"Once I'd driven out of Newark...It was, in fact, as though the hundred and eighy feet that the suburbs rose in altitude about Newark brought one closer to heaven..." (8).
Explanation: Neil's family lives in Newark compared to Brenda, whose family lives in the suburbs. The suburbs was something that contrasted Neil's life. It was nice, and above the city of Newark by all means. Brenda's family clearly has a lot more money and has nice family meals compared to Neil who does not have fancy family dinners or eat nice meals every day. He had driven out of the city with "...packed-in tangle of railroad crossings, switchmen shacks, lumberyards, Dairy Queens, and used-car lots.."(8). The suburbs are completely different from where he lives.
"Is he having his fixed?" "Why are you so nasty" "I'm not. I'm sorry" (13).
"Why don't you have your eyes fixed" "There you go again" "I'm sorry" (15).
Explanation: Brenda does not like when Neil asks if she is going to have something "fixed". It seems as if Brenda gets frustrated with Neil when he says stupid comments. Neil can be very sarcastic and Brenda does not like this. It comes up many times where Brenda gets mean and snippy at Neil when he asks if something is going to be fixed. This is important because it says something about Brenda's personality- she is firm and sticks with her own opinions. She also will not put up with Neil's "smart-ass" comments showing that she may think she is above him.
"This is all very fast" (17).
"Actually we did not have the feelings we said we had until we spoke them... to phrase them was to invent them and own them" (19).
Brenda and Neil like each other very much. Within 18 hours they had many feelings for each other. They both knew it was very fast and they agreed on that even though not much has happened, their feelings have developed very fast. Since it is so fast, the feelings develop through when they say them out loud, according to Neil. He speaks his feelings and then he sees that what he talks is how he feels.
"None of us ate together" (4).
"We did not eat in the kitchen; rather, the six of us... sat around the dining room table..." (21).
This explains the two contrasting lives between Brenda and Neil. Neil's aunt never makes anyone the same meal and they never eat at the same time. They do not have fancy dinners around the dining room table unlike Brenda who has nice, family dinners every night. Her family eats together around a nice table and they eat the same thing. They have nice dinner conversations and do not rush to leave the table. This again demonstrates the idea of class classification. The lower class represents Neil and the upper class represents Brenda.
"I'm not her slave" (15).
"You have to sit with Julie. Carlota's off" (38).
"I felt like Carlota..." (40).
At the pool, Niel asks Doris to hold Brenda's glasses. She responds by telling Niel that she's not her slave, but implying that Niel is and that Niel will do anything for Brenda. Now, Niel was told by Brenda to babysit Julie when they took Ron to the airport. Niel feels uncomfortable and he feels like Carlota, the Patimkin's maid. He does not like the feeling of being bossed around like the family does to Carlota and he does not know what to think of it. He will do anything to make Brenda happy as Doris points out. But, he does not want to be the slave, like Carlota is. I think that he may worry whether their class differences will damage their relationship.
"He wants canned peaches, I have a refrigerator full of grapes I have to get rid of..." (6).
"...it was heaped with fruit, shelves swelled with it, every color, every texture, and hidden within every kind of pit. There were greengage plums, black plums, red plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches, long horns of grapes, black, yellow, red, and cherries..." (43).
On page 6, Neil's family is having dessert. They usually have canned fruits or fruit their mom needs to get rid of. And she worries about getting rid of them because she does not want her food going to waste. This is opposing the Patimkin's fridge due to the fact that the fridge described on page 43 is not their primary fridge. This one is in the basement. Clearly they are not worried about wasting food or getting rid of it. Neil was shocked with the amount of food there was. It was more than he ever had in his house and he never has had so many options. It is again, the completely different lifestyle they live.
"Paul Gaugiun. He was a Frenchman" (37).
"...and finally headed up the long marble stairs that led to Tahiti" (47).
"Is the book back?... The Gauguin" (58).
The Gauguin is a book that Neil has in his library. It is a book of art pictures painted by this french painter, Gauguin. Every day when the black boy comes into the library, he looks through this book. Tahiti is a place in French Polynesia and it was described as a place in the hallway. It makes me think of if there will be a later connection in the book between the library and France. Furthermore, every day the black boy looks at this book and suddenly, a white older man wants to check it out. It is interesting because it is the same book out of hundreds in the art section. Again, I start to wonder if there will be a connection of these two characters with Neil in the middle of them at some point.
"Did I sound nasty? I didn't mean to... I'm sorry" "Stop apologizing" (17).
"Why do you sound nasty again? Do I? Yes. I didn't say I was sorry" (51).
Neil and Brenda have been seeing each other every night. They have become really close and Neil has started to love Brenda. She is one of the only people he cares for, so therefore he wants to make her happy. Before, he didn't really know how to act around her so he would apologize for his actions when apologies were not needed. Now that they are closer, and more comfortable around each other, he does not apologize and he continues on conversation.
"I'll be driving a---a tan Plymouth" (8).
"...I had still been awake when the Chrysler had pulled out of the garage..." (69).
"...we had driven the Volkswagon..." (70).
Class differences is a big theme as this book, as mentioned many times before. There are many different aspects to distinct between the classes, cars being one of them. Neil drives a very old Plymouth and did not want to tell Brenda what year it is because he will be embarrassed about it in front of her. His car does not compare to her nice cars, like Rons Chrysler or the Volkswagon. You can tell how wealthy you are by the kind of car you drive. The Chrysler and Volkswagon are newer and better cars, showing how Brenda lives a wealthy life style
"I can't even think of her as my mother. She hates me" (25).
"'Oh Mother!' and Brenda was crying. 'Why the hell are you like this!'"(65).
From the beginning of Neil and Brenda's relationship, Brenda told Neil she did not like her mother and that they have never gotten a long. When Neil is staying at their house, Brenda and her mom get in a huge fight and Neil finally sees what she is saying when Brenda says they do not get a long. Neil feels very bad because he feels as if he is the reason for their fight. Brenda says that is not the case and that her mother is chaotic and again that they always fight.
Chapter 6, 7 & 8
"...I was somehow beginning to look the way she wanted me to. Like herself" (70).
"...the outside who might one day be an insider" (94).
Neil has spent a lot of time at the Patimkin's. Not only is he in love with Brenda, but he wants to be a part of their family. He wants to be accepted and not looked at as some one who is below him, class wise. Throughout the book, he has become more accepted into their family and more accustomed to their lifestyle. When he went running with Brenda on page 70, he was wearing the same clothes as her showing how he is conforming to their society. Then on page 94, Neil is picking up silver patterns for Mrs. Patimkin and when he is at the store talking to Ron and Mr. Patimkin, he wishes that he was a part of their society and lifestyle even more. He feels that every day he is more and more accepted.
"...and the Negesses moved slowly down the shore and began to throw leis at us and say 'Goodbye, Columbus... goodbye, Columbus... goodbye...'" (74).
"'Till then, goodbye, Ohio State, goodbye, red and white, goodbye, Columbus... goodbye, Columbus... goodbye'" (105).
Neil is listening to Ron's Columbus record. He has never listened to it directly but he has heard it from his room before, on page 74, and then dreams about it that night. When he hears it, he thinks about it closely. In my opinion, "Goodbye, Columbus" is symbolizing Neil's voyage to the new world, just like the voyage Columbus took. Neil has been on a journey the whole summer to be a part of the rich Patimkin family. Neil gets the benefactors from the Patimkin's just as Columbus did from the King. They take these voyages to get riches and what they want. Neil is just like Columbus in this situation.
"I was not joyful, but disturbed, as I had been more and more with the though that when Brenda went back to Radcliffe, that would be the end for me... There'd been no hints of ending our affair from Brenda..." (75).
"I think Brenda was crying too when I went out the door" (135).
Brenda went back to school and Neil decided to go visit her. They got in their second largest argument in their relationship and that was the end of it. Neil had walked out on her and he did not think he could love her again, at least for a long time. It was shocking to him because he wanted them to get married and he wanted to talk to her about it when he came to visit. But just the opposite happened.
"'I love you,' I said. 'I do'" (54).
"I was sure I had loved Brenda, though standing there, I knew I couldn't any longer" (135).
The end of their relationship had come. They both admitted how they loved each other and after saying it they realized the past tense they used while saying it. It was an expected ending to readers but shocking to Neil and Brenda as I mentioned before. They may have once loved each other but after the fights, they do not anymore.