The reader must look for the meaning in Jake's life as Jake remembers it: through the women he loved, especially his Jewish mother, and the men who influenced him such as the enigmatic Rook. But, in his early 60s, Jake has Alzheimer's and his memories are not chronological and may be invented: so the reader must also decide how much of Jake's life has been spent in a wilderness. A difficult but intensely moving book.
Henry appears to know nothing about his disease - surely he would recoil if he did. The timid little child was always afraid of infection by others. He would whip his hands away now if he knew his father's mind was rotting, but because he does not there is a sense of victory, over the disease itself and its captious, jeering nature: something is only a fact, he tells himself, when a lot of people know it.