Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Are You an Alice or a Chalie?


"It was strange to have been reminded of Simon while standing in this guest cottage on the Blackwell vacation compound, strange to think how different this place was, surely, from the pea farm where Simon's family lived.  He would, I imagined, find the Blackwells indulgent and vulgar and self-satisfied, and they in turn would find him dour and humorless - not that they would ever cross paths.  So what did it mean that I could dwell in either camp without much difficulty?  Was I mutable, without a fixed identity?  I could see the arguments for every side, for and against people like the Blackwells, for and against a person like Simon.  Yet it was hard to imagine Charlie's behavior, unlike my own, changing depending on whom he dated; he would always be Charlie.  He had told me I had a strong sense of myself, but I wondered then if the opposite was true - if what he took for strength was really a bending sort of accommodation to his ways, if what he saw when he looked at me was the reflection of his own will and personality."

- narrator Alice Blackwell in American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld (2008)

Are you an Alice - mutable and shape-shifting - or a Charlie - fixed and unbending?  Which do you aspire to be?

Image: The Shadow of a Woman by Bernardo Bolanos via Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

10 comments:

  1. Being flexible while being true to oneself is an art but a necessity in life. You've been tagged. I hope you'll play.

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  2. In this life we live, where our identity is defined by so many outside of us, we must be able to be flexible. While we may not want to be as flexible as to be considered shape-shifting, we cannot be unbending.

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  3. I am definitely Alice. Sometimes I really don't like that about myself, in truth.

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  4. What she said. :)
    I'm an Alice. And I don't know if I like it about myself either. Am pretty sure I don't.

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  5. Wonderful question. I would like to think I am an Alice. I like change. I crave evolution. I must admit there is something oddly appealing about standing still, being fixed and steady though. I imagine that in truth I am - and we all are - somewhere between Alice and Charlie. I would venture to say each and every one of us has aspects of each.

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  6. I believe we can have a strong identity, while still being mutable. Our ability to evolve, to flicker in and out, is sometimes the key to survival.

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  7. When I was younger, I was every boyfriend's Alice - I'd try my best to be whatever they wanted me to be. As I get older, without being stodgy or stuck in my ways, I'm very much who I am. Is that being a Charlie? I change but but probably because I change not because someone's in my life and I need to mutate to suit them.

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  8. I'm mostly an Alice. I'm not sure I like that about myself, either. But it's who I am. But I can say this, I'm less and less Alice the older I get. In good ways.

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  9. Oh, this is a tough one. I would never want to be unbending and fixed. But I am working, at this late age, at being a little less ammenable to the whole world. How about you?

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  10. I can't answer this question. I am growing. Changing. Becoming. Maybe in a few years?

    Or, does that response make me and Alice?

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