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Memory In John Steinbeck's The Sense Of An Ending

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In the novel, The Sense of an Ending, the protagonist is recalling a series of events in his life through his own memories. Throughout the novel Tony, the protagonist, admits to being a victim of his imperfect memory. As well as addressing the idea that memory is imperfection, Tony introduces his own concept of damage. “I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not…” (Barnes 48). Although it can be somewhat agreed upon that all people suffer from damage in one form or another, what Tony does not address is the degree of damage that each person faces. He failed to take into account that some people suffer significantly greater than other. Another thing that Tony fails to realize is that he himself is one of the…show more content…
The extent of his damage includes his broken form of rationalization, his already established damaged relationships, his lack of self accountability, his judgement of those around him. From the beginning of the novel, it is shown that Tony and his friends are different because of their philosophical ideas and discussions. Although nothing is wrong with philosophical questioning and reasoning, the problem arises when every answer to every question must be explained fundamentally. Philosophy has unanswered questions all the time, if it did not then there would be no more questions to discuss because everyone would already have all of the answers. Tony taught that he needed an answer to every question. With this mindset he could not possibly love or form relationships properly because everything that he did had to have rhyme or reason. Where there is induction and deduction he could only make out deduction. This is one of the bases of his damage, rationalizing things that have no answer to their questions. What arises falsely as an answer when there is none, is an assumption. “Old Joe Hunt said… that mental states can be inferred from actions… Whereas in the private life, I think the converse is true: that you can infer past actions from current mental states” (48). Tony believes that you can recognize one’s entire complex lifetime, simply by looking at who…show more content…
They did not agree on a lot of things, there was a lack of communication, and they were generally unhappy. All of these things added to Tony’s already existing damage; however, even though this was his first real relationship, Veronica was not the catalyst to Tony’s future unhealthy relationships. Tony’s perception of Veronica is skewed, meaning that the readers have most likely interpreted Veronica’s character as exactly through the eyes of Tony. He sees her as manipulative, so that is how she is read in the novel because it is all through Tony’s eyes. Before reprimanding Veronica’s character on whether or not she is favorable, consider that if Tony felt in any way mistreated, he had always had the power to leave the relationship. Yet he stayed. There are two possibilities for the reason why Tony did not immediately leave Veronica. The first being that, even though Veronica was terrible and nasty, Tony was so damaged that he could not recognize that this was an unhealthy relationship. The second is that, Veronica was never as bad and Tony made her out to be and every unfavorable thought of her was the result of his damaged perception and imperfect memory. It is important to remember that this novel is written through memories, so the fact that Tony is trying to erase his relationship with Veronica out if his mind is translated through the
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