I have been having some difficulty pinning down the purpose of this novel for a couple of reasons. First, our list of ideas to “keep track of” is quite lengthy; involving art, risk, speed, relationships, gender roles, class structure, freedom, and others. I usually enjoy having multiple ideas to form my thoughts of a novel, but in this case it is getting a little ridiculous. Second, the changes in time have really confused me. I am still sometimes having a hard time distinguishing Valera and Sandro, and keeping track of whether or not the events in the current chapter or section occurred before or after the previous is becoming quite a chore, at least for me. However, chapter ten has been somewhat of a “turning point” for my opinion of this novel as well as my perceived comprehension level. Kushner incorporates time throughout this chapter, and I am beginning to believe it is the primary idea of the novel. When Stanley is “rambling” with Didier about language, he states “That it’s a fake horizon and there’s something else, a real truthful thing, but language is keeping us from it” (pg. 165). Thinking about language as a kind of barrier is strange, because although there are differences, we all use language to communicate. What is the message beyond language that is apparently so important and more truthful?
“For the face, time relays some essential message, and time is the message. It takes things away. But its passage, its damages, are all we have. Without it, there is nothing” (pg. 174). Time seems to be the truth here, because time is what builds us, hinders us, and causes us to reflect and project on events and ideas. I think Kushner is trying to get us to think about all the ideas we have been discussing/mentioning, but also wants us to realize that they are all dictated by time. The art will change, cities will change, gender roles will change, even language will change – but time will always be ticking on. On another note, I think this is why there seems to be so much emphasis on the time periods and what is happening within them, as well as the ages of the characters that Kushner and/or the narrator has conveniently included along the way; because those measurable pieces of information are important in understanding the events and actions of the time period(s) and characters.