fact that it is real and he is this age and its all he has left. If you have any doubts as to Sara leaving this as a "maybe the machinations of an old man with Alzheimer's mind", then read her interviews and talks about the book. This is not what the book is about...is the whole story only in the imagination of an aged man or not...its about an old man's real life, what people percieve it to be and what he knows it really was. Its about his secrets he is willing to take to the grave mostly because he made promises. Its about the misperceptions too we have of circus life. Actually its about this misperception right here, that old people can't remember, that all 90 year olds have Alzheimers and that anything the do that is odd must be that! Or that if they forget things, especially when they are left unstimulated by life, that it must be Alzheimers. Its the fallacy that "an elephant never forgets" , but "an old person is always demented". Its WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

VIVICO wrote: Actually its about this misperception right here, that old people can't remember, that all 90 year olds have Alzheimers and that anything the do that is odd must be that! Or that if they forget things, especially when they are left unstimulated by life, that it must be Alzheimers. Its the fallacy that "an elephant never forgets" , but "an old person is always demented". Its WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.


Vivian, I agree with your comment. The old adage that an elephant never forgets is as fallacious as assuming that just because the elderly have memory lapses, they're automatically assumed to be suffering from dementia.

I have first-hand familiarity with the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimers since my mother has been in an Alzheimer's facility for the past 6 years. I stand by my initial response that Jacob does NOT exhibit any Alzheimer's symptoms.

IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Frequent Contributor
cindersue
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎04-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

Viv ... Jacob didn't confuse his nurses name with the elephants name. He was in a half dream state, dreaming about Rosie and the circus and called out Rosie's name as he was remembering her being hurt when the nurse came in to feed him, move him or whatever and she heard him saying Rosie and thought he had confused her name, she said my name isnt Rosie, its Rosemary ...

I stand corrected on Rosie and Rosemary. Yes, he was dreaming.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


cindersue wrote:
Viv ... Jacob didn't confuse his nurses name with the elephants name. He was in a half dream state, dreaming about Rosie and the circus and called out Rosie's name as he was remembering her being hurt when the nurse came in to feed him, move him or whatever and she heard him saying Rosie and thought he had confused her name, she said my name isnt Rosie, its Rosemary ...

I stand corrected on Rosie and Rosemary. Yes, he was dreaming.


lol, hey, easy mistake and ironic too, that we would automatically think he is the one confused about it, rather than the younger nurse huh. :smileywink: See, even at our "young" age, we make memory mistakes hehe.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


IBIS wrote:
VIVICO wrote: Actually its about this misperception right here, that old people can't remember, that all 90 year olds have Alzheimers and that anything the do that is odd must be that! Or that if they forget things, especially when they are left unstimulated by life, that it must be Alzheimers. Its the fallacy that "an elephant never forgets" , but "an old person is always demented". Its WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.


Vivian, I agree with your comment. The old adage that an elephant never forgets is as fallacious as assuming that just because the elderly have memory lapses, they're automatically assumed to be suffering from dementia.

I have first-hand familiarity with the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimers since my mother has been in an Alzheimer's facility for the past 6 years. I stand by my initial response that Jacob does NOT exhibit any Alzheimer's symptoms.

IBIS


He has some signs of the early stages of dementia IBIS, but thats also part of old age. I agree with you, he does not have Alzheimers and statistics show that if you reach the age of 90 without it, the likelyhood of you developing full stage dementia is low. He will most likely die before he goes into that daily confused state, that he even sees in some around him that scares him enough to not do anything to be confused with them by the staff and put with them and also to do mental exercises to be sure to remember some things.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Frequent Contributor
cindersue
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎04-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

There are many different stages of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia according to the medical dictionary and doctors. My mother-in-law was diagnosed 3 years ago with it. She has not progressed rapidly, as was our fear. But she definitely has memory loss, sleeps more and has imagined situations that we know for fact haven't happened.
She tells us these stories like they did. We also see her faking recognition of people or stumbling over words she can't get out correctly to cover for herself. For people who don't know her, they would say, wow, she's doing great. Her family and grandchildren see the changes and we know the truth. I just had breakfast with a man who turned 99. He is phenomenal for his age. He lives by himself and still volunteers for 4 different organizations. His memory is very sharp. If I live that long, I hope I can be just like him.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


cindersue wrote:
There are many different stages of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia according to the medical dictionary and doctors. My mother-in-law was diagnosed 3 years ago with it. She has not progressed rapidly, as was our fear. But she definitely has memory loss, sleeps more and has imagined situations that we know for fact haven't happened.
She tells us these stories like they did. We also see her faking recognition of people or stumbling over words she can't get out correctly to cover for herself. For people who don't know her, they would say, wow, she's doing great. Her family and grandchildren see the changes and we know the truth. I just had breakfast with a man who turned 99. He is phenomenal for his age. He lives by himself and still volunteers for 4 different organizations. His memory is very sharp. If I live that long, I hope I can be just like him.


I know I wont be living to any 99 lol, or not even 90, but as you, I hope my mind is still intact too, especially if i can still take care of myself. My grandmother in the couple of years before she died was in and out of a nursing home. She would be lucid for times then not. I visited her once in the nursing home when she was telling everyone that an Indian chief lived under her bed, tho that day he she said he was sitting in the corner. She always remembered me tho strangely enough and always remembered how much she hated me. I wished she would have forgotten that part. Wasn't anything I did, she hated me because my mother was not married to my father when I was conceived. And she always told me point blank how she felt about me, even when she was younger. Funny out of all the things she never remembered, this was the thing she never forgot. Interesting how the mind works huh.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



cindersue wrote:
There are many different stages of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia according to the medical dictionary and doctors. My mother-in-law was diagnosed 3 years ago with it. She has not progressed rapidly, as was our fear. But she definitely has memory loss, sleeps more and has imagined situations that we know for fact haven't happened.
She tells us these stories like they did. We also see her faking recognition of people or stumbling over words she can't get out correctly to cover for herself. For people who don't know her, they would say, wow, she's doing great. Her family and grandchildren see the changes and we know the truth. I just had breakfast with a man who turned 99. He is phenomenal for his age. He lives by himself and still volunteers for 4 different organizations. His memory is very sharp. If I live that long, I hope I can be just like him.




Maybe we are over analizing this. It's a story. Assume Jacob is remembering his life. Anything else makes the story a farce. There are many levels to this book but I don't think fantasy is one of them. It truly does get one to think about and understand aging. This is one level that is important.

MG
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler/ got a favorite?


fordmg wrote:


cindersue wrote:
There are many different stages of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia according to the medical dictionary and doctors. My mother-in-law was diagnosed 3 years ago with it. She has not progressed rapidly, as was our fear. But she definitely has memory loss, sleeps more and has imagined situations that we know for fact haven't happened.
She tells us these stories like they did. We also see her faking recognition of people or stumbling over words she can't get out correctly to cover for herself. For people who don't know her, they would say, wow, she's doing great. Her family and grandchildren see the changes and we know the truth. I just had breakfast with a man who turned 99. He is phenomenal for his age. He lives by himself and still volunteers for 4 different organizations. His memory is very sharp. If I live that long, I hope I can be just like him.




Maybe we are over analizing this. It's a story. Assume Jacob is remembering his life. Anything else makes the story a farce. There are many levels to this book but I don't think fantasy is one of them. It truly does get one to think about and understand aging. This is one level that is important.

MG


I agree MG. So let me pose a new question here instead. We are beating a dead horse now on that one lol. Since this thread is on the old and young Jacobs, let me ask you all this as readers. Who of the two, did you find more interesting or fun or insightful to read about,the young Jacob or the old? Were their stories equally interesting, completely, or did you find one more so than the other. And as for me, I believe she did a wonderful job of transitioning from one to the other, I never felt lost like you can in some books, but was there any part of the story going on that when she transitioned back to the other character, you thought, wait! Not yet, what just happened or what is going to happen with this one right now! lol So what do you think?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler/ got a favorite?

[ Edited ]
In a way, the old Jacob contains both the younger version and his older one. One of my favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald quotes is, "I will always be the man I am tonight."

The younger Jacob is caught in an emotional and financial strangle-hold; he reacts spontaneously without planning or well-thought-out options for his circumstances. He is such an innocent, protected by his parents of their financial straits, barely out of Cornell, eager-to-please with a puppy-love attachment to Catherine who toys with his emotions. I admired his love and care for the circus animals, and his calling as a vet was well-placed. He is a likeable character, and if he were the only one we meet in the novel, I may have been interested enough in him to finish the book.

But its the older Jacob who is wiser and spunkier and refuses to be bullied. He has definite likes and dislikes. He shows great emotional restraint to keep his 70-year old secret. That alone piqued my curiosity. He reacts with emotional honesty when he catches that lawyer in a lie. His friendship with Rosemary was very touching.

His determination to go to the circus by himself was wonderful. A lesser character would have moped in self-pity when no one came to bring him to the circus. I wanted to applaud him with his struggles to make it to the tent.

Oh yes, the older Jacob was definitely a man to be admired.

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 11-29-2007 05:25 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler/ got a favorite?

[ Edited ]
I enjoyed the way the story skipped back and forth between the old and the new. Sometimes I would be so involved with the story it would take me a second to realize it had switched back. The young Jacob was so naive and was forced to change his goals in life. He faced tragedies and hardships but he doesn't seem to regret the life he led. He worked hard and was loyal and a good person. The old Jacob was also a good person but I don't think everyone knew that about him. He doesn't seem to reveal much about himself to anyone and lets them think what they want. He does have his pride though and is jealous and possessive when McGinty comes along and steals the spotlight. Jacob is frustrated with his memory lapses and his aging body. I don't think he can express his feelings well because he doesn't really understand them. McGinty just adds to his frustration. I want to be careful of spoilers here but I think it would be even more interesting to know the Jacob at the end of the book.

Message Edited by Wrighty on 11-30-2007 02:14 AM
Contributor
noberly
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎11-26-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler/ got a favorite?

I could not agree more, I really liked the flipping back and forth. It gave insight to him then and how he had grown to be the person he was "old".
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs



vivico1 wrote:

noberly wrote:
This was one of the pieces that I found the most interesting. On the one hand, Jacob is young and active. On the other, he is exhibiting many of the signs of Alzhiemer's. I am a firm believer that Alzhiemer's patients know, they just cannot express the way they would like to. This, while not a true story, illustrates this. The guy that said he gave water to the elephants that Jacob knew he did not. Yet, Jacob could not express WHY he knew he could not have done that. The sadness of Jacob's family not showing up when he thought they were suppose to. etc.


I think Jacob could have expressed why he knew McGinty couldn't have done it very easily. I think he didn't because then he would have to explain why he knew and he isnt telling anyone about his life in the circus throughout most of the book,for his own reasons. I don't think him not saying why had anything to do with Alzheimer's at all. Its all there for him to draw up if he choses to. I know older people realize that some things are starting to slip from memory and its hard to deal with and is mostly things in short term memory (recent things,like the names of Jacob's family members), at first at least. Jacob experiences some of this himself and knows its whats happening, but knowing or saying why McGinty is lying is not one of those. Not saying why he knew was strictly a choice to not get into his life in the circus, which he would have to do to explain why he knew.




I wondered why he didn't tell them at the nursing home about his circus life. Maybe there was some memory loss but at times it seems he could have conversed about his circus life.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs


kiakar wrote:


I wondered why he didn't tell them at the nursing home about his circus life. Maybe there was some memory loss but at times it seems he could have conversed about his circus life.


yes it was a choice not to tell them, as you go along you are hearing all about the circus and you know it all too. I think, without giving away the ending here, that he had made promises about some things and even now he intended on keeping them, even when it probably didnt matter, it did to him because he is a man of integrity and loves deeply. He is able to tell someone every bit of it at one point, so its not like he can't, he has made a choice not to.

Something else you said kiakar that is so true and made me think of something. You said, he didn't tell them much about himself and his life and let them think what they wanted to think about him. We see what happens too, that is far too common, a lot of the nurses just see him as another old body in a wheelchair who gets cantankerous with them and who they have to put up with. They dont know that this is his only control over his environment he has left and knows it and needs to "rage against the night" because he is fighting as Shakespeare said, "do not go gently into the night". He is old, fighting for his place in his last years rather than laying down and just giving up. As IBIS said, he could have but he had the courage to get up and go do something he wanted when others might have just given up and sat there in their chairs or gone back to their rooms. But there is one nurse who sees the man in Jacob, the actual person, someone worth knowing, someone with something to say, who feels and cares and responses to kindness with kindness. She is an angel to him and that is Rosemary. She is amazing. I really liked her alot. She "saw" Jacob.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Contributor
Sappho
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎11-21-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

Hi everyone,

This is a great discussion, because we are now focusing on the main theme, that is the process of aging: Sara Gruen definitely wants to us to greet this very contemporary issue/subject/reality of modern life. By setting the era in the Age of the Depression* in America, she pins us down: What do we do with our old people, each individual person who is aged? How do "we" think of "them," how do we accept or not accept them into "Our society,"
When and where do we choose to let them go, how do we perceive their own choice of when and where and how they wish to go? What do we think of dying, how do we as a society perceive death, how do we choose to accept death, and its consequences?-

All of these are real questions, problems for us in today's world, especially here in America, where we have struggled with the matter (socialized medicine, elderly care, health and aging, hospice, home care, elderly education, ability to continue working and contributing to societyetc.)for so long, and find it rearing its (ugly or not, it is reality)head at this very moment. (even the politicians are finding it rewarding to their own precarious careers to finally start addressing the issue. )

What I want us to comment upon is the levels to which we are willing to rise in order to address the situation. In our times, we have people living for a much longer time: how do we make sure they are living healthily (excuse the formed word!) and how do we honor their experience, their wisdom, and not simply relegate them to our bi-monthly visits?
The relative/symbolic use of the *Depression Era, in Water for Elephants, I believe, gives us a chance to formulate a new solution: instead of just "throwing people off the train," or letting them wander, homeless, unwanted along the tracks, with no family to go home to, in the wasteland of America's indifference, What can we learn from these elderly humans, so like us, so wonderful, so full of Godliness and Faith? (herein may lie the connotational use of the biblical name Jacob, in a simple answer to that famous question!)
Sara Gruen's hint about attitudes toward aging and death is definitely up-lifting, hopeful. but I wouldn't want to go further, as some have not finished the book.
Sincerely, Colleen, age 50.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


Sappho wrote:
Hi everyone,

This is a great discussion, because we are now focusing on the main theme, that is the process of aging: Sara Gruen definitely wants to us to greet this very contemporary issue/subject/reality of modern life. By setting the era in the Age of the Depression* in America, she pins us down: What do we do with our old people, each individual person who is aged? How do "we" think of "them," how do we accept or not accept them into "Our society,"


What I want us to comment upon is the levels to which we are willing to rise in order to address the situation. In our times, we have people living for a much longer time: how do we make sure they are living healthily (excuse the formed word!) and how do we honor their experience, their wisdom, and not simply relegate them to our bi-monthly visits?
The relative/symbolic use of the *Depression Era, in Water for Elephants, I believe, gives us a chance to formulate a new solution: instead of just "throwing people off the train," or letting them wander, homeless, unwanted along the tracks, with no family to go home to, in the wasteland of America's indifference, What can we learn from these elderly humans, so like us, so wonderful, so full of Godliness and Faith? (herein may lie the connotational use of the biblical name Jacob, in a simple answer to that famous question!)
Sara Gruen's hint about attitudes toward aging and death is definitely up-lifting, hopeful. but I wouldn't want to go further, as some have not finished the book.
Sincerely, Colleen, age 50.


I am not so sure the MAIN theme of this book, is how we treat the elderly or even about aging. I think thats the vehicle she uses to tell the story and that thats only a part of it. Even at that, I think it is symbolic of more then issues of elderly care. I think the book would have had much much more interaction with the old Jacob and his life if that had been it. The majority of it is not actually. Maybe the bigger question if we are going to get philisophical about this book is, what do each, the old and the young, jacob represent?

As for myself, even this question I think I will put off till the end of the discussion and we share more ideas and feelings about the book. We have just scratched the surface so far and theres a lot in the book to talk about and scenes to discuss and have fun with. So I will wait lol. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Users Online
Currently online: 45 members 283 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: