Goodbye, Columbus

by Philip Roth

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What are key quotes about identity and love in Goodbye, Columbus?

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Here are some quotes from Goodbye, Columbus related to identity and love:

Brenda says to Neil, "I had my nose fixed." When Neil asks, "What was the matter with it?" Brenda replies, "It was bumpy" (13). Brenda has had a nose job so that her appearance is, in her own mind, less Jewish. She wants to assimilate into the mainstream American culture and not as distinctly Jewish.

I did not want to voice a word that would lift the cover and reveal that hideous emotion I always felt for her, the underside of love (27).

Neil is always insecure about his relationship with Brenda, and he doesn't quite love her but instead covets her. His love for her is tinged with fear that he will lose her.

I felt a weird fright again, had momentary thoughts of my own extinction, and that time when I came back I held her tighter than either of us expected (53).

When Neil and Brenda are playing a kind of game in the pool, he is afraid she will disappear. He doesn't trust that she will always be his girlfriend, and fear underlies his desire and love for her.

Since when do Jewish people live in Short Hills? They couldn't be real Jews believe me (58).

Neil's aunt, who lives in Newark, doubts that Jews could live in the ritzy town of Short Hills, New Jersey. To her, Jews live in their old neighborhoods around other Jewish people. Brenda's family represents the kinds of assimilationist Jews who have moved out of Newark to the affluent suburbs. Though Neil is also Jewish, he and Brenda have very different lives.

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There will be little guide as to what constitutes "importance" in terms of quotes.  I think that whatever is selected might be possess importance because of the analysis attached to it.  I would focus on the ending when Neil emerges from the shards of the broken relationship on the Jewish New Year.  Reading the text from here, ask how this can be representative of love and identity.  The notion of class dynamics and their impact on Neil is powerful.  For example, his perceptions at Ron's wedding, in terms of being able to see past class and envision himself as a member of the upper crest family might be another area where quotations about identity is evident.  The fleeting and transitory vision of love might be another theme where quotes can be taken regarding how Neil feels about the relationship and his impressions of love and identity.

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