The age of the characters
Overall, I began to suspect that Jack and Hope could be elderly people when the author mentioned that in the past these characters were married to other people long time ago. In particular, the narrator says that Hope was a widow, while Jack had divorced his wife who died at a certain time in the past (Segal 451). Later the readers can see that the main characters already have children and grandchildren. This is perhaps the most eloquent indicator of their old age. These examples convinced me that that Jack and Hope could not be young people. Yet, in retrospection, one can refer to other clues about the age of the characters. For instance, Hope says that she is going to learn French, while he wants “to learn how to pray” (Segal 451). The thing is that old people often tend to think about something that they did not do when they were young. Overall, there are several reasons why Lore Segal chose to withhold the information about the age of the main characters. First of all, she wanted to show that old age does not deprive people of their ability to enjoy life. Jack and Hope are as cheerful as young people. This is why it is rather difficult to deduce their age.
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The author also wants us to see that Jack and Hope are willing to learn something or change some of their habits. In this way, Lore Segal attempts to break a common stereotype according to which old people are unable to accept new ideas and learn new skills. Provided that the author had stated the age of their characters at the very beginning, the readers could have had a different perception of this story. Additionally, she wanted to set an example for many young people who do not know very much about aging. In fact, the very idea of aging is utterly unacceptable for many young people. The thing is that Jack and Hope are still able to find humorous moments in their lives. There are things that bring them joy. This is one of the reasons why they are able to retain their vitality. In this regard, one can speak Hope’s. When she looks into the mirror, she understands that she is no longer beautiful as she could have been at the time of her youth. However, Hope does not think that she should fall into despair because of her lost beauty. Thus, one can say that Lore Segal urges the readers to contrast their assumptions about old age with the actual behavior of the main characters. Overall, this short story shows that people should reevaluate their views on aging.
Summary of the story
The short story The Arbus Factor written by Lore Segal describes a brief episode in the life of a two old people, Jack and Hope who are dining at a French restaurant. They are sharing their experiences and recollections with one another. Jack intends to speak about the things that he wants to change, especially his habits. Hope also acknowledges that she has to change some of her habits. Later, they begin to speak a relationship that they had before they married other people. In particular, Hope mentions the time that the spent in France. It seems that the characters refer to this period with tenderness and probably some regret.
The author shows that Hope and Jack already have children and grandchildren who await them outside the restaurant. The descriptions that the writer provides indicate the main characters require the support of other people, for instance, they cannot move across the city with their children’s help. Their children have to arrange meetings for them. The story ends with the scene when Hope looks into the mirror and sees that her face bears distinct marks of the old age. Yet, she is able to accept her old age with humor and irony. On the whole, this book can produce a life-affirming impression on the readers, because it shows that old age can be full of joyful moments. Yet, a person should retain a sense of humor in order to life a fulfilling life.
Segal, Lore. “The Arbus Factory.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Ed. Laurence M. Behrens. New York: Longman, 2011. 450-452. Print.