To what extent does John Barth depict Ambrose as a character type in “Lost in the Funhouse”?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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There is an extent to which Ambrose is presented as the type of the young brooding, isolated, alienated artist. Yet this typification is varied in two important ways. The first way is that while he is self-conscious and fully aware of his social ineptitude--or inadequacies when compared to Peter--he maintains a satirical sense of humor about his situation. This sense of satirical humor allows him to see through the debacles in his life and not be crushed by confused melancholy.

There was some simple, radical difference about him. He hoped it was genius, feared it was madness, devoted himself to amiability and inconspicuousness.

The second way is that he uses his self-conscious knowledge about himself to exert control over his present feelings and over his future actions. Ambrose asserts that, while he would prefer to be one who goes along without difficulty, he'll adapt to the reality of what he is by being the one who orchestrates the experience of the others as the narrator explains:

he will construct funhouses for others and be their secret operator -- though he would rather be among the lovers for whom funhouses are designed.


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