What does this mean: "It is easy to have people applaud when you enter a room. The trick is to have them applaud when you leave the room"?

Expert Answers
linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I can't find this quotation in my copy of the book, but I think it has something to do with Alice's efforts to stop using drugs. She struggled with heavy peer pressure. Her "friends" were happy with her when she was using drugs with them, but when she decided to stop using, they harrassed and threatened her. Someone slipped LSD into her food, and she had such horrible hallucinations that she tore chunks of skin and hair from her body. Alice mentioned many times in her diary how no matter what she did, someone would be disappointed and angry at her. Her parents applauded her when she decided to go to rehad. Her former friends applauded her when she took drugs with them. The hard part was making the choice.

dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If a person applauds you when you enter a room, it is most likely because you have some kind of positive reputation which preceeds you.  If they applaud you as you leave the room, it would indicate that you have impressed them by what you have done or said while you were in the room together.  What the quote is saying is that, in the greater scheme of things, your actions are more important than your reputation - what you show people is of more value than what people may say about you.