What is the background of Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond?

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Norman is a retired college professor.  He is in his eighties.  He is White, and probably relatively well- off.  By "well- off," we can presume he has a good and stable retirement fund in which he and Ethel are able to live.  At the same time, Norman is enduring many of the challenges of the elderly such as forgetfulness, as well as the basic idea of how to construct reality in the latter part of one's years.  Part of what underscores Norman's background is the fact that he understands that there is less of life to live than what has been lived.  Such a background is what has caused a rift between he and his daughter, Chelsea, something that assists in assembling back together as the play progresses.  Norman's background does not lend itself to broad social connections and forging a great deal of social solidarity with others.  Rather, his world is an inwardly drawn one, something where the most defining elements are intimate and local.  The challenges of seeking to mend his relationship with Chelsea and establish his present and limited future with Ethel helps to establish his background and how this plays into his own sense of identity.

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