Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Wonderful Old Gentleman by Dorothy Parker

This story reminds me of Middlemarch when everyone was waiting for the “old man” to die. There are people who seem to care about the old man, and there are people like Mrs. Bain who are unclear. You are not sure if she really cares that her father is dying. Mrs. Bain displays the perfect amount of emotion at every instance. She is calm through most of the story, except when it is appropriate to be weepy. The only time when she does not act “appropriately” is when she is talking about her father’s will, which also reminds me of Middlemarch. There are people who truly need the money but end up getting not much. The people who do not need the inheritance get almost everything. But, she was too excited about the will and a little snobby in the way that she told everyone that she was getting the money.

Oddly, it reminds me of my grandmother who just passed, not the part about the will but everyone waiting for him to die. My grandmother was so old. She had been ready to go for quite some time. It was not a shock when I got the call about her illness and eventual death. I had been waiting for her to die for a couple of years now. It is not that I do not or did not love her, but I knew she was suffering and unhappy. I knew she was ready. She and I had talked about it several times. So, when she passed, I was relieved. I think the characters in the story are in the same frame of mind, except a little tainted by the idea of inheritance.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you pointed out the connection between the Middlemarch situation and this story. It's a much darker view of humanity in this story--instead of employing a servant and paying her a decent wage (Mary Garth), the dying old man in this story exploits and tortures his daughter. Yet, she seems to love him, in a doomed way.
    As for the connection with present-day end-of-life situations, it's interesting that poor health can drag on and on, affecting the caregivers and their relatives the most. We behave as if technology has changed the end-of-life experience, but it really hasn't done so very much. We can keep sicker people alive longer, in better condition, but the results are much the same in terms of invalidism. It's simply the age range that's changed--many of our invalids are now 70-90 instead of 50-60.