WEGG Question #26 - Realism

by Peter Hedges

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WEGG Question #26 - Realism

Unread postby Liz » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:02 am

Do you find the characters in WEGG to be real? Do you think the story is realistic?
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:55 am

Other than Becky's too young to be so worldly wise character ,I'd say so, but I don't have much experience with small town American life. :lol:

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Unread postby Iceflower » Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:55 am

I think the story is relastic in some ways and some ways not. Families like the Grapes, can be found around the world. But some of the people they meet, I think, isn't to realistic. Like Becky, she seems to be to smart, and to knowledge for that age. That makes her a little unrealistic.

But I would say the story, or most of the story and most of the characters are realistic.

Looking forward to read what you others have to say. Might be that I come up with somethign else which makes it unrealistic :perplexed:
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:02 am

I found the dynamics within the dysfunctional Grape family to be quite realistic so all of those characters rang true to me. It helped to be inside Gilbert's head all the time and to understand his perspective. Gilbert's friends seemed pretty typical for their age. The Carvers......hmmmnn. Can't say that I know any Mrs. Betty Carvers or Melanies, but I guess they're around. Mr. Carver didn't seem too realistic to me. He acted so weirdly with his kids, had that strange thing going with Melanie, didn't seem clued in to his wife, and died a mysterious death. :eyebrow:
Mrs. Brainer? Yes, I've taught for many years, and that's a realistic portrayal of some teachers.
I loved Mr. Lamson and his wife and like to believe that there are truly happy, see-the-bright-side people like them around.
Becky seemed rather mysterious, not too realistic. I think Peter Hedges likes to put that element in his writings. And Lance seemed pretty odd to me.
To me the story comes off as realistic with some very dramatic elements thrown in. Burning down the house, for instance, was a terrific ending but, realistically, where were they to live? And what about laws regarding treatment of a corpse?
Realistic or not, a great story! :cool:
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:34 am

Do you find the characters in WEGG to be real? Do you think the story is realistic?
Yes, for the most part I think the characters could have been real people. The Grape family and their interactions were realistic, especially Gilbert's interactions with Ellen. Momma was a bit one dimensional. The Carver's too, they were a dysfunctional family with an abusive father, and I have seen towns where you need a scorecard to keep up with who is cheating with whom (it astounds me, but it's out there). Mrs. Brainer, from the response to her question and my own experience, I'd say was also realistic. I think the Lamson's also exist, good, hard working decent people who are content.
Lance, I think he's pretty well drawn as well, a celebrity who's narcissistic and a bit shallow. When we get to Bobby and Tucker, they're are probably a fair number of guys out there like them, both immature, and Tucker good hearted but dependent on his family to support him at 24. Then we come to Becky, I must agree too wise and mysterious for her age - she is a year younger than Ellen, she does not seem real.

The story on the whole was realisitic, just some of the parts about Becky and Gilbert and all the other guys in town did not ring true. Also, I have to agree with Betty Sue, about the burning of the house and treatment of a corpse, but it is a good dramatic effect.
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Unread postby Endora » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:37 am

Betty Sue, I felt the same about the end. The insurance company would have cried arson, for a start. But yes, symbolically good I suppose and certainly dramatic.

Becky is a problem, too. Not so much because she is worldly wise, but to me because she's full of dreadful cod-philosphy that Gilbert just laps up. She made me annoyed with Gilbert, but perhaps that's her purpose.

I think the small town life is realistic. I liked the way it gave a claustrophobic feel to the book. And I imagine that a mid-western small town is even more claustrophic than a similar town here because of the greater isolation.
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Unread postby Parlez » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:00 pm

Yes, I thought the characters were realistic ~ although if there was ever a family in need of an intervention, it was the Grapes! I'm not sure they'd be able to get away with their so-called 'lifestyle' these days, particularly with regard to Arnie. I'd like to think that someone from, say, the county social services office would be intervening, or at least monitoring, the family. But that's another story. :lol:
There were plenty of Mrs. Betty Carvers in my hometown in Iowa, and plenty of Mr. Carvers too, so those two seemed real enough to me, sorry to say. I've already commented on the Mrs. Brainers in the school system there. Our town also had a local celebrity ~ and guy who made it all the way to the US Senate. He was the darling of the town, no doubt about it. But he didn't have the same aversion to children as Lance had (naturally, being a politician!) but I would imagine he spawned the same kind of reaction (good and bad) amongst his peers.
The character who seems the most realistic to me, and the most representative of the guys I knew growing up in Iowa, was Tucker. Peter Hedges got him just right. And the Lamsons too. Salt of the earth people.
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Unread postby SamIam » Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:55 pm

I thought the characters were realistic and it shows in the attitudes they had. It's plausible that there are families like them but I don't think Becky was realistic. I don't think there are any fifthteen year olds that smart and worldly and if there are they're not living in Iowa. The Carvers seemed realistic but I don't think they were. I mean could a father really be that weird to his kids? I don't know but I'm sure there are married women who cheat on their husbands. The idea is plausible. All in all, I feel that they were very real and it made it easier to identify with them. :cool:
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Apr 27, 2007 1:54 pm

I agree with most of you that Gilbert’s family dynamics were realistic. There is a certain person I felt was not, though……Becky. Although I liked her character, I thought she was too young to be so wise and so interested in Gilbert. Actually, I can see her interest in Gilbert, but not his in her. And what I found even more unrealistic was the general acceptance towards their relationship, including her grandmother’s. I can’t see a grandmother encouraging a relationship with an older man. And also Bobby was too old for Ellen. And that seemed to be acceptable too. On the other hand, I did find the Carvers to be very real. Mrs. Brainer (I’ve known a few in my time) was definitely real as was Lance. The Lamsons seemed real, but I can’t say that I know any.

I agree with Betty Sue, Linda Lee and Endora that although the burning of the house was quite unrealistic and impractical, it made for a dramatic ending. And I agree with Endora that the small town in middle America atmosphere was very real—at least how I see it or how it has been consistently portrayed.
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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 Charlene » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:14 pm

You ladies have nailed it right on the head...Becky was just too out there in the book. Even if you swallowed what was written, I kept asking myself why Gilbert was drawn to her (ok, I know the basic's of what he was drawn to her and the fact that she was "otherworldly")...because I really grew to dislike her after than watermelon episode and it bothered me that he let her treat him like dirt.

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:31 pm

Charlene, I thought she was a bit arrogant and annoying at times. But I liked her character because she was intriguing.
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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 KYwoman » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:38 pm

I'm in agreement with you gals. The story and characters seemed to ring true to me, except Becky. However, I had an issue with the ages of the Grape children. I felt they were too 'old' (except Arnie) to be behaving like they were. Then again, I thought Becky was too young for her to be talking/acting like she was doing. Anyone else feel that way?
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Unread postby nebraska » Fri Apr 27, 2007 3:55 pm

I am in accord with most of you, for the most part I think the characters were realistic. Not so sure about Becky, but then, I think it is possible that there are girls like her out there.....girls who think they know it all and make a big show of it, kind of bratty and arrogant......teenaged girls can be a handful! :banghead: I think many of us would be apalled if we knew what goes on behind closed doors! The Grapes, the Carvers, and the rest of the families in Endora could have counterparts in our very own neighborhoods!

Parlez, I was curious about your comment that Social Services should be involved in Arnie's case.....was that because of his constant run-ins with the law over the water tower? Arnie was certainly loved and well cared for by his family for the most part.

Burning the house has always bothered me on a practical level. It was the perfect ending to the story and with the death certificate signed, some of the legal hassles were taken care of. There might not have been any insurance of the house, given the family's financial situation and the condition of the building. I do think it is possible in a small rural town, folks might look the other way, understanding what the Grape kids had done and having respect for memories of the Bonnie they had known in the past. It seems to me I read that Hedges purposely tried to avoid having a specific time the story took place; if it had taken place say 40 years ago, I think it would be very possible someone could do what Gilbert did and there not be any legal fall out. There was more compassion, common sense and less red tape in those days. In my humble opinion, anyway.

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Unread postby gemini » Fri Apr 27, 2007 4:54 pm

What everyone says so far about the characters rings true. I agree with Nebraska about burning the house. It does not seem that real families would be so foolish and destroy their house and stand there with no place to live as a family afterwards. I can see that Hedges was trying to show an ending where everyone corrected all their misplaced family differences and were brought together by Momma's death but its not too realistic.
Last edited by gemini on Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Parlez » Fri Apr 27, 2007 5:06 pm

To answer your question, nebraska, about Social Services ~ I think the water tower incidents would catch their attention for sure, and also, nowadays, someone would've reported the sorry state of Arnie's person when he decided to stop bathing. Also the 'enrichment' issue ~ why was Arnie just kept at home and not in some kind of social/educational setting during the day? However, these things wouldn't have come up, say, 40 years ago, before 'special needs' got its identity and name. Back then, special kids did stay at home and their care and upbringing was left up to the family.
I agree that burning down the house would also have been a more viable option 40 years ago than it would be today. People used to burn all kinds of things back then ~ leaves, trash, old tires, etc. ~ even in town. In the story it seemed logical that if the city fathers could elect to burn down the old school as an efficient means of getting rid of it (not to mention the entertainment value), then the Grapes could likewise do the same with their house.
Becky was a stretch for me as well. I wish she'd been older. Her purpose in the overall story was good ~ as the outsider who could see Endora and Gilbert with fresh eyes. But her provocative, immature behavior was too distracting, considering she was supposedly the 'wise' one who was so instrumental in opening Gilbert's eyes. I didn't like Becky in the movie, and I liked her even less in the book!
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