There are many characters we are introduced to in the book- some of which we learn about more than others, and some of which we know close to nothing about. The Man is the protagonist in the book, and so we learn about others form a point of view that many be biased; we are not sure if he is sharing with us his opinions on them, or if these are actual facts. It is safe to say, however, that we make moral judgments on these people based on what little we know about them, and suddenly our opinions are formed. Even about the Man- we formed opinions about him when there is still so little we know about him. It was never discussed whether he was happy in his situation or with his actions or with what he has done. Regardless of the lack of discussion about happiness, I feel that Aristotle’s theories on happiness would be most applicable to this book and the characters in this book in that the characters were concerned with their own happiness. I feel that many of the characters in this book were driven towards things that they believed would bring them happiness. Another point to mention, it was never discussed what constituted happiness in this culture or in the opinion of these individual characters. Happiness is subjective- everyone has a different idea of happiness. However, there are other concepts important to Aristotle’s theories, like morality and virtue, which I did not get a huge sense of in this book.
Even The Man, for example, it wasn’t discussed what would make him happy- it was just continuous discussion about money and his business for the first bulk of the book. It was just assumed by the reader that money and power was this Man’s opinion of success and happiness, which happens often for people. It was not later in the book where we find that the looses all of his possessions, is still looking to help people (particular young individuals with the same aspirations and a young ‘Man’), and was looking to find fulfillment in personal relationships as with the Pretty Girl, his son, etc.
One point in Aristotle’s writings he mentions what I can only assume to be the concept of death, and how one looks back with a sense of reflection trying to evaluate his or her own life and deciding whether or not it is fulfilling. There comes a point where one realizes that material possessions were not all the important, and the true importance lied in the concepts of love, family, kindness, etc. I feel that at the end of this book, when the Man was living with the Pretty Girl and they were sharing the final stages of their lives together, I felt a sense of this reflection Aristotle spoke about, and I feel that it became evident that the Man found the importance in life.
I did not care particularly for the writing style of this book. I believe it gave entirely too much detail in a blunt manner than made me feel uncomfortable at times. I don’t read books often, mostly just nursing textbooks, so I can’t say that I have much to compare the writing style to. I felt as though this book was more a narrative that a novel, perhaps because it was in the firs person and I felt as thought we were really connected to the Man. I hope the book would delve more into the feelings of the man- how he felt about his situation, what he thought he should strive for in the greater scheme of things, what happiness really meant. I felt that there were certain parts of the Man that were isolated. I do not feel that I can particularly connect the writing style with any moral ideas we have learned through out this semester.
Thesis: “Happiness is subjective- different things bring each and every one of us different amounts of pleasure. While many people value materialistic objects as the key to a happy life, oftentimes it is through personal relationships and doing good for others that we as a human race feel the most fulfilled”.