WEGG Question #19 ~ Lance Dodge

by Peter Hedges

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gemini
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Unread postby gemini » Fri Apr 20, 2007 6:36 pm

Like Gilbert, I didn't like Lance Dodge. He came across very shallow and self absorbed. I think Peter Hedges used Lance as the opposite of Gilbert, he left, Gilbert stayed, he's sucessful, Gilbert is broke, the town is proud of him, and they shun the Grapes.

Gilbert even has to compete with Lance's photo in Mr Lamsons grocery and with Momma watching him on television. The two people whom he must have thought would not consider him less than Lance.
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Fri Apr 20, 2007 7:23 pm

Lance is used as a foil to Gilbert. The contrast of the two characters show us both Gilbert's strengths and weaknesses.
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Unread postby suec » Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:54 am

Lance is the antithesis of Gilbert. It is telling that Janice tells him he could leave and no one would even notice. He’s like the cuckoo in the nest in some ways, supplanting the position that should be Gilbert’s. I think that is symbolised by the scene where he eats Gilbert’s food, and also the comment by Momma that Lance’s mother would be so proud of him. It is Gilbert who should be in that position, being admired and respected. I also think it's interesting with him being on tv, as that is one of the few things that engages Momma's attention. There is that moment when Gilbert plays with the remote and comes to the conclusion that Momma is more in tune with the tv than with him. He is a mirror to Gilbert, especially that moment when there is a close-up of Lance on the tv screen. His totally constructed image is so different to Gilbert’s. The mirror is showing an alternative parallel universe in some ways, what Gilbert’s life could have been like, had it not been blighted by tragedy. I don’t mean the fame, but the happiness, and the chance to choose his own path in life, before their paths diverged. There are those links between the two, connections. I think it is significant that in Tucker’s memory, it is Lance who peed himself, that he is confusing Gilbert and Lance in his mind - although it seems there is some cause , if Mrs Brainer's rule was "cause of Lance Dodge". I also wonder if the two mightn’t have been much closer at one point, before the death. They must have been, given the role that Lance played in Gilbert not being able to go home. But Lance noticed that Gilbert’s dad seemed happy that day and commented to Gilbert about it. That suggests more than a casual classmate acquaintance. And he tells the girl, “We used to talk a lot. About everything”.

Liz, I like your point about the American Dream. Lance is really living the Dream, having achieved what he wants: in his case, a successful career, fame and adulation. He is evidence that you can really be just what you want to be in life. I think it is made explicit when he is wearing the red white and blue tie. Perhaps the Grapes are the flip side, living in a house bulit by the father with his own hands, in the home that has become a morgue for hopes and dreams.

I hope really that Mr Lamson admires Lance, not for his fame, but for his success: the local boy made good. He has such a fatherly way about him and is so paternal with the Grape boys, that I hope that is what it is, but I haven't found the passage to check.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Apr 21, 2007 10:30 am

Sorry, to miss all your great answers! I have out of town company this weekend so I'm posting and running this morning. :motorcycle:

One thing I thought of is how most people get excited by seeing someone they know on tv. I've never quite figured that out...does it make us slightly famous too because we know the person, is it living vicariously through that person? Does having a little piece of celebrity make us more important?
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Apr 21, 2007 11:13 am

suec wrote: The mirror is showing an alternative parallel universe in some ways, what Gilbert’s life could have been like, had it not been blighted by tragedy. I don’t mean the fame, but the happiness, and the chance to choose his own path in life, before their paths diverged. There are those links between the two, connections. I think it is significant that in Tucker’s memory, it is Lance who peed himself, that he is confusing Gilbert and Lance in his mind - although it seems there is some cause , if Mrs Brainer's rule was "cause of Lance Dodge". I also wonder if the two mightn’t have been much closer at one point, before the death. They must have been, given the role that Lance played in Gilbert not being able to go home. But Lance noticed that Gilbert’s dad seemed happy that day and commented to Gilbert about it. That suggests more than a casual classmate acquaintance. And he tells the girl, “We used to talk a lot. About everything”.

Liz, I like your point about the American Dream. Lance is really living the Dream, having achieved what he wants: in his case, a successful career, fame and adulation. He is evidence that you can really be just what you want to be in life. I think it is made explicit when he is wearing the red white and blue tie. Perhaps the Grapes are the flip side, living in a house bulit by the father with his own hands, in the home that has become a morgue for hopes and dreams.


You've made a really good point about the alternative parallel universe they are in and that it could have been the other way around. You've expressed something I sensed but couldn't quite get my mind around enough to verbalize it.

DITHOT, I think the reason we get so excited when we see someone we know on TV is that we are vicariously experiencing those 15 minutes of fame.
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Unread postby suec » Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:19 pm

I have to say the fame / celebrity thing is something I'm fairly immune to, so on an emotional level I don't really get it. We had a celebrity in our workplace the other week, and I was surprised to see the way people reacted to him. However, Maslow identifies respect of others and respect by others as part of the self-esteem layer of human needs. That I can relate to. I know that I need a hero and a role model, someone to admire and respect. Being a fan of Johnny goes a long way towards meeting that need. And in fact, it is one of the reasons that I became a fan in the first place; at the time, I really was in dire need of someone to respect and inspire me. But in his case, I see very specific things in him to admire. I am sure there is a lot of stuff out there on the cult of celebrity and how it has to some extent supplanted the way we admire people for more valid reasons. Is it a bit like the junk food equivalent of more nutritional and healthier fare?
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

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Unread postby gemini » Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:05 pm

suec wrote: I am sure there is a lot of stuff out there on the cult of celebrity and how it has to some extent supplanted the way we admire people for more valid reasons. Is it a bit like the junk food equivalent of more nutritional and healthier fare?


What a great analogy suec.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Unread postby Liz » Sun Apr 22, 2007 1:50 pm

gemini wrote:
suec wrote: I am sure there is a lot of stuff out there on the cult of celebrity and how it has to some extent supplanted the way we admire people for more valid reasons. Is it a bit like the junk food equivalent of more nutritional and healthier fare?


What a great analogy suec.


Interesting analogy indeed. I had not thought of the idea of needing a hero or role model. But I guess I do. :interesting:
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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