Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

Ned begins his adventure slightly buzzed on a warm summer day. He decides that he will make a trek across his neighborhood by swimming through each pool. This journey makes him feel as though he were an explorer discovering a new place and slowly but surely we realize he is discovering something but it isn't about his location. Ned begins to see something a miss when he comes to the Lindley's property. Despite each person he encounters mentioning something to him that doesn't feel quite right he doesn't seem to take notice until the Lindley's. Noticing the over grown lawn and that the horses were no longer there makes him wonder what has happened, where have they gone. Then arriving to the Welcher's he notices their For Sale sign and wonders when this all happened and how he hadn't noticed. He mentions that he doesn't pay attention to bad things in his life and this just becomes more and more apparent the farther his journey takes him. It isn't until Ned reached the Holloran's that we start to realize just what happened to Ned and why him and his wife haven't been seen or heard from in awhile. We learn that they had money trouble, had to sell their house and something happened with the children and yet Ned still remains oblivious to what is happening around him. Even in his own personal life. At the Bisswager's we get a feeling of what kind of people Ned and Lucinda were. Blue blooded high society folks, his comments of on the Bisswager's being a "different set" reminds me of Tom Buchanan view of Jay Gatsby and all other's that came from new money, this idea of aristocracy that the time line of your wealth determines a great deal more about your social standing than the amount of money you have. Ned is confused, at the end of the story Ned is cold and locked out of his home, the doors and windows shut and the inside empty, he looks to the sky to see the winter constellations and realizes that this journey was more than topographic and was a journey of self discovery, of what happened to him, his children and his wife. Is Ned's response to his life's evident collapse understandable? Is it okay to just block out unhappy memories in order to cope with life? Should Ned continue on the path of this delusional reality or should Ned come to realize what happened to him and possibly slip into a deep depression?


  1. Good question about blocking out unhappy memories just to cope with life. i think everyone does this on a small scale to an extent, but not to the point of Neddy. He completely blocked out everything that was happening to him, which I think the alcohol aided in, and still tried to just go through the motions of life, without taking responsibility of his actions. We need to be able to accept the negative or bad things in life in order to learn from them and grow as people, and then from that make the right choices moving forward.

  2. You make an excellent point Landon! I believe everyone is capable of subconsciously "blocking out unhappy memories." I agree with you that we must learn from our erroneous ways in order to evolve into stronger beings. Regression is imminent when we begin to withhold unpleasant life experiences within our own psyche. Our best bet is to face the hardening truth and find a way to live with it. The process will be challenging, but the reward is far beyond our greatest expectations. You never know who you can become until you struggle through arduous realities of this sometimes maddening world.

  3. I also think that being so drunk for so long that you've forgotten these things have even happened counts as a deep depression, it's just not being recognized. You make a good point bringing up Gatsby and the snobbishness towards "new money" - it's true that for many people, a broke Vanderbilt still earns more respect than if any one of us suddenly made a million dollars tomorrow, or even in 20 years. Ned feels like he's earned the right to forever be held in esteem, even though he clearly hasn't done anything to deserve it in a long time.

  4. The point about the attitude towards "new money" is one that Cheever would have been particularly interested in exploring.

    I am glad you brought up the explorer motif throughout. What did everyone think about that? Significance? It almost makes Neddy's journey epic...

    1. That's how I saw it, the most amazing journey's are of self discovery. So Ned really was on an expedition, it just wasn't for what he thought he was looking for. Eleanor Hill reflects exactly how I felt reading this story. Floating through a drunken haze, Seeing only what is right in front of you and forgetting everything else. Money being the biggest importance of status in your life and without that being 'less than'. It's tragic, at least I believe so. Ned was oblivious to the destruction of his own life and he tuned it out in order to continue on. I can't blame him for that. Should he wake up to reality, probably. But why would he want to. Who would want to open their eyes to the world crumbling around them if they could continue wearing a pair of rose colored glasses.