Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weak vs. Strong.. Rich vs. Middle Class.. Kelly weighs in..

Hey everybody, Kelly from She Wears Red Sox Cap as graciously written us a guest blog about American Wife, our Blogger Group Read for May...

I really enjoyed reading Lisa’s thoughts on American Wife, so I thought I’d add a few of my own. Like Lisa, I was a bit worried about how long it was, but it is such an engaging book that it goes by quick! I tried to include no major “spoilers” so if you haven’t finished or haven’t read at all, you can still read J

When I first started reading the book, I was a bit struck by how similar Alice was to Kate, the main character in last month’s book club read, Firefly Lane. They both seemed to choose friends with very strong personalities. Dena, Alice’s best friend reminded me in so many ways to Tully, Kate’s best friend. It got me thinking about friendships and relationships in general.

Do you think people are either born as a strong personality or a “go with the flow” personality, or do you think some people can be both depending on what relationship they are in?

To me it seems that Alice is the weaker personality in many of her close relationships including her friendship with Dena, her marriage to Charlie and even at times in her relationship with her sister in law. This role that she takes on in her relationships seems to lead to “blow out” fights with those close to her when she finally decides to stand up for herself. This happened with Dena, and later with Charlie. This is not to say that I blame Alice for either situation, but I think that strong personalities and weak personalities coming together can often accentuate the strength and weak and lead to a situation that cannot work, particularly for the weaker person. And on a similar subject, is the “weaker” person actually weak, or simply less sure about their own correctness in a given situation? Alice says, “When I see political pundits on television, or meet the Republican ones at events in or outside the White House, what strikes me most is their certainty. Is it exaggerated for the cameras, or do they in the privacy of their homes, at the end of the day, remove it along with their socks and stockings? Or are they always so bombastic and assured? I envy them as I envy the deeply religious…but I have felt incapable of joining their ranks.” I could really relate to this quote, as I have strong views about some things, but on others I can just see both sides and I’m simply, not sure. I have also been the “weaker” (or lesser) personality in some of my friendships, but does that make me weak, or just less sure about my own opinions?

Are you 100 percent sure about your own rightness in your opinions, or do you have your moments where you consider the other side?

Another interesting theme that I saw throughout the book was Alice feeling uncomfortable with the place she was, for example at the country club (both because she did not feel part of that group of people, and because she would think about poor people who did not have these advantages) and in the White House. I found this interesting both because it was relatable for everyone (who hasn’t been somewhere and wondered, do I belong here at all?) but also because I feel like it ties back to the quote that Lisa wrote about Alice giving her political thoughts for her husband. She did not simply give up her politics, she also gave up her lifestyle. There is a huge difference between being a school librarian and a housewife at a country club. In marrying Charlie, she was choosing that lifestyle and I think while that may seem like an obvious upgrade for some, for Alice it was a bit of a difficult decision because she felt comfortable in her “middle class” life. Unlike the political differences, Alice doesn’t seem to truly consider the lifestyle change until she is already married and part of the life, which I find amazing (though not surprising considering how short their “dating” time was). I suppose I don’t believe in the kind of love that Alice claims to have for Charlie, where you don’t care if you don’t agree on your fundamental opinions, or if your lifestyle may change to something you don’t even necessarily want for yourself. At least it wouldn’t work for me. I think you need to love with your eyes open, and realize what your life will be like when you choose to spend it with someone else. I’m not saying you should only settle for a millionaire so you can travel the world, but I think realistically you want to be with someone whose life you feel comfortable with.

What do you think? Could you love someone even if it meant a lifestyle you might not want? Would you ever feel like you belonged if you married into a world you did not grow up in?

Wow, two great guest blogs on the same book!! Thanks Kelly and Lisa! I am most definitely not a go with the flow person. I try really hard to be, and am pretty adaptable but I like a plan. Even if the plan doesn't work out. Though, I can be go with the flow in some situations. I just like a general plan. I am also very indecisive!!! ;) My husband is very much a go with the flow kind of guy. I think my gun-ho loudness and is hey whatever Mr. Jimmy Buffett attitude work real well together!

If I am remembering correctly, I think Alice has always wanted to belong. She adapts to those around her to fit in and have people around her and she deals with the differences by ignoring until it gets to a point where she can longer do so and then she explodes. I think she is afraid people won't like her if she tells them what she thinks. I think she is wrong to assume that!

Can't wait to hear what you all think!!


Alee said...

Just stopping by to let you know I gave you an award on my blog!

Becky said...

What a great post! I love how you said you need to "love with your eyes open" - sooo true! Interesting point about the strong/weak personalities - I definitely think if you're not born that way it develops quickly - I don't know if that's something you could change based on certain relationships.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Great post, Kelly! I didn't think about how similar Alice was to Kate, but you are so right!

I sort of flex my personality to the people around me. In general, I'd say I have a pretty strong personality with strong opinions, but if I am around a stronger personality, I will tone it down and sort of lay low, mostly to avoid potential conflict. However, I could never date someone where I'd constantly feel like I had to keep my mouth shut. It's a challenge for me because I do not want to date someone who is a simpleton with no opinion (the kind of guy who has no opinion and will go along with whatever I want), but I don't want to date someone overly opionionated and prone to lots of debating because it would get old fast. So I need something in the middle!

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Great post! I love reading everyone's point of view of Alice! I identify with her so well because I'm a lot like her. I envy people who are extremely sure of themselves and wish I could be more like that. I am just not though. I am a very empathetic person and am can almost always see someone elses point of view and feel for them. It's almost too much sometimes and makes me very irritated when people do not do the same for me.

Kelly said...

Thanks for reading guys! I have no internet at home this week (torture!) so I'm a little late to the party!