Images of Aging in Elizabeth Strout’s Novel “Olive Kitteridge”



aging that respect the joys, the assaults, the tedium that life can throw our way–and the wonderful and terrible ways we can respond to it all.  Too often the elderly are reduced to a trope–the befuddled elder, the eternally patient and smiling grandparent, the small, fragile aunt. Strout’s book gives us Olive, a flawed yet compelling woman who takes us into layers of aging with a strident determination that, though doomed to achieve less than she hopes, allows us to come out of the book, out of her world, with a renewed appreciation for being human. Strout ends the novel with the words, “It baffled her–the world.  She did not want to leave it yet.”  Most of us, I think, would agree.  (Course led by Donald Lanctot, retired English teacher and befuddled elder).

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