Sleeping in a Nursing Home

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            I may be reaching here, but I think Annabel, Alice, and Corvus represent different stages of life: childhood/adolescence, middle age, and old age. First of all, Annabel's obsession with belongings, looks, and boys places her in the childhood/adolescence stage. During her first conversation with Alice, she says "but usually I'm very conscious of my body and I want to look pretty and have pretty things and be happy" (29). She also seems less concerned about her morals and more concerned about what others think. She goes on a camping trip "wearing a shiny red jacket that looked expensive" (140). Rather than being reasonable by dressing in frumpy clothes suitable for a camping trip she has to look her best. She also cares more about the number of boys she had sex with rather than having sex with someone she is in love with (31).  Her image is what is most important to her.

            Alice sees this immaturity in Annabel, frequently contradicting her, and acts more like that of someone going through middle age. Rather than sharing Annabel's obsession with looks, she observes disapprovingly saying, "'She wants to perfect parts of herself by choosing patinas and little adornments and effects that are apparently recognized by people she wants to be recognized by, or so she says.' Alice frowned" (61). Alice contradicts matters of life and questions what mainstream society thinks. She and Corvus both make comments regarding death: "'I think you can only do bad things,' Corvus said, 'if you forget you're going to die"' (148). Alice contradicts saying, "'Remembering you're going to die lets you do bad things'" (148). Annabel would rather focus on herself rather than these complex ideas, which is demonstrated in the following quote:

"'That guy wasn't up to this kind of thinking,' Alice said.

Who is? Annabel thought" (149).

Perhaps Annabel has not yet experienced enough of life to think as complexly as Alice and Corvus. Maybe it is true that we become wiser with age; therefore, Alice and Corvus can think in a more mature, analytical way.

            As Corvus deals with her grief, she seems to come closer and closer to death and is ready to throw in the towel so to speak in her old age frame of mind. Despite her grief, she chooses to volunteer at a nursing home, a place she will soon feel at home at. She even says "I don't hate anybody" (204). She soon begins to only sleep and go to the nursing home: "'That young woman sleeps too much,' her granny said. 'I wish there was something we could do for her"' (206). Alice, being in the middle aged frame of mind, feels uncomfortable in the nursing home. For instance, she tells Corvus, "I don't do as well in this place as you do" (181). Going to the nursing home becomes second nature to Corvus near the end of the novel, "She pulled out, shifting slowly, no thought arising, to Green Palms" (275). Corvus's stages of grief seem to parallel her symbolic aging. Eventually, she lands herself in an empty room at Green Palms. Like most elderly people, she ends her aging in a nursing home.

5 Comments

Jessica Orlowski said:

So... I agree that Alice and Corvus are more mature, but it could be that Corvus OR Alice could be close to a young age. Alice is stuck in a permanent state of childhood because she can't have children. Therefore, I took this to mean that she is the person closest to childhood. Also, Corvus is so dependent on Alice that couldn't this mean that SHE is the closest to childhood?

Jess,

That dependence, though, could also support Brooke's argument here. My grandma lives in my house and she is completely dependent on my mom. She can't bathe herself, change her own clothes, cook, go upstairs to the bathroom (she has a potty chair in my parents' bedroom... yes, ew), and literally every action she takes is because my mom tells her it's time to do something. "Mom, it's 7PM, you better go to the bathroom," is a nightly ritual I hear every night. Also, I learned in my Adult Development class that life is kind of like bringing everything full circle. We begin being dependent on our parents, but in the end of their lives, they generally have to depend on us a lot more, or even completely. This supports Brook's case here.

Good point though :)

Brooke Kuehn said:

Jess, i agree that all three have their moments of immaturity, but don't we all? I worked at a clothing store a few years ago with a variety of ages and believe me those older women were no more mature than the girls in my freshman class of high school. I dont remember reading about Alice not being able to have children. Do you remember where it said that?
Karyssa, i viewed Corvus's dependency the same way you did, although i see jess's point as well. THe life cycle defintitly seems to run full circle where eventually the elderly have to be cared for like they were as children, unless they die before old age gets to them.
Thanks for your comments!!

Jessica Orlowski said:

It doesn't say that she can't have children exactly, but only at the moment.. page 38 "Alice had'nt had her period since hte last time she'd practiced roping on Saint Francis,and that had been almost five years ago. She was gangly as a willet now, a misanthrope and disbeliever."

Brooke Kuehn said:

I see what you are saying then. Its like she is not maturing like most women would physically meaning she is still caught up in childhood.

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