Quote Of The Day: Know Yourself

Quote Of The Day #44

When her husband left eighteen months ago, Polly hadn’t expected her life to turn out like this. Miserable and angry though she was, she had looked forward to the adventure of being single again. But as her friends and the media had already warned her, there weren’t any good men over thirty in New York.

Her friend didn’t understand what it meant to be married; how much you invested, how long and desperately you tried to make things work out.

There were so … many dangers in this culture. Magazines, books, newspapers, television were heavy with overt and covert sexist propaganda… and some of the kids her son played with had already been brainwashed, she’d seen the sign.

Jim was considerate, even deferential. As it turned out, he was incapable of being rude to anyone. … He almost never raised his voice, even, so everyone thought of him as terribly good and patient and mature. It was Polly who seemed to be in the wrong, who seemed to be selfish, childish, unreasonable. It was Polly that their son Stevie blamed for their marriage trouble (and divorce).

Bea Milner was a classic example of the unliberated woman. Men, and what men wanted, always had a priority with her…. And like the virtuous heroines of Victorian literature, she would not bear a grudge, especially against a man.

Polly had read recently that after a divorce the man’s standard of living goes up by an average of seventy percent, while the woman’s is reduced by half.

(Actually I don’t believe the last one is true since I’ve seen couples who cannot afford divorce. After divorcing, the standard of living for both is going down.)

After reading “The War Between The Tates”, I bought five books from Betterworldbooks by Alison Lurie. Right now I am half way through “The Truth About Lorin Jones”, which is a wonderful book, but not as wonderful as “The War Between The Tates.” Also since the book was published in 1988, a lot of these feminine statements have been repeated so many times that they sound a little cliche. Still I feel the strength in them. If I read this book when I was a teenager, it would have benefited me immensely. However right now, knowing what I have already known, reading this is just a bit of entertainment, nothing more.

The plot is very interesting. Polly and her husband Jim lived in New York City and had a wonderful marriage for 15 years. Then one day Jim came home with the good news that he got a promotion, a grant, a career opportunity of life time in Colorado. He selfishly expected Polly to quit her job in an art museum and to move with him. Polly refused since she just had an opportunity of life time of her own in the museum to write a biography for a painter named Lorin Jones and host an art exhibition for her. Polly and Jim divorced, and most of their friends blamed Polly and supported Jim.

And when Polly started to interview friends and relatives of Lorin Jones (who’s already dead at the young age of 50), she found that everybody is telling a different story. Some say she’s a recluse; some say she’s the best friend. Some say she’s shy; some say she’s aggressively insisting on her own way. Some say her husband and the museum repressed her while her husband and the museum claim that they supported her continuously. So it’s a big jumbo of truth mixed with falsehood. Polly has to sort out everything and write the book.

It is in a certain way reminding me of the movie “Rashomon”, in which everybody gives a different version of the story.

I am still in the middle of reading the book. Right now Polly was interviewing Lorin Jone’s ex-husband. The plot is a little stalled here. Usually the middle of the book drags a little. I am trying to skip but afraid that skipping will cause me to lose my grasp of the contents and important clues.

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