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 Post subject: Happy Days Question #3 ~ The Residents of Happy Days
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:07 am 
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pg. 29 “I’m where I ought to be, here, among those who no longer expect or wait for anything, abandoning themselves to a caricature of a life. Real life has become too cruelly human.”

What do you make of Antoine’s assumption that the residents of Happy Days “no longer expect or wait for anything”? Does he change his mind over the course of the story?



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:34 pm 
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Me thinks there's something to be said for Antoine's thought
here. There's something to be said for not having expectations
or waiting for something to happen. Those things do lead to
disappointment, or to suffering, as the Buddhists would put it.
Life without an agenda would be...different...maybe better.
Often Elders, once they're moved into facilities, appear to have
'given up' and abandoned their future for passivity.
There's certainly a sense of hopelessness inside those places,
despite the cheery facades. But there's also a sort of Zen
quality too, if you look for it. It often seems to me that the residents are
in the eye of the hurricane ~ they
just sit there while the staff, the families, and everyone else buzz
around in a flurry of activity, appearing rather frantic in their
efforts to care, you know? All the while, the elders just sit.
I often wonder what it would happen if the workers and the
families would sit down too? For me, that was the most amazing
part of the story ~ that a young, able-bodied guy would come
into a place like Happy Days and just be with the elders there.
Not caring, not wanting to be of service, with no agenda or ego-driven cause...just there.
Is that a caricature of life? Maybe. It's definitely a caricature of
life based on how the outside world operates. But there's another level, where non-action and the non-engagement are okay, even necessary, so that other things can arise. I'm not sure if Anotine 'gets' that on a conscious level, at least not at first...I think on page 29 he's still preoccupied with Real Life
versus Something Else.

ARRGGHH! I'm tired!! I stayed up watching DMC last night, so this post may make NO sense whatsoever! I'll be eager to read
what others think of today's quote.



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:04 pm 
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I'm not so sure that the other residents of Happy Days "no longer expect or wait for anything" I think rather that the world no longer cares for them and would rather they just disappear quitely. Having spent some time with elderly people/patients I've noticed that they often want to be a part of things, but they are limited by their bodies, their minds or the patience of more able bodied people. I think in general that while we live we want to a part of the goings on in the world, no matter how old we get. I think what becomes important as we age is the quality of our interactions, you don't want to waste time on trite concerns, I think our relationships with the people who matter become very very important, and you want to know that they will be okay when you're gone. I've found that when people no longer care about life, then death is close at hand.

Live in Depp
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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Questin #3 ~ The Residents of Happy Days
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:19 pm 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
pg. 29 “I’m where I ought to be, here, among those who no longer expect or wait for anything, abandoning themselves to a caricature of a life. Real life has become too cruelly human.”

What do you make of Antoine’s assumption that the residents of Happy Days “no longer expect or wait for anything”? Does he change his mind over the course of the story?




I think he is being harsh in thinking just because one might be elderly that they dont expect anything and just wait to die so to speak. Even though they may not be out actively. they have so much to give another with their knowledge & experience. I think once a person reaches a certain age one accepts the world for what it is & looks at it in a different perspective that weeds out the nonsense & exposes whats true & real. What matters. You can choose to focus on the bad or you can find what is good & go forth with your life. Do your best to give back & change what you can. And Yes I do think he does change his mind by the end of the story.



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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Questin #3 ~ The Residents of Happy Days
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 1:48 pm 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
pg. 29 “I’m where I ought to be, here, among those who no longer expect or wait for anything, abandoning themselves to a caricature of a life. Real life has become too cruelly human.”

What do you make of Antoine’s assumption that the residents of Happy Days "no longer expect or wait for anything”? Does he change his mind over the course of the story?



Good Morning Mates! :capnjack: Time for my cup of Jack :morning:

OK. I'm changing my tactics, and NOT reading other's responses first. I hope this will enhance my useage of greymatter.

First off, "no longer expect or wait for anything"
(1) He is also assuming that HE does not expect or wait for anything. I think he's expecting ALOT. Especially if he is expecting to find more meaning in his life.
(2) The residents, on the other hand, may, perhaps, not expect much, and go about their daily lives, not waiting for anything, simply becasue they are old and unable to scream from the rooftops any longer. Actually the residents are quite active, and he goes into great detail about them. They just don't deal with the 'frills' any longer.
(3) On the other hand, "no longer expecting or waiting for anything" does have a Buddhist type of nirvanic quality to it. Like meditating. Is he meditating through life, at his life's monistary ?
(4) Does he change his mind? ... Hmmm...perhaps. He does become more involved. Not sure if his mind has changed or not, because he still seems happy living at Happy Days. If his mind changed, I would think that he would be more able to accept the outside world, and move back into it.


The rest is a little off topic:
But then he goes on to say...abandoning themselves to a charachature of life. Well now, this shows his youth. He doesn't see that they actually did not abandon themselves, but have lived full active lives, and are still living active lives. The residents of Happy days remind me of a cake, without all the frills. HE's the one who's abandoning his potential in the beginning of the novel. Maybe not by the end of it. :eyebrow: (Suddenly this seems to be an extremely subtle theme in the book. )

When he says, ... Real life has become too cruelly human. I agree with the statement, however, This is his own self analyzation. He thinks real life is cruel, so he's in Happy Days to find peace and calmness, and the 'controlled' enviornment. But what he really finds is a mini scale scientific type life system. Like looking at bacteria under a microscope. As Jack might say, 'just the goods darlin'.



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 3:04 pm 
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Thanks, Depputante! I like your thoughts on Antoine finding a
sort of microcosm of activity beneath the calm surface of Happy Days.
There IS a livilness there that he doesn't see at first, making the usual stereotypes
about old people and taking his own cynical view to the scene. There's a strong thread of pain
running through the story ~ his as well as the residents. It seems to me they're all struggling to find some meaning in their lives NOW. The 'frills' are gone, so it's down to bare bones and
essentials...down to the cake!



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:02 pm 
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I have been watching Jack all morning and it makes it hard to get my head back into Happy Days.

What do you make of Antoine’s assumption that the residents of Happy Days “no longer expect or wait for anything”? Does he change his mind over the course of the story?

What Antoine's view of elderly life and what their view is may not be the same.

The residents of Happy Days make a point of dressing for dinner and going on outings because these are ways of living each day as opposed to giving up even if they have to contend with more obstacles to do it. What younger people consider living, love marriage, family, for the elderly mostly has been accomplished and letting their children take over these aspects frees them for just entertaining themselves without the stress and hardships of their youth. Some of them feel a lifetime of working has earned them the freedom to relax and enjoy the smaller things in life.

They may not be expecting anything big in their life but even if it can be said they are waiting for death (I hate to even say that) they are trying to live life as normal as they did in earlier years. Some even have some of the spark left like like Clarisse still putting on her makeup and flirting obviously still considers sex and romance the highlight of her life. Babel tries to keep fit before depression overtakes him and he slips back into alcoholism. These could describe the life of any age group.

I am trying to think of something to decide if Antionne changes his mind, and since he never changed his life's plan, I don't think he changed his mind, even though I think he was wrong.



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:20 pm 
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I agree that most of the residents seem to be trying to carry on with their own interests in life as well as they can under the circumstances. I think Antoine starts out with projecting his own twisted view of life onto them. By the end he seems to have true feelings for Mireille (a first for him?) and says of her tears, "Yet they contain the special salt that adds a bit of human flavor and thereby gives savor to life. Whatever I think of it, without that humanity--imperfect, and flimsy and ridiculed though it may be--we definitely wouldn't be worth anyone's while."
So I think that by the end of the story his observations have shown him that these people still have humanity and are living, but I'm not sure that he is able to internalize that humanity for himself.
Do believe my mom loved being in a nursing home! After a busy life with teaching and having five kids, she luxuriated in reading books, watching game shows, visiting around and being waited on. :cloud9:



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:36 pm 
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Hi all. I am just catching up now on this thread. I was out this morning taking my dad to the doctor. (I have to say that his being in his current independent living situation over the last year and a half has made this book quite interesting and has helped in my understanding of it, I believe—even if I may disagree with Antoine’s approach to his life.)

Very thoughtful answers so far, Noodlemantras!

I tend to agree with Gemini, especially from my experience and observations of my dad and his friends. I think that they still have expectations and reasons to get up in the morning. I think that this is evident in the individual characters, as described so eloquently by Gemini. And I also think that they are waiting for death. The elderly think about it a lot. And I have a feeling that many of them have reconciled with it.

I’m thinking that Antoine did change his mind about this, but can’t really explain why in detail because that would get into another question. I will just say that his telling of the story and his descriptions of the residents at Happy Days as he progresses through the book indicate that maybe his opinion is evolving even though he may not state it as such.

V, nice to see you here. :wave:



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:10 pm 
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Reading everyone's post today, I can't help but think that several of us base our views of the book on personal life experiences because we are of an age where we have elderly parents or we work in an environment among the elderly. I don't think my opinions would have been the same at a younger age and not seen how my parents have coped with age. Aging is a learning process no matter what age you are.
This may also be the case with Antionne. He has to learn about aging to even develop some compassion.
My question for myself now is how much did he learn? I am on the fence about it and since Liz is alluding to another question coming I wont even try to figure out my answer yet.



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:10 pm 
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I was very annoyed with that passage, which is why I pulled it for a question. I suppose that is the arrogance or naivete of youth to think of elderly people in that way. Their wants and expectations have changed with age but I don't believe they have given up living or are living a caricature. I agree with you Betty Sue and gemini that he is projecting his own feelings onto the residents. He feels there is nothing left for them but to wait for death and give up on life.

It's wonderful that we have some participants that have personal experiece either through family members or through their profession that are able to comment on the realities of Happy Days type facilities. It is interesting too how people of different ages relate to the story and to the characters. I think Antoine is wrong but I know as I get older that I sure hope he is!


Last edited by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas on Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:54 pm 
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Betty Sue wrote:
Do believe my mom loved being in a nursing home! After a busy life with teaching and having five kids, she luxuriated in reading books, watching game shows, visiting around and being waited on. :cloud9:
My grandmother didn't want to be in a nursing home. "How boring, being around nothing but old people." Then one was built in the town where she had raised her kids and lived for decades, and she found that those weren't strange old folks, they were Millie from next door and Kathryn from around the corner, etc. Once my parents went to visit her and got the feeling she was impatient for them to leave so she could go play bingo.


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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Question #3 ~ The Residents of Happy Days
PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 12:34 am 
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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
pg. 29 “I’m where I ought to be, here, among those who no longer expect or wait for anything, abandoning themselves to a caricature of a life. Real life has become too cruelly human.”

What do you make of Antoine’s assumption that the residents of Happy Days “no longer expect or wait for anything”? Does he change his mind over the course of the story?


My take on Antoine's statement here is that he speaks from his own perspective. . . that he is the one who no longer waits for or expects anything. He had his chance at life and now he chooses to be at the home. But othersseemingly care about whats left of them - enjoy decorating the tree, going on the field trip, dreessing up, etc. Antoine wants everything plain- lifeless.

Does he change by the end? Its' a mystery. He's still sitting on the same bench, right?

Lady Jill


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 6:04 pm 
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I think it's a lot to do with what I said abotu Antoine in the last discussion - his tendency to be very self-absorbed. He doesn't feel like there is anything left to expect out of life, adn he projects that feeling onto the elderly people around him.

I think he's actually quite wrong. The elderly residents expect and wait for a lot of things - they get excited about outings and dinner parties and variety shows, they look forward to visits from relatives, there are a million little things every day and week to look forward to, and Antoine is wrong to think that none of those things are of value. Even the daily routine of watching The Young and the Restless - he tells himself that he only watches it to help the others keep up, but I think in reality he has become absorbed in it too - it's a distraction, a way to use their minds and have something to talk about with each other - ie, something valuable and worth participating in every day.

I agree with what a lot of you have said about the arrogance of youth - and I'm only 25. I just don't thingk Antoine is openminded enough to see the value in all the little things around him. He spends too much time looking inwards and not enough time focussing outwards.


By the way everyone, I'm sorry for always being a day or two late to the discussion - I'm almost a day ahead of most of you so buy the time you're into discussions I'm getting ready for bed... I hope it's okay to tack my thoughts onto the end anyway.



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 6:55 pm 
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Red Shoes wrote:
By the way everyone, I'm sorry for always being a day or two late to the discussion - I'm almost a day ahead of most of you so buy the time you're into discussions I'm getting ready for bed... I hope it's okay to tack my thoughts onto the end anyway.
One of the any advantages of the ONBC, Red Shoes, is that each of us can respond--or not--whenever we wish. No rules, just guidelines! :capnjack:


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