The Happy Memories Club: Aging with Courage - Essay Example

Summary
Lee Smith’s short story, The Happy Memories Club, is a poignant tale of aging. The story challenges our preconceived ideas about aging. The author uses the character of the protagonist and narrator, Alice Scully, to depict the life of a senior citizen in a retirement community. …
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The Happy Memories Club: Aging with Courage
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Download file to see previous pages The Happy Memories Club is a telling account of Alice’s refusal to be stereotyped as a senior citizen, her adamant insistence on living life on her own terms, and her touching regret for the things she has left undone in life. Alice puts up a stiff resistance against conforming to the expectations of others regarding the behavior of a senior citizen. She protests the unfairness of the world which wants the old “to become children again, forgoing intelligence”. She considers this an insult. The physical limitation of being confined to a chair is less stifling to her than this atmosphere of treating the old as children of immature intellect. Her writing serves as a catharsis, giving her “new life and freedom”. With admirably sharp insight, she points out that people are uncomfortable when old people do not conform to the stereotypes drawn for them. Alice defiantly asserts that, contrary to expectations, the aged are still capable of “original ideas, intelligent insights, and intense feelings”. ...
She relates the rich details of her past life, including her father’s suicide, her own illicit love affair and the early death of her beloved younger sister. She has the courage to explore and accept the various facets of her life and personality with honesty, as opposed to the cowardice of those who “want us to never change, never change” (134). Alice exposes the conceit of the nurse who thinks she knows what is best for Dr. Solomon Marx. The nurse thinks his loss of memory of the Holocaust is a blessing for him, whereas Alice knows that memories are priceless at that age. They are all that remain of what were once the most important parts of one’s life. Similarly, Alice’s language and her teaching skills continue to remain important to her. Again, the nurses presumptuously put Solomon in front of the television, not bothering to find out that he hates it. The author clearly exposes the fallacy of the belief that the aged need to be told, like children, what is best for them. Alice Scully demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief about aging, it is possible for the old to live life on their own terms, and in accordance with their own, unique experiences in life. This is contrary to the popular perception that all aged people have the same needs. She protests the rigid expectations of the retirement home. Her poignant cry, “Now I expect some common decency and respect” (129), echoes the universal plea of the aged to be treated with compassion and understanding, and the freedom to make their own choices. She regrets that her call for personal freedom is termed “inappropriate” and “unmanageable” (119). Docile obedience is what is required of the aged. ...Download file to see next pagesRead more
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