Category Archives: The Way of All Flesh

Loved Way of All Flesh!

I loved this book!! There enough said.

Okay that is another form of Bleating  short and concise, no work for me and you know I liked the book. You all should be sitting up in your seats wondering “Why did you love it? Tell, Andi Tell!!” Okay my blog readers I will tell!

Well there are few items that make this book a good for me. First and foremost, a happy ending. I love happy endings. I said it before and I will say it again – I love happy endings. Real life is has too many sad endings, I read for enjoyment, therefore, I want a neat and wrapped up ending (big, huge pink bow preferred). Next, Butler is a superb author. His command of the English language coupled with the ability to weave a story is superior. Heather and I discussed this one day. What made this book so great? Seriously, it is a book about yet another dysfunctional family. Why did we get sucked in? I think it is the way that Butler writes that does it. He starts with the great grandfather and then continues to wend his way through the history of the family.  It isn’t until he introduces our main character that he begins to write from the character point of view. He delves deeper as he draws you in closer to our ‘hero’. I wanted to know what Ernest wore, said, did, thought… everything. Yet as you look at the story from a 10,000 feet level it isn’t that intriguing. It is a story about a guy that doesn’t get along with his parents and doesn’t like his job. That is the story of most of the population. It is the prose, the words, the narrative…. the author that draws you in. Butler is fantastic! I was going to add in quotes but Heather did that in her post ( Heather’s Butler Post). (More Bleating!!) Chalk up another one for the Son-Mother issues list for this one. Wowza! I just hope my son doesn’t become a successful author. Odds are that it will be a mother issue that does it and what will that say about me?

A few deep thoughts from Andi’s brain on this tome –

We follow Ernest from his childhood through adulthood. He is brought up under certain beliefs (I won’t spoil the story for you) yet the beliefs are challenged each day as he matures. Butler addresses hard subjects such as religion, social classes and the family unit throughout the story. Religion seems as though it would be a boring and stuffy topic in a piece of fiction but not so. Butler has Ernest learn the most of his faith from a poor neighbor that would not be suspected to have read the bible but to have milled over the inconsistencies of the New Testament. Butler through the use of Ernest’s father to show the change in the religious ways during this time as well as the thoughts of Ernest to express questions of faith. One may think that questioning faith leads to atheism or some other nonsense. This is not the case, through Ernest’s struggles with his faith we follow his journey of not blindly following religion but that of questioning and finding reasoning to discover – yes there is a God. This is a very difficult way to write and not cross over into religious fanatic. Butler did it. (Yes, I will give the nod to James Joyce on being able to do this also.)

Next, was the notion that good people come from all classes of our society. We all know this in principle but Butler does a great job of showing it to us through everyday events. Ernest’s landlady is a Madam yet is one of the most trustworthy of people in his life. The rich and privileged Pontifex family had a lot to learn about parenting while the family Ernest entrusted with his children was of the working class. Just lots of great thought provoking yet readable (unlike Lowry) ideas. One of our Twitter followers said this was a satire, I don’t think I agree. What do you think?

I put this one up there as one of the best we read so far. I really enjoyed it!

Grab a book, any book AND READ!!

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!!