Category Archives: Butler

An ENTJ that Accomodates – that’s me!

I will have a few posts on The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler. The book was a delight and invoked so many different thoughts and emotions, I decided more than one post is needed. Plus Heather said I was going to discuss deep things like religion in my post – the bar was set!

In my years (not too many) in the work force, I attended many, many management classes. (Whether they are useful is for another post). As I read this tome I was amazed at the number of relationships and the types of personalities in the book. I think any one that is in a management position since the 1990’s heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test. Yes, I took it as part of a management course. Like any other good doobie manager in the 90’s. The thinking is that we all have different personalities. If you understand the personality type of each person in your group, you can lead and motivate based on the individual. I have delved into this type of post before when we were discussing right brain versus left brain. I am a lefty! Basically there are 16 personality types and based on a test you are placed into one of the categories.

Well as you can imagine, I was a bit different. Two of my indicators were right smack in the middle of the scale. For example, I was 50% Introvert and 50% Extrovert. HA!! Everyone that meets me thinks I am a hard E. Nope! I love quiet time. I do my best studying by myself with classical music in the background. I believe all my letters are ENTJ… with E/I and P/J prone to flipping on occasion. What are yours?

What does this have to do with reading a book? Nothing, except I thought of it when I was reading. Our main character Ernest and his Aunt had a completely different personality type then the rest of their families. I believe that they were ESTP’s and the rest of the family were ISTP’s. The E and I difference are significant in this case. The ESTP’s ‘make the most of the moment’ while an ISTP ‘just does it’. As we read the story, it predominantly follows the male line of the Pontifex Family with the story ending with our main character. He broke the cycle of ineffectual fathers because his personality type was completely different from those of his father and grandfather. His great-grandfather I think was more like our hero. His personality was incompatible with his parents, sister and brother. No one understood him nor cared to. In fact the generations taught Ernest that he had to change, conform to the family personality.

As I read The Way of all Flesh by Samuel Butler, another management topic came to mind. (Yes, I think I have a graduate school affliction). The way each of us deals with conflict. In our story, each generation of males deals with conflict in a different way. Ernest’s father avoided conflict. With his father, his wife, and his children. He was an avoider. I believe Ernest and I are the same.

During my time as a graduate student, I had the opportunity to take a conflict assessment instrument based on the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict model. Each of us deals with conflict in a different way. Some people love the thrill of the fight and charge right in, others avoid conflict at all costs. The T-K instrument is used to determine what type of conflict person you are. In my case I am an accommodator.

Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative—the complete opposite of competing. When accommodating, the individual neglects his own concerns to satisfy the concerns of the other person; there is an element of self-sacrifice in this mode. Accommodating might take the form of selfless generosity or charity, obeying another person’s order when you would prefer not to, or yielding to another’s point of view.

As I read this, I realize as I have aged, just as Ernest did, I am more assertive than I was in my youth. I still bite my tongue more times than I ought!

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model

Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model

Take a look what is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What type of conflict resolution do you prefer? I would love to know!

Next post… my real review of The Way of All Flesh!

Grab a book, any book and READ!!


Quotes and Notes from The Way of All Flesh

I enjoyed Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh due to the wit and wisdom imbued in Mr. Butler’s narrative style. He has quite a way with words as he traces four generations of the Pontifex family. The main focus is on the narrator’s godson, Ernest. Through that lens we are able to able to see how the decisions, values and attitudes of one generation affected the next generation, which in turn affected the next.

I was drawn into the story slowly but completely, and was on the edge of my seat near the end of the narrative when Ernest was to receive something that would be life-altering if it truly came to pass. I also enjoyed the bits of wisdom that Mr. Butler peppered the book with in the late 1800s and which are still relevant today. Here are some of my favorites:

Butler quote

On Father/Son Relationships

“His son had fairly distanced him, and in an inarticulate way the father knew it perfectly well.”

The Haves and the Have Nots

“But I suppose that a prig with more money than brains was much the same sixty or seventy years ago as he is now.”

“Money came pouring in upon him, and the faster it came the fonder he became of it.”


“He who does not consider himself fortunate is unfortunate.”

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture of anything else, is always a portrait of himself.”

“The utmost that can be said is that we are fairly happy as long as we are not distinctly aware of being miserable.”

“He has spent his life best who has enjoyed it most.” (using this one for my email signature while we’re reading this book)


“Now he was getting a family, so that it became all the more necessary to put money by, and here was the baby hindering him.”

“His brother Theobald was no match or him, knew it, and accepted his fate.”


“What a really nice girl might have done with him I cannot tell, but fate had thrown none such in his way.”

“The result…was that he had come to dislike women, as mysterious beings whose ways were not his ways, nor their thoughts his thoughts.”

“The engagement had gone on so long that he had got into a groove, and the prospect of change was disconcerting.” (I just like that he used the word “groove”)

“Thus do we build castles in the air when flushed with wine and conquest.”

“To him she appeared a very angel dropped from the sky, and all the more easy to get on with for being a fallen one.”


“The gods which he deemed golden were in reality made of baser metal.”

“The difference between the faithful and the unbeliever consisted in the very fact that the former could see a miracle where the latter could not.”

“The clergyman is expected to be a kind of human Sunday.”


“The walls were covered with book shelves from floor to ceiling, and on every shelf the books stood in double rows. It was horrible.” (Confession – my books are in double rows and he’s right, it’s not good.)

“He did not yet know that the very worst way of getting hold of ideas is to go hunting expressly after them.”


“Some people say that their school days were the happiest of their lives.  They may be right, but I always look with suspicion upon those whom I hear saying that.”

I’m looking forward to Andi’s commentary on this because she delves deeper into the major themes, such as religion, which is front and center in this book. In the meantime, I am going to queue up the next book –  George Orwell’s classic 1984. Can’t wait to dig into that one. Keep reading!!