Monday, February 13, 2006

Charlotte Simmons

I've never read Tom Wolfe before and in the last two weeks I've polished off Man in Full and I am Charlotte Simmons. Charlotte Simmons was depressing to me in that it portrayed the demise of young woman -- full of hope, optismism, innocence and potential -- as she encountered "normal" college life. This is a quote from the book, from the character Laurie, as she justifies to Charlotte "normal" college life: "I guess what I really mean is college is like this four-year period you have when you can try anything -- and everything -- and if it goes wrong, there's no consequences? You know what I mean? Nobody's keeping score? You can do things that if you tried them before you got to college, your family would be crying and pulling their hair out and giving you these now-see-what-you've-done looks? -- and everybody in Sparta would be clucking and fuming and having a ball talking behind your back about it? -- and if you tried these things after you left college and you're working, everybody's gonna f---ing blow a fuse, and your boss or whoever will call you in for a little talk, he'll call it, or if you have a boyfriend or a husband, he's gonna totally freak out or crawl off like a dog, which would be just as bad, because it'd make you feel guilty? I mean, look at it that way, Charlotte. College is the only time in your life, or your adult life anyway, when you can really experiment, and at a certain point, when you leave, when you graduate or whatever, everybody's memory like evaporates. You tried this and this and this and this, and you learned a lot about how things are, but nobody's gonna remember it? It's like amnesia, totally, and there's no record, and you leave college exactly the way you came in, pure as rainwater." I think Wolfe really nails the attitude of many college students through this character Laurie. And it saddens me that so many college students choose to believe the lie -- that "you can leave college exactly the way you came in, pure as rainwater." And so they live it up -- do whatever they want -- and maybe other people do forget -- but in their own minds they can never, ever forget -- which is probably worse.


Eric T. said...

yeah, that's the negative about screwing up life when you're young and dumb. and a lot of people get caught up in that.

but there's a positive. people (and by people, i mean me) learn a lot from their mistakes. sometimes, it's just not enough to say, "you'll get burned if you touch that hot plate."

thankfully, God's taught people (me) a lot through being burnt.

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie - sorry I was to lazy to go through my address book and find your current email address. Here is the link to an article that was on the front page of the Denver Post yesterday about Dave Reeves of Deck Renew fame.