Happy Days Question #1 - Antoine

by Laurent Graff

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Happy Days Question #1 - Antoine

Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:42 am

Noodlemantras…..I’m happy to announce that today we begin our discussion of Happy Days. :snoopydances:

It will be a shorter discussion than usual, though. We expect to finish up by the 21st of December. So without further ado I bring you our first question:

How would you classify Antoine? What makes him so jaded?
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Dec 04, 2006 7:58 am

Quite depressing, an eternal pessimist, bitter. Also selfish arogant. But he is also a kind gentle person who does not recognise this in himself.
I'm not sure I know why he is so jaded though. I'm not sure we really find this out :perplexed:

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Unread postby Charlie » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:43 am

It never becomes clear to me throughout the book what has prompted Antoine to initiate this lifelong 'experiment' he is conducting and what has resigned him to the inevitable at such a very young age.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:39 am

I wondered the same thing, GG and Charlie. We never really find out what his life was like before this and what might have led him to make this life altering decision.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 04, 2006 12:59 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:I wondered the same thing, GG and Charlie. We never really find out what his life was like before this and what might have led him to make this life altering decision.


This is true. That's why I want to know why.

Gilbert's Girl wrote:But he is also a kind gentle person who does not recognise this in himself.


I agree he is to a degree. On the other hand I see him as a sociopath--but not to the extent of it leading to criminal behavior, just odd behavior. He seems to lack a sense of connection to the real world. He tends to be an observer, not someone who feels or participates in life.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:18 pm

To me, Antoine has chosen safety instead of subjecting himself to all the risks involved
in participating in life. He'd rather watch things from a safe distance. Fear of failure looks like the biggest
motivation to me. Plus, there are several times in the book when he mentions his 'self-mortification', so it would seem he's aware of the trade-off he's made, and the accompanying punishment he must endure.
I know a guy who entered an ashram back in the 60's for the very same reason, though he put in loftier terms,
of course. (!) Antoine reminds me of that guy...removed, safe, self-sacrificing...but mostly scared.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
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Unread postby Endora » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:27 pm

I don't think it matters that we don't know about his past. I suspect that the author is trying to say that your past doesn't matter, it's what you do now that's important, so there's no need to recount his story. But I do agree with the ideas about him running away from any risk. Maybe it's a once bitten twice shy issue, hurt once and then avoid the situation.
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

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Unread postby gemini » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:34 pm

Liz and Parlez you hit on my first impression of Antionne. He is someone who wants to stand back and observe life without getting involved or living it. I thought it really strange until giving it more thought, I realized that is what we all do when watching movies or television. We do it for short periods of time for entertainment but he has dedicated his life to it. His life does seem more of a disturbed fascination though, because he is obsessed with age and dying.
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Unread postby fansmom » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:51 pm

Liz wrote:I agree he is to a degree. On the other hand I see him as a sociopath--but not to the extent of it leading to criminal behavior, just odd behavior. He seems to lack a sense of connection to the real world. He tends to be an observer, not someone who feels or participates in life.
I heard a piece on the radio over the weekend about a scientist who is doing research on empathy and the human brain. By doing brain scans, she discovered that when we see someone we love being hurt, our brains react as though we were being hurt, although obviously to a lesser degree. (Ok, I just googled "empathy" and "brain scan" and I see that the research was done in 2004. Don't know why I just heard about it .. :-/ ) Anyway, that empathetic part of Antoine's brain seems to be less well developed than average.

I wouldn't call him a sociopath because the criminal behavior is a usually defining characteristic for that, but he's certainly on the "different" end of the continuum.

Hey, let's all get into the nature/nurture debate that has come up in so many ONBC discussions, ok? :blush:

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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:52 pm

Right on, Gemini. Most people get to old age with a lifetime of
experiences and activities that they spend time reflecting about
in their later years, but Antoine seems to want to skip all that
and just dwell in the present...like it's OVER already. It's as though he knows that
no matter how we've lived or what we've done, there's still the same ending for everyone.
He 'gets' that in a way that's really quite unique for one so young. His fascination with the end of life could be seen as quite mature, quite spiritual, or quite pathological...maybe some blend of all three?
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby gemini » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:44 pm

Ok Parlez, you've got me thinking again. Antionne seems to feel there is something missing in life itself. As some of you said, it may be missing in him. Anyhow, I have been pondering this as I am bouncing back and forth to threads and saw one about Johnny's obsession with cannibalism which got me to thinking about some of his other strange interests.
I have heard it mentioned here and there that Johnny has an old soul, a lot of his friends are in his parents generation and he has interest ( the beat generation) that are of times of an age before he was born. Sometimes I think it is part of what older ladies see in him. My point is, I am really beginning to see what Johnny see's in Antoinne. Not that Johnny escapes from life, just the opposite, that he is into making every second count. Johnny does always seem to be looking for something deeper in life, and that is what Antionne feels is missing. Not sure I am explaining this good enough but does anyone see where I am going?
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Last edited by gemini on Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:45 pm

fansmom wrote:
Liz wrote:I agree he is to a degree. On the other hand I see him as a sociopath--but not to the extent of it leading to criminal behavior, just odd behavior. He seems to lack a sense of connection to the real world. He tends to be an observer, not someone who feels or participates in life.
I heard a piece on the radio over the weekend about a scientist who is doing research on empathy and the human brain. By doing brain scans, she discovered that when we see someone we love being hurt, our brains react as though we were being hurt, although obviously to a lesser degree. (Ok, I just googled "empathy" and "brain scan" and I see that the research was done in 2004. Don't know why I just heard about it .. :-/ ) Anyway, that empathetic part of Antoine's brain seems to be less well developed than average.

I wouldn't call him a sociopath because the criminal behavior is a usually defining characteristic for that, but he's certainly on the "different" end of the continuum.

Hey, let's all get into the nature/nurture debate that has come up in so many ONBC discussions, ok? :blush:


He does seem to lack empathy. It's like he's trying to figure out how to have it--like an alien from another planet who is studying our habits.

And I'll bite, fansmom. I think that it could be either nature or nurture. He was either born with that tendency or something in his past has caused him to lack feeling or lack the desire to live life. As Parlez, said he wants to skip right to the end.
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Dec 04, 2006 3:49 pm

gemini wrote:Ok Parlez, you've got me thinking again. Antionne seems to feel there is something missing in life itself. As some of you said, it may be missing in him. Anyhow, I have been pondering this as I am bouncing back and forth to threads and saw one about Johnny's obsession with cannibalism which got me to thinking about some of his other strange interests.
I have heard it mentioned here and there that Johnny has an old soul, a lot of his friends are in his parents generation and he has interest ( the beat generation) that are of times of an age before he was born. Sometimes I think it is part of what older ladies see in him. My point is, I am really beginning to see what Johnny see's in Antoinne. Not that he escapes from life, just the opposite, that he is into making every second count. Johnny does always seem to be looking for something deeper in life, and that is what Antionne feels is missing. Not sure I am explaining this good enough but does anyone see where I am going?
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I do think that Antoine is looking for something deeper. I guess he's not going about it in the way I would. This discussion is really getting interesting now, and unfortunately, I have to head out now to drive on a school field trip. Keep up the good work, and I'll see you this evening. :wave:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Bix » Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:01 pm

Antoine is quite perplexing, but I don't think we can attribute his attitude and actions to anything deeply felt or rooted in his past. He says things like "At eighteen, I felt I had experienced everything that constitutes, roughly speaking, the average full life. . .and I felt I'd gained enough insight to see that life, in its general outlines, no longer promised me any 'surprising' surprises worth waiting for." That seems to me just the sheer audacity of youth talking. Our lives have hardly begun to reveal the surprises in store for us at that age.

And in explaining why he moved into the retirement home at 35, he says he wanted to be ". . .far from the tedious vicissitudes of existence. I wanted to let myself drift gently on the surface of life. . ." I just can't imagine anyone being able to divorce themselves from real life, I guess.

I want to classify him as irresponsible, frightened, arrogant - all the things so many of you have mentioned - but I mainly just come up with "weirdo". (Although I do have to confess that I found myself envying him his "drifting on the surface of life". :blush:)
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Unread postby gemini » Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:10 pm

Bix wrote:Antoine is quite perplexing, but I don't think we can attribute his attitude and actions to anything deeply felt or rooted in his past. He says things like "At eighteen, I felt I had experienced everything that constitutes, roughly speaking, the average full life. . .and I felt I'd gained enough insight to see that life, in its general outlines, no longer promised me any 'surprising' surprises worth waiting for." That seems to me just the sheer audacity of youth talking. Our lives have hardly begun to reveal the surprises in store for us at that age.

And in explaining why he moved into the retirement home at 35, he says he wanted to be ". . .far from the tedious vicissitudes of existence. I wanted to let myself drift gently on the surface of life. . ." I just can't imagine anyone being able to divorce themselves from real life, I guess.

I want to classify him as irresponsible, frightened, arrogant - all the things so many of you have mentioned - but I mainly just come up with "weirdo". (Although I do have to confess that I found myself envying him his "drifting on the surface of life". :blush:)


I agree Bix. I don't think Antionne is looking for anything deeper in his life. I think he has decided that its missing and there is nothing.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.


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