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Carmenere_lady
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

[ Edited ]

vivico1 wrote:
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.


Yes, that is true Vivico and it seems to me that
Jacob, young or old, seems to have this quality throughout his life. We see young Jacob in Chapter 2, he has just lost his parents, lost his home, lost his potential practice, and yet when he is holding on to the handles of a speeding freight car and is sooooo close to a certain death he chooses the uncertain life and musters the strength to bring himself to safety. This Jacob is a fighter! and I like this guy. :smileywink:


Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 12-01-2007 06:31 AM
Lynda

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kiakar
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs



vivico1 wrote:

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.




Yes, Viv, I loved Rosemary. That is how all caregivers should be, but I know its difficult to remain that way. My mother and my aunt had caregivers like that. Thank heavens, they are scattered here and there for people to receive scents of happiness,
for at the point of a nursing home, a person doesn't receive alot of affection from all their caregivers.
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Peppermill
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs - Professional Caregivers


kiakar wrote:Yes, Viv, I loved Rosemary. That is how all caregivers should be, but I know its difficult to remain that way. My mother and my aunt had caregivers like that. Thank heavens, they are scattered here and there for people to receive scents of happiness, for at the point of a nursing home, a person doesn't receive a lot of affection from all their caregivers.
So very true, Kiakar. Certainly one of the challenges, perhaps especially in more populous areas, is that nursing homes require such people-intensive work that they must try to obtain as low-cost labor as possible. I think it behooves all of us, whether we have loved ones in such circumstances or know we will likely one day find ourselves in such an environment, to remember and even develop traits that cherish and respect all people -- even cranky and overworked ones. I think it neat that Jacob made an effort to read Rosemary's name tag (p. 11, p. 65) and to remember her name (p. 105).

The one in the story who does frustrate me is Dr. Rashid. She should have been better trained. (p. 68) The "skinny nurse with the horse face" is such a wicked, humorous (humorless?) stereotype, only too easy to recognize!

This certainly points up the market opportunity for food for institutional settings, but that has been around for so long and is so many places! What can be done?
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Rachel-K
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

[ Edited ]

Carmenere_lady wrote:

vivico1 wrote:
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.


Yes, that is true Vivico and it seems to me that
Jacob, young or old, seems to have this quality throughout his life. We see young Jacob in Chapter 2, he has just lost his parents, lost his home, lost his potential practice, and yet when he is holding on to the handles of a speeding freight car and is sooooo close to a certain death he chooses the uncertain life and musters the strength to bring himself to safety. This Jacob is a fighter! and I like this guy. :smileywink:


Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 12-01-2007 06:31 AM





I also thought this aspect of his personality came through so clean and clear from the outset--both in his older and younger portraits.

Message Edited by rkubie on 12-02-2007 11:10 PM
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vivico1
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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.


I like that we are talking about the old and the young Jacobs now and comparing them and who we liked better :smileywink: but today I went back through some of these threads and our interesting comments on this one in particular and maybe its because its Sunday, I dont know lol, but I feel a need to go back for a moment and say something. I read all these again and we had some pretty strong opinions on whether this all could have been a hallucination of an old man or not and I definitely don't believe that the case or Sara would have brought it to that in the conclusion, or maybe in one of her discussions of the book. It doesnt appear to be her purpose for the book. So I really went on about, no no, its not that so get over it , kind of talk.

So rereading some of us, I want to say something, since sometimes things don't sound the same in writing as maybe we mean them. I love debate, and I will stand my ground in a debate lol, BUT, sometimes things sounded a bit rude actually when I went back and reread some of these, so I want to say now about this part of the thread...if in the way I pushed the idea that it all really happened to Jacob, I sounded like a snob or sounded like I was putting down anyone's ideas, I publicly apologize here. The idea that you put out there Cindy, that could this be the hallucinations of an Alzheimer's patient, which if you think about it, could even make the whole book a "Water for Elephants" last surprise to the reader, was a fair question and maybe others think its a possibility that maybe some of us shut down that conversation by our insistence on our ideas (and yes I stick to mine lol) but I never meant to offend anyone and hope I didn't. I love debate. Also as you say in your post here about yourself, "This intelligent reader believes it's possible that his memories could be mixed up." I just got what you were saying and I want you to know cindersue, I KNOW for a fact, you are a very intelligent woman, and I have been lucky to meet you and count you as a friend. I enjoy your thoughts and posts and even when we dont agree or even argue a point, I would fight for your right to say your ideas, because you are at least a thinking person wanting to share something. You are sharp, funny and I also know you have to deal with someone who has Alzheimers. I just wanted to say to you and to anyone on this thread in particular, that if during this part of the discussion I in any way offended you or any other club member, please accept my apologies. Hey, your question was at least good enough to get a good feud going over it lol. You truly are one of the most intelligent and caring people I know and it was an intelligent "what if" question to poise as something else to consider.

I will tell you something else too, I am positive in my own reading that these are real experiences for Jacob but why not speculate and see what everyone thinks, after all, like we have all notice, Sara herself ask that darn question about how is this story and this Jacob like the story and the Jacob in the bible? and we are all going HUH?? what the?? So in all actuality, lol, this could have been an old man's memories on his way out and to her it should be as obvious to us as that stupid Jacob/bible question is, when it isnt LOL. SO hey, I have to give you this, its something to think about lol. How funny, what if she meant it that way and said well didnt you get that? its as clear as the simile to the bible story i asked you all about ROFL! :smileywink:
Vivian
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noberly
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

I, personally, never felt offended and I too like a good debate. While I definitely do not believe that he was making up the "young" Jacob, I still believe he was fading in and out in his thinking but was never really able to convey that. And, having lived through it with my grandmother I still feel like there is Alzheimer's involved. But, that is my opinion. It is not a fact. (I was 40 when she passed; 42 when my last grandmother died. So, it was not something I experienced as a kid. I was blessed to have my great-grandfather at my wedding.)

And, the other piece of this which is part of the topic now, is the care given to older people. This is so true. One must watch, visit and report abuse. I was not able to tell whether old Jacob had this. I was unable to capture whether he had forgotten whether they came or whether they just did not come. It seemed like it faded in and out on both sides of the coin.

I also see the "survivalist" in both the young and old Jacob. But, he also had a tendency to run away such as he did when his parents' died. So, was he running away in his memories? (note: I said "memories" not "fantasy". lol)

I remember when I was in college studying psychology years ago, they took us to a nursing home. The idea was to teach that however we were at 18 is how we would be when we are 80, only more so. If we are ornery when we are 18; we will be more ornery when we are 80. There were two women in their late 40's that were catatonic and the doctors did not really understand the reasons for it. Best they could tell, there was no physical reason for it although, it was physical that initially brought them there. There was a 90 year old lady who had an 80 year old boyfriend, who was incredibly ornery, down the hall. They were going to get married but she would have lost her Social Security. There was a man in his 90's that had died on an operating room table and they brought him back after about 5 minutes. He was not able to function or communicate but could breath on his own.

And, that is where we get into the the older person's rights both, to live and to die with dignity.
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

I too love a good debate. I assume good intentions, and don't ordinarily assume that someone else's disagreements are personal.

One point that I thought about reading WATER TO ELEPHANTS is that we don't meet any of Jacob's children or grandchildren, so we can't really tell what they thought of his treatment there. Jacob doesn't need acute care from a heart-attack or stroke, nor does he seem close to death.

In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Jacob other than old age. I wonder why they put him in a nursing home in the first place?

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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



IBIS wrote:
In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Jacob other than old age. I wonder why they put him in a nursing home in the first place?

IBIS




Much as I hate to say this - he lived too long. His five children are already grandparents themselves, with their own sets of health issues and family problems. I don't know if this is an indictment against the "nuclear families" that our society has developed into or not, but it seems like historically there have been cultures that managed to incorporate the aging into their daily lives without limitation (I'm thinking about early native Americans as an example). Jacob makes a very relevant and astute observation about his own family that I think is generally applicable today.

"I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page. If I don't know what's going on in their lives, how am I supposed to insert myself in the conversation?"

Or into their lives? Are they/Do we really do this to protect the aging? Or is it that we just don't have the time to include them in our busy lives? Of course if they have a true debility that warrants their exclusion, that's another matter. But for someone who is as coherent as Jacob appears, why could he not be someone to talk to about problems and seek advise from? He certainly lived long enough to have encountered quite a few situations. And conversely, is Jacob refusing to communicate with them because they leave him out of their lives and experiences? (There's that stubborn streak again.) We don't know enough about his relationship with his children, but (and this is purely conjecture) is it possible that he laid the first few bricks in this wall?
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



ELee wrote:


IBIS wrote:
In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Jacob other than old age. I wonder why they put him in a nursing home in the first place?

IBIS




Much as I hate to say this - he lived too long. His five children are already grandparents themselves, with their own sets of health issues and family problems. I don't know if this is an indictment against the "nuclear families" that our society has developed into or not, but it seems like historically there have been cultures that managed to incorporate the aging into their daily lives without limitation (I'm thinking about early native Americans as an example). Jacob makes a very relevant and astute observation about his own family that I think is generally applicable today.

"I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page. If I don't know what's going on in their lives, how am I supposed to insert myself in the conversation?"

Or into their lives? Are they/Do we really do this to protect the aging? Or is it that we just don't have the time to include them in our busy lives? Of course if they have a true debility that warrants their exclusion, that's another matter. But for someone who is as coherent as Jacob appears, why could he not be someone to talk to about problems and seek advise from? He certainly lived long enough to have encountered quite a few situations. And conversely, is Jacob refusing to communicate with them because they leave him out of their lives and experiences? (There's that stubborn streak again.) We don't know enough about his relationship with his children, but (and this is purely conjecture) is it possible that he laid the first few bricks in this wall?




Just thought of one more thing to add to the above. While Jacob's extended family probably thought they were doing the best possible thing by "tag-teaming" visits to the nursing home, wouldn't it have made a world of difference if one relative had taken a special interest and made more frequent visits? It seemed that the more he was around Rosemary, and the more he made an effort, he was able to remember her name and keep her in his mind as an individual. That kind of relationship can only be a good thing.
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


ELee wrote:


"I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page. If I don't know what's going on in their lives, how am I supposed to insert myself in the conversation?"

Or into their lives? Are they/Do we really do this to protect the aging? Or is it that we just don't have the time to include them in our busy lives?

Just thought of one more thing to add to the above. While Jacob's extended family probably thought they were doing the best possible thing by "tag-teaming" visits to the nursing home, wouldn't it have made a world of difference if one relative had taken a special interest and made more frequent visits? It seemed that the more he was around Rosemary, and the more he made an effort, he was able to remember her name and keep her in his mind as an individual. That kind of relationship can only be a good thing.


You know, I found Jacob's talking about "protective exclusion" spot on. And there is no reason to do this with him, I think your right, they are excluding him from their lives by doing so. You know, this can apply to others besides the elderly too. Ever see how people react to someone with severe MS in a wheel chair, shaking, talking but only the ones with them can understand them now and so others talk to them, almost like they are children, or like they are hard of hearing, or worse, dont talk to them but over their head to the one who does understand them, like the MS person cant understand them! People are often as uncomfortable around the elderly unfortunately as they are unfortunately too around someone with MS and similar things.

I remember the first time, when I was younger that this happened to me and I couldnt understand the young man in the wheel chair with MS or something similar and I was uncomfortable and even embarrassed. I didnt know what to do and acted stupid I am sure, but it taught me one thing. When I met a young woman in college in a wheel chair and very hard to understand and head shaking so much, I absolutely knew by this time that she was all their mentally, just her body wasn't cooperating. So I said to her when we were sitting by each other waiting for a class. I said ok Jan, heres the deal, you have an advantage on me and it makes me uncomfortable and so tell me how to get around it. She just looked at me, with her head just shaking real bad. I said, I know you know every darn thing I am saying and I know you can tell I appear uncomfortable with this, but hey, thats not fair that you know every darn thing I am saying and I can't figure out half of what you are saying, you have an advantage over me that for all I know you are calling me all kinds of stuff and I am just saying uh huh, uh huh and you are laughing your head off at me! I said it with a raised eyebrow and a smile and her eyes lit up and she laughed so hard I thought her head was going to bop off lol. So she said really slow, I will talk slow and you will learn. I repeated it back to her to see if i had it right, I did, and I said ok that will work. I looked at her and she still had that glint in her eye. I sat there for a moment and then I said, your still laughing at me arent ya. She giggled, then I got tickled and said yeah, just cause you got to talk slooww to the grad student so they can understand English and she was just cracking up again. I got over my feeling uncomfortable with humor and she did have a wonderful sense of humor and we had some frustrating times too, but we had a good semester together too.

I think we are too much in a hurry and too uncomfortable around the elderly to just spend time with them, especially ones with as much of their wits about them as Jacob has. And as one older writer (cant think of his name) once said.. no one is comfortably around the aged, we remind them of death . lol. He was being sarcastic but true.


OH, as for the tag teaming vs one member of the family visiting more often. It might be the ideal situation for one to be the primary visitor, but I think realistically ELee, for many families, tag teaming is the best they can do if anyone is to visit much at all.
Vivian
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IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

ELee wrote:
I don't know if this is an indictment against the "nuclear families" that our society has developed into or not, but it seems like historically there have been cultures that managed to incorporate the aging into their daily lives without limitation (I'm thinking about early native Americans as an example).

There is a lot of positive things to be said about our society's "nuclear families"; but one major disadvantage is not being close to the elderly in our daily lives.

I grew up in Cambodia within an Asian culture. I lived within an extended family of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews who all lived closely together in the same village.

In hindsight, there were lots of advantages to that family arrangement: the elderly shared their life stories with their grandchildren, no problems with baby sitting; but then again, there were also some major negatives; no privacy, no independence, constant squabbling, etc.

Isn't it amazing that we've come so far technologically, scientifically and medically, and yet the basic solutions to family dynamics is still outside our grasp?

IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

IBIS wrote:
In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Jacob other than old age. I wonder why they put him in a nursing home in the first place?

IBIS

Refresh my memory, was Jacob in a wheel chair when he was put in the nursing home? I can't remember clearly, but I don't think he was. He progressed with his age perhaps. Now his care may be too hard to manage in regards to bathing and moving him from the bed to the chair. Two out of three of my family members with cancer were very difficult to move. They were under Hospice care, so we did take care of them at home. My mother was mobile until the last days of her death. No one in my family has ever been in a nursing home. Back in their day, it was understood that older members would be taken care of. Nursing homes weren't as prevalent then as they are today. That also comes with the growing population of elderly, and the mobility of people/families. Families stayed in their "home towns" and didn't move around as freely as we do today.
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


cindersue wrote:
IBIS wrote:
In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Jacob other than old age. I wonder why they put him in a nursing home in the first place?

IBIS

Refresh my memory, was Jacob in a wheel chair when he was put in the nursing home? I can't remember clearly, but I don't think he was. He progressed with his age perhaps. Now his care may be too hard to manage in regards to bathing and moving him from the bed to the chair. Two out of three of my family members with cancer were very difficult to move. They were under Hospice care, so we did take care of them at home. My mother was mobile until the last days of her death. No one in my family has ever been in a nursing home. Back in their day, it was understood that older members would be taken care of. Nursing homes weren't as prevalent then as they are today. That also comes with the growing population of elderly, and the mobility of people/families. Families stayed in their "home towns" and didn't move around as freely as we do today.


Good thing to think about here. Without checking the very very first of the book, seems to me Jacob is in a wheelchair but can walk with a walker. Remember when he wanted to go sit by the window and was going to walk over to it and they came rushing to wheel him down there and one nurse was not going to give him back his walker and Rosemary made her go get it. He says he doesn't like them helping him in and out of the shower but admits that he does need help in the bathtub I think. I think too that he said some of his family was worried about him falling with his walker and breaking a hip, someone was and he admitted if he did fall it was a good possibility. Something else that i thought we should mention in his care that we have just kind of let slide really is something that I know some of you are familiar with..remember he is actually in the part called "assisted living" and it is different and he knows it and doesnt want to wind up in the other side, the nursing home part cause he feels that is much worse and so are the people who go there so he knows hes going down hill if he has to go there. I think Jacob did need the help of assisted living. I think he could have lived at home tho, with the right person but I think physically, he would need to have someone who was home with him at all times and that may be why he is here. He's not there for Alzheimers (yet anyway) but hes got an old frail body and he does need help.
Vivian
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

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.




I don't think it was memory loss. There must be another reason. He didn't seem to talk about his personal life much, even though it wasn't a bad life after he was settled. The first circus experience was tramatic for him and only lasted one summer. Then he went on to better things. I don't think he wanted anyone to know about that time. It was related to the secret of Rosie, so he couldn't talk about his love of the animal to others.

MG
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



IBIS wrote:
I too love a good debate. I assume good intentions, and don't ordinarily assume that someone else's disagreements are personal.

One point that I thought about reading WATER TO ELEPHANTS is that we don't meet any of Jacob's children or grandchildren, so we can't really tell what they thought of his treatment there. Jacob doesn't need acute care from a heart-attack or stroke, nor does he seem close to death.

In other words, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with Jacob other than old age. I wonder why they put him in a nursing home in the first place?

IBIS




Not a nursing home - Assisted Living - there is a big difference. Apparently none of his children had time, space, or money to take them into their own home but he needed some help. Assisted Living is a nice alternative.
MG
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IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

I agree that old Jacob's refusal to talk about his circus life has a lot to do with the secret he kept for 70 years. He had to be ever vigilant, especially with his memory lapses, not to reveal his secret. He had to swallow his urge to boast, especially when he wanted to expose McGuinty's lies about carrying water for elephants.

It must have been so tempting for him to talk about his circus life; but under intense questioning by his listeners, he could so easily let his secret slip. So he chose not to talk about his circus life at all.

I imagine keeping a secret for so long must have weighed very heavily on his mind. This amazing restraint on his part reveals what a loyal friend Jacob has been throughout his life.

IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possible spoiler

I agree that old Jacob's refusal to talk about his circus life has a lot to do with the secret he kept for 70 years. He had to be ever vigilant, especially with his memory lapses, not to reveal his secret. He had to swallow his urge to boast, especially when he wanted to expose McGuinty's lies about carrying water for elephants.

It must have been so tempting for him to talk about his circus life; but under intense questioning by his listeners, he could so easily let his secret slip. So he chose not to talk about his circus life at all.

I imagine keeping a secret for so long must have weighed very heavily on his mind. This amazing restraint on his part reveals what a loyal friend Jacob has been throughout his life.

IBIS
12-04-2007 10:40 AM

He kept this secret for 70 years, yet he thought about the circus all the time. For a short experience, it really meant alot to him. So was the secret kept for Rosie or for the fear he'd lose Marlena? Maybe no one would believe them that the elephant could do that. That's what I think. What a story he could have shared with his family members and how sad he didn't get to, especially since it seemed to be a famous event among circus people. I hope he kept a diary for others to read when he passed. :smileywink:
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possible spoiler

If I have it right, I think Jacob was recovering from a fall in the nursing home, and that it was the reason he was put into the home in the first place. It's an excellent point that his own children are around 70 years old themselves! And his children (I think they are all named for the Biblical Jacob's children) are the parents and grandparents of the many who are visiting him, and he just can't keep the names of this generation straight. I love that we find out the "young girl," Rosemary, is 50!

And this is a fantastic conversation about how the elderly don't fit into our culture. Isn't it interesting that those who have experienced *everything* we feel is most important in our lives--love, hatred, scandal, sickness, each of a life's stages, success, failure--are the people we leave out of our conversations, those we "speak over the heads of" as Vivian said. It makes real Cassandras of them.
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Popper19
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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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.




It never occurred to me to not believe Jacob's stories. For my own sake I'm choosing to continue to believe them, but I do acknowledge that Jacob did seem to be failing somewhat in his other memories as you state. I am to much of a happy ending kind of gal to believe that he imagined everything.

Regarding anothe post about why Jacob did not tell about his being in the circus; I think maybe he would have told the old ladies if the other man didn't beat him to the punch. He didn't have a chance to say anything about the circus before the new guy started spouting his lies. Maybe Jacob tells us the story rather than the old ladies because the new guy stold his thunder. It would have been a perfect way to make a great impression on the old ladies, but he didn't get the chance! If he would have said, this guys lying, but I was really involved in the circus, it would have made him just look like an idiot in front of all his friends at "his" table.
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


Popper19 wrote:


It never occurred to me to not believe Jacob's stories. For my own sake I'm choosing to continue to believe them, but I do acknowledge that Jacob did seem to be failing somewhat in his other memories as you state. I am to much of a happy ending kind of gal to believe that he imagined everything.

Regarding anothe post about why Jacob did not tell about his being in the circus; I think maybe he would have told the old ladies if the other man didn't beat him to the punch. He didn't have a chance to say anything about the circus before the new guy started spouting his lies. Maybe Jacob tells us the story rather than the old ladies because the new guy stold his thunder. It would have been a perfect way to make a great impression on the old ladies, but he didn't get the chance! If he would have said, this guys lying, but I was really involved in the circus, it would have made him just look like an idiot in front of all his friends at "his" table.


I got to disagree. I dont think it would have made him look like an idiot to tell them. He actually was in the circus, he could have debunked McGinty in short order and yes had women hanging around him even more, but thats not Jacob's nature. He made a promise to keep a secret and he is a man, as IBIS points out on another thread, of strong integrity, and even tho no one would be hurt now by telling the secret, he will keep his word. He does to the point of worrying if he said too much when he was half sleeping that one time and Rosemary thought he called her Rosie, he worried that something else might slip out if he were not careful. Its not Jacob's style to do this to impress the ladies, and break a promise. If he wanted to impress the ladies by his circus days, he could have done that long before McGinty came. This is about his very nature, not to tell, even at the cost of his social order.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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