Caring From a Distance

In the play By the water by Sharyn Rothstein, Marty and Mary Murphy find themselves in a jam when they need money to pay off the mortgage against their own house. In addition to this financial crisis, Marty and Mary’s house was just destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. However Marty made his son, Sal,  the owner of the house so the debt is really in Sal’s name. Sal decides to pay off his family’s debt which has its consequences. He states, “It’s gonna push back Jen’s plans but, if we dig into our savings”(Rothstein, 48). It is peculiar how Jen is willing to make this sacrifice for Sal’s family, yet she is not there to help them with the destruction of their house or during this financial crisis. This lead to me to the question, does Jen help Marty and Mary out in an attempt to control her distance from them?

I believe Jen allowed Sal to buy out his parents debt for the purpose of distancing herself from them. If Marty and Mary decided to leave, they could potentially move closer to her and Sal which I do not think she wants. In a conversation discussing Jen’s opinion on Sal paying off his parents’ debt, Sal states, “At first, Jen was supportive. ‘Your parents are in need, we’ve got to help them’ ‘She really meant it, too.'”(Rothstein, 46). The diction that Rothstein uses in the word “meant” indicates that Jen does not feel as passionately about helping his parents as before. Also, this quote is another example of Jen showing her empathy towards Sal’s parents, but she is still not there. In conclusion, I believe Jen allowed Sal to buy out his parents’ debt to keep them away from her and Sal.

3 thoughts on “Caring From a Distance

  1. Michael, I think this is an engaging question to ask. It is important to pay attention to details and I like how you looked so closely at the tense and word choice that is used in order to make your argument. Jen is physically not there, I am not sure if that can insinuate that she wants to keep the distance from Sal’s parents. We don’t hear or see from Jen at all, so it is hard to make a strong case on this question. Personally, I think that Jen’s demanding job and schedule are keeping her from visiting Sal’s parents. The contributions that she has made and continues to make to Sal’s parents are very generous. If Jen really wanted distance, they way to do it would be to cut them off completely. Instead, when Jen is about to invest in her own business, she uses that money to help out Marty and Mary. That gesture speaks a lot to how she feels. Since Jen continues to help out Marty and Mary, I think that she is not purposefully keeping her distance, but instead doing her job.

  2. I agree with the argument that “Jen allowed Sal to buy out his parents’ debt to keep them away from her and Sal” in the play of “By the Water” by Sharyn Rothstein. One question I had in mind while reading this play is why does the audience never meet Jen? Even though Jen is brought up countless times, she is never physically presented. This question will simply never be answered; however, it is an interesting one to discuss. Although the simple idea of being busy could counter this argument of why Jen never shows up, I believe that Jen’s absence could also possibly be due to her desire to not want be around Sal’s family. Sal’s family is harmful to Jen’s concentration within her career development. Ultimately as a way to cope with this harm, Jen simply uses distance to give her room to breathe.
    I want to further this idea by demonstrating when Mary asks Sal “Does Jennifer make you laugh? She makes you happy?” (26). This quote furthers Michael’s argument by proving that Sal keeps his relationship with Jen very private. This quote essentially shows the audience that no one in the family really knows what Sal’s and Jen’s relationship is truly like. This idea of secrecy makes me believe that neither Jen wants to be seen by the family nor see the family. By ultimately not visiting them or respectively meeting them, she utilizes her money by skipping the entire stage of getting to know Sal’s family. Jen definitely knows how Sal’s family is like and avoids their presence by utilizing privacy and money to avoid drama and unneeded family tension during a primal time in her career.

    Ultimately, I believe Michael’s post helped me further Jen’s absence to ponder about different possibilities about this desire for distance.

  3. I believe in caring from a distance and this story from Mary Murphy rally inspires me there is a lot to learn from the jam of life. There is more inspiring stuff on uk dissertation and they are passionate about their services and they provide quality stuff.