Philip Roth

“This kindly unjudging judgment of the Swede could well have been a new development in Jerry, compassion a few hours old. That can happen when people die--the argument with them drops away and people so flawed while they were drawing breath that at times they were all but unbearable now assert themselves in the most appealing way, and what was least to your liking the day before yesterday becomes in the limousine behind the hearse a cause not only for sympathetic amusement but for admiration. In which estimate lies the greater reality--the uncharitable one permitted us before the funeral, forged, without any claptrap, in the skirmish of daily life, or the one that suffuses us with sadness at the family gathering afterward--this even an outsider can't judge. The sight of a coffin can effect a great change of heart--all at once you find you are not so disappointed in the person who is dead--but what the sight of a coffin does for a mind in its search for the truth, this I don't profess to know.”

Philip Roth, American Pastoral
tags: death
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American Pastoral (The American Trilogy, #1) American Pastoral by Philip Roth
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