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Rachel-K
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Old and Young Jacobs

What do we get from hearing the voices of Jacob as a young man interspersed with his voice at the end of his life? What more do we learn about him than we could have known if we had heard the story from only one or the other of these voices?
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs


rkubie wrote:
What do we get from hearing the voices of Jacob as a young man interspersed with his voice at the end of his life? What more do we learn about him than we could have known if we had heard the story from only one or the other of these voices?


Well I wouldn't say one of the voices, when he is old, is "at the end of his life" lol :smileywink:. Hey, he's old, but not dead yet lol. You know, I thought the two stories, that of the young Jacob and that of the old, were so well written, they could stand alone and still be good stories. I think following just the young Jacob, to where ever it ended, be it, well dont want to put a spoiler here, so whether it was where it pretty much did end that part of his life, or whether it had followed through until his old age, I don't think we would have lost much, just hearing it from him. On the other hand, to just hear the old Jacob's story, without knowing his story as a young man would not have been near as exciting or help you come to know him and who he is an an old man and why, nearly as well. Even tho his story as as an old man, like I say really stood on its own too, without knowing the young side, what we would have lost is, what we came to know about him that those around him in his old age didn't. We would have been kind of like them, finding him interesting, but really not knowing why, or at least not all of the why and thats really something to think about when we meet the elderly in or out of a nursing home. They probably got a great story that they may not be able to tell now, or chose not to about themselves.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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noberly
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

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.
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs


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.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

I agree, Vivian, that Old Jacob doesn't exhibit signs of Alzheimer's. He is suffering from increasing memory loss. Which is a normal symptom of old age. After all, the guy's 90 or 93 (do we ever find out his real age?)

For a man of his age, his mental faculties are amazing! What spunk! I hope to have all my wits about me at his age!
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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noberly
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

Mental yes. But, it is obvious he is not able to outwardly express himself. He does alot of expression through what he is thinking. But, he is not very good and physically expressing himself, verbally or otherwise. If he does, it is usually in ways that do not actually express what it is he is thinking...like being mean or not eating. These are all very typical for Alzheimer's. Watched my grandmother go through it for 6 years.
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noberly
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

Alzheimer's is not just short term or long term memory loss. It can also fade in and out. They can be very lucid and in the moment one day and very out of it the next. That is what I see with old Jacob. But, it depends on the person as to how they react.

I watched my grandmother go through it for about 6 years. And, it was interesting when I would spend time at the nursing home's Alzheimer's unit. It was interesting to watch the different people and how they would respond and react. Some you could not even tell they had it and yet you knew, otherwise, they could not be in that unit. Others it was very obvious.
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs


noberly wrote:
Mental yes. But, it is obvious he is not able to outwardly express himself. He does alot of expression through what he is thinking. But, he is not very good and physically expressing himself, verbally or otherwise. If he does, it is usually in ways that do not actually express what it is he is thinking...like being mean or not eating. These are all very typical for Alzheimer's. Watched my grandmother go through it for 6 years.


No, what I mean is, he COULD tell them about why McGinty is lying if he wanted to, he does have the verbal ability. His mind is sharp about the past and he can have coherent talks. He can verbally express himself fine when he wants to,whether its to be sarcastic with a mean nurse or the conversations he has with Rosemary, he can express himself. I said he does know he is heading into Alzheimers and worries about it, so does mental exercises to try to stay sharp. Part of the meanness or not eating, isnt always Alzheimers, its just flat the last way to fit back at a world that has control over you, especially in a nursing home and as he says, like at his age and in a wheel chair, he's really going to actually jump McGinty? Nothing is physically keeping him from telling anyone why McGinty is lying, he has the capability, thats a whole part of the story, why he won't tell. He won't because as someone pointed out about the prologue, he's got a secret that he seems ready to tell us now.Well he has kept this secret of the circus from them in the home so thats why he doesnt tell how he knows McGinty is lying, not Alzheimers. It really is part of the story plot.
Vivian
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IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs

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. I prefer to imagine that he has incredibly rich memories of his youth, and the flashbacks in the circus are his lucid memories. He is reliving what was part of circus history in the making.

If he is suffering from incipient Alzheimer's, that would weaken the emotional richness of his life, and therefore the story. The author would have reduced him to an elderly man sinking into a disease of which he has no control. His old age already causes him enough heart-ache, so being riddled with Alzheimer's merely adds to a perception of him being a "victim".

And I cannot for the life of me see Jacob as a victim. He's definitely a survivor.

The plot is much more vibrant and energetic with an elderly Jacob who is merely old, but still healthy emotionally and mentally. Running away to the circus at 90 (or 93) is much more exciting if you actually choose to do so; how tame and boring it would be if you are merely dragged into it.

What do you think?

IBIS
IBIS

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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs (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. I prefer to imagine that he has incredibly rich memories of his youth, and the flashbacks in the circus are his lucid memories. He is reliving what was part of circus history in the making.

If he is suffering from incipient Alzheimer's, that would weaken the emotional richness of his life, and therefore the story. The author would have reduced him to an elderly man sinking into a disease of which he has no control. His old age already causes him enough heart-ache, so being riddled with Alzheimer's merely adds to a perception of him being a "victim".

And I cannot for the life of me see Jacob as a victim. He's definitely a survivor.

The plot is much more vibrant and energetic with an elderly Jacob who is merely old, but still healthy emotionally and mentally. Running away to the circus at 90 (or 93) is much more exciting if you actually choose to do so; how tame and boring it would be if you are merely dragged into it.

What do you think?

IBIS


You are right IBIS, and I think *****spoiler to ending warning*******, had Jacob just been an old man deep into Alzheimer's, the circus guy would not have been willing to take him with him, because he would NOT have been able to tell him all the stories he did, or reason with him as to why he should go instead of stay, like he did. That part in itself shows that Jacob did indeed have the ability and all his facilities to get across what he wanted. Which goes back to the fact that it was his "choice" not to tell them how he knew McGinty was lying, not that he couldn't. He told this man everything. He knew he was starting to lose some things, it worried him but he was also very much aware to keep on his toes, even not to throw too much of a fit, or he might wind up in the place where he said the blubbering woman waiting by him at the door should go and then made a note to himself not to act to upset himself or HE might go there too! LOL. He was a smart old man with a secret is all. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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cindersue
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



noberly wrote:
Alzheimer's is not just short term or long term memory loss. It can also fade in and out. They can be very lucid and in the moment one day and very out of it the next. That is what I see with old Jacob. But, it depends on the person as to how they react.

I watched my grandmother go through it for about 6 years. And, it was interesting when I would spend time at the nursing home's Alzheimer's unit. It was interesting to watch the different people and how they would respond and react. Some you could not even tell they had it and yet you knew, otherwise, they could not be in that unit. Others it was very obvious.




I agree, memory loss fades in and out. I'm going thru this with my mother-in-law. She told me last Sunday she just got her car filled up the other day, couldn't believe the gas prices. She hasn't driven in two years. And she said she had made a big pot of chili in her kitchen. She doesn't even have a burner, just a microwave. The doctor told me that ALZ patients tend to hallucinate. There are other situations where she believed she was talking to someone or was somewhere, and wasn't. So this brings up an important question. Was Jacob hallucinating or did he really join the circus? hmmmmmmmm interesting :smileywink:

POSSIBLY SPOILER: Did the story end the way it did, or did he drift off to his death, thinking he did go to the circus?
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


cindersue wrote:


noberly wrote:
Alzheimer's is not just short term or long term memory loss. It can also fade in and out. They can be very lucid and in the moment one day and very out of it the next. That is what I see with old Jacob. But, it depends on the person as to how they react.

I watched my grandmother go through it for about 6 years. And, it was interesting when I would spend time at the nursing home's Alzheimer's unit. It was interesting to watch the different people and how they would respond and react. Some you could not even tell they had it and yet you knew, otherwise, they could not be in that unit. Others it was very obvious.




I agree, memory loss fades in and out. I'm going thru this with my mother-in-law. She told me last Sunday she just got her car filled up the other day, couldn't believe the gas prices. She hasn't driven in two years. And she said she had made a big pot of chili in her kitchen. She doesn't even have a burner, just a microwave. The doctor told me that ALZ patients tend to hallucinate. There are other situations where she believed she was talking to someone or was somewhere, and wasn't. So this brings up an important question. Was Jacob hallucinating or did he really join the circus? hmmmmmmmm interesting :smileywink:

POSSIBLY SPOILER: Did the story end the way it did, or did he drift off to his death, thinking he did go to the circus?


Well Cindy, just try to spoil the whole great ending of the book, by making us wonder if he's just in lala land LOL :smileywink:. IF he just drifted off, then maybe EVERTHING he saw in the book was a hallucination and not his life. 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! Like IBIS had said before, what a dull book that would be, or sad to read a story just about someone sinking into the abyss and thats it. This is not the banker's version of the revealing episode of "Who Shot JR, shower dream" LOL. Though that would have been some ending to have him die and his family at the funeral talking about him as a banker (or whatever) and maybe his wife was still alive too and this whole other story of who he really was, but someone bring out a circus snowglobe and mention that the one passion he always had and never got to do, was work with the circus and then shake the snowglobe lol lol, and instead of saying "Rosebud" lol have an elephant in it named "Rosie" ROFL!!! OK, now snap out of it with these other endings LOL. It is what it is and its good! lol :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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noberly
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



cindersue wrote:


noberly wrote:
Alzheimer's is not just short term or long term memory loss. It can also fade in and out. They can be very lucid and in the moment one day and very out of it the next. That is what I see with old Jacob. But, it depends on the person as to how they react.

I watched my grandmother go through it for about 6 years. And, it was interesting when I would spend time at the nursing home's Alzheimer's unit. It was interesting to watch the different people and how they would respond and react. Some you could not even tell they had it and yet you knew, otherwise, they could not be in that unit. Others it was very obvious.




I agree, memory loss fades in and out. I'm going thru this with my mother-in-law. She told me last Sunday she just got her car filled up the other day, couldn't believe the gas prices. She hasn't driven in two years. And she said she had made a big pot of chili in her kitchen. She doesn't even have a burner, just a microwave. The doctor told me that ALZ patients tend to hallucinate. There are other situations where she believed she was talking to someone or was somewhere, and wasn't. So this brings up an important question. Was Jacob hallucinating or did he really join the circus? hmmmmmmmm interesting :smileywink:

POSSIBLY SPOILER: Did the story end the way it did, or did he drift off to his death, thinking he did go to the circus?




What a great other way to think about it.

I'm not in agreement with the fact of slipping into ALZ is "sad" or a "victim". It is actually a sad disease on one hand, but, it is also an interesting one if you watch the people and know them. In many ways they do not change and, in other ways, they do.

Example: My grandmother was very good as a business woman and ahead of her time in many ways. But, she was also somewhat mean. As she slipped into ALZ, another side came out. At one point she was enjoying a cake I had made her for her birthday and asked, "Who made the cake?" I told her with a grin, "Betty Crocker." She looked at me with a sly smile and said, "I know you are pulling something on me. I just don't know what." So, she knew I was teasing her. She just couldn't quite communicate it to the full extent and could not remember who Betty Crocker was.

And, that is what I believe Jacob did. He knew. And, thoughts were there. Just couldn't quite express it except in his mind.

But, that is the fun of books. You bring your experiences to it and can come out with something completely different than someone else.
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vivico1
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler


noberly wrote:

What a great other way to think about it.

I'm not in agreement with the fact of slipping into ALZ is "sad" or a "victim". It is actually a sad disease on one hand, but, it is also an interesting one if you watch the people and know them. In many ways they do not change and, in other ways, they do.

Example: My grandmother was very good as a business woman and ahead of her time in many ways. But, she was also somewhat mean. As she slipped into ALZ, another side came out. At one point she was enjoying a cake I had made her for her birthday and asked, "Who made the cake?" I told her with a grin, "Betty Crocker." She looked at me with a sly smile and said, "I know you are pulling something on me. I just don't know what." So, she knew I was teasing her. She just couldn't quite communicate it to the full extent and could not remember who Betty Crocker was.

And, that is what I believe Jacob did. He knew. And, thoughts were there. Just couldn't quite express it except in his mind.

But, that is the fun of books. You bring your experiences to it and can come out with something completely different than someone else.


Yeah I guess so cause I didn't see any place in the book that I can think of where Jacob could not express what he wanted to, he just chose not to. He had full blown conversations when he did talk, he really had no problem that way that I remember. The reason we hear mostly what he thinks instead of what he says is because this is how we are living the book, the story with him, its told 1st person and so you get all their thoughts, much more than actual conversations. He knows he is starting to lose chunks of time, but even he knows, it could be just age and nothing to do there so who wouldn't. I found Jacob quite able to express anything he wanted to, when he wanted to. hmm, interesting.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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cindersue
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

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:
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cindersue
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

Noberly ... Example: My grandmother was very good as a business woman and ahead of her time in many ways. But, she was also somewhat mean. As she slipped into ALZ, another side came out.

ALZ is funny at times, isn't it. My mother-in-law was very mean, contradictory and not pleasant to be around after a few days visit. We were devastated when the doctor told us she had ALZ, thinking about how more horrible she will become. At this time, she is happy as a lark, freindlier and really nice. Her new doctors prescirbed her an anti depressant when she moved up here with us, and she actually is happy. I think they should have given her an anti-depressant 50 years ago! The good thing, she doesn't remember ever being mean. :smileywink:
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vivico1
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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:


LOL, I don't know what goes on with you at night with your visitors, since you tend to wake up seeing them, they could come out of dreams that were wakened. I woke up one time and thought there were 4 spiders coming straight down from the ceiling at me and screamed lol and then they were gone, but not before I checked the whole darn room lol. I dont know, hey I used to be with someone who woke up one night and sat up and said Vivian, wheres (ok wont use the actual name here so will say) Eve?? Now, hmm, I don't know an Eve, as far as I know, they didn't know an Eve (better not have lol) and I just raised an eyebrow and said, I dont know where Eve is,who is Eve?? He just shook his head looking puzzled and laid back down snoring LOL. The next morning, I said who is Eve?? He said, who? He had no memory of it and really said he truly did not know an Eve and I believe him and it became a humorous joke with him. I even bought him a stuffed buffalo and named it Eve LOL. IF this whole story is the imagination of a man in the last stages of Alzheimers, then we have been duped out of a good story to one of lifeless nonsense with no reality even in the end. If this is not real, if he never was in the circus, if none of this happened to him then maybe your trip to the Arbuckles in Oklahoma and all that happened was all in your head too, ooo, and just a part of whatever is causing your night guest too. :smileytongue: He WAS in the circus! lol :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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IBIS
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler

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.

IBIS
IBIS

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fordmg
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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 agree, Jacob doesn't have Alzhiemer's, he has a physical problem in that he can't walk well. He has a walker and wants to keep it by him, one of the nurses doesn't understand this and puts the walker away. I relate to this very much. My mother has been in Assisted Living and just recently was moved to a "more care" unit. She is fighting it all the way, thinking she is still capable and not accepting that she needs more help. Jacob doesn't seem to ever tell anyone at the home about his former life. He expects that his family knows. I found this part of the story poignant. Very true to life and expressing the frustrations with growing old.
The young Jacob is just running through life. His part of the story takes place in a short time span, a summer I think. At least it is less than a year. He does a lot of growing up...life just "shot him out of the cannon" and he learned on the fly. This happens often also. The circus is a different back drop for growing, but during the depression many people did jobs and experienced life that they would never consider if jobs were available.

MG
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fordmg
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Re: Old and Young Jacobs -- possibly spoiler



cindersue wrote:


noberly wrote:
Alzheimer's is not just short term or long term memory loss. It can also fade in and out. They can be very lucid and in the moment one day and very out of it the next. That is what I see with old Jacob. But, it depends on the person as to how they react.

I watched my grandmother go through it for about 6 years. And, it was interesting when I would spend time at the nursing home's Alzheimer's unit. It was interesting to watch the different people and how they would respond and react. Some you could not even tell they had it and yet you knew, otherwise, they could not be in that unit. Others it was very obvious.




I agree, memory loss fades in and out. I'm going thru this with my mother-in-law. She told me last Sunday she just got her car filled up the other day, couldn't believe the gas prices. She hasn't driven in two years. And she said she had made a big pot of chili in her kitchen. She doesn't even have a burner, just a microwave. The doctor told me that ALZ patients tend to hallucinate. There are other situations where she believed she was talking to someone or was somewhere, and wasn't. So this brings up an important question. Was Jacob hallucinating or did he really join the circus? hmmmmmmmm interesting :smileywink:

POSSIBLY SPOILER: Did the story end the way it did, or did he drift off to his death, thinking he did go to the circus?




I have to believe the story really ended as written. We don't see Jacob drifting into unconscience in any other part of the book. The ending is what clinched the book for me.
His ability to tell the stories of that one summer.
MG
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