Did Caro live in a concentration camp at one time in As We Are Now?

Caro did not literally live in a concentration camp, but she does refer to her nursing home as a “concentration camp for the old.” Caro compares the nursing home to a concentration camp to highlight the lack of freedom and the poor conditions she experiences at this institution.

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The novel As We Are Now follows the experiences of Caro in her aging years, having been placed into a nursing home. The idea of a "concentration camp" is a metaphor that Caro uses for the nursing home. In the life Caro led before this time, however, she was a...

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The novel As We Are Now follows the experiences of Caro in her aging years, having been placed into a nursing home. The idea of a "concentration camp" is a metaphor that Caro uses for the nursing home. In the life Caro led before this time, however, she was a teacher and a person of relative success, with a good life. She did not ever literally experience living in a concentration camp or go through such a horrid time before now.

Caro's story is meant to invite the reader to consider how we as a society treat the aging and perhaps to even make us consider our own old age and what may become of us. Caro is placed there for the convenience of care, but as the facility is understaffed, and poorly supervised, she has a miserable experience. In light of this experience, Caro, an intelligent and observant person, says:

I am in a concentration camp for the old. A place where people dump ... their relatives exactly as though it were an ash can.

The notion of a concentration camp in particular comes from Caro's experience with the facility, the staff, and the character of Harriet, the head of the facility. Caro's experience is one of having her individuality stripped away and being treated in a way that she finds dehumanizing and somewhat brutish. This is a common criticism of institutions in which people are sometimes cared for only in regard to their very basic needs, but all other elements of personal character, respect, and dignity are disregarded. It is this element of the experience that leads her to make this comparison with the concentration camp, not a previous life experience of literally being placed in one.

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