Rob is a morose person who needs this excuse to always complain. He’s a very pessimistic person, who can’t seem to find a positive outlook in anything. Rob is also a very self-conscious person who is not content with himself. He believes that he lacks in the areas he views as important in his life. He depends on his woman to keep him happy, and judges his life according to the woman he’s with. He simply can’t manage to be happy without one. His unhappiness drives him to be very critical and judgmental to the world around him. He makes a jerky remark to everything he notices. All and all Rob has a weak character which depends on other things rather than himself to be happy.
Rob seems to be a very pessimistic person. He sees everything in a negative fashion because he is not content with his life, and assumes it is impossible for things to improve. Once Rob returns home after seeing Marie sing with another man, he feels depressed and turns to his records for some sort of reassuring escape:
Is it so wrong, wanting to be home with your record collection? It’s not like collecting records is like collecting stamps, or beermats, or antique thimbles. There’s a whole world in here, a nicer, dirtier, more violent, more peaceful, more colorful, sleazier, more dangerous, more loving world than the world I live in; there is history, and geography, and poetry, and countless other things I should have studied at school, including music. (Hornby, 83)
Rob seems to feel as though his records are the only thing he can rely on. Everyone has some sort dependence on certain sentimental things, be it a pet, friend or family member. In Rob’s case, his music is the only constant that will never let him down. He sees a whole different world inside his music, one which doesn’t value the real world’s standards or values. It brings him somewhere else for a bit, somewhere which doesn’t remind him of the depressing things in his life. It seems to me that with those discouraging thoughts it drives him to be very pessimistic. Without even talking to Marie he assumed right off the bat that she was going to hook up with the man she was singing with. He didn’t even try to show he cared in the least. His pessimism led him to give up on Marie very quickly, without even looking at the possible positive side. These actions show he has a very pessimistic outlook on life which is driven by his low self-esteem.
Rob also seems unsatisfied with himself. Too inadequate to be happy in a world where he feels he doesn’t belong.
I’m here , in this stupid little flat, on my own, and I’m thirty-five years old, and I own a tiny failing business, and my friends don’t seem to be friends at all but people whose phone numbers I haven’t lost. And if I went back to sleep and slept for forty years and woke up without any teeth to the sound of Melody Radio in an old people’s home, I wouldn’t worry that much, because the worst of life, i.e., the rest of it, would be over. And I wouldn’t even have had to kill myself. (74)
Rob looks at every aspect of his life and feels so insufficient that he doesn’t even see the reason for living. He feels like he has no substance in his life. From having no true friends, to a failing job. All the characteristics that he values to be a person worth living, have failed him. I think his mother plays an important role in Rob’s low self -esteem as she even degrades him and offers him no support. She doesn’t even comfort him after the break-up with Laura, yet just criticizes and tells him that she “would have left [him] to get on with it years ago.” (48)
She demeans his job, and adds to his low self-confidence. Parents are supposed to be supportive in times of unhappiness. Parents are the people who are supposed to love unconditionally, but in Rob’s case it seems that they only regard the negative aspects of his life which definitely cannot improve his situation. He feels so inadequate because he has no one to turn to or depend on. He wants to “run [himself] down, feel sorry for [himself], celebrate [his] inadequacies”. (72)
Rob depends on a woman to keep him happy. He believes his woman defines him as a person, and each time he is without one he is miserable.
Sometimes it seems as though the only way a man can judge his own niceness, his own decency, is by looking at his relationships with women- or rather, with prospective or current sexual partners. (68)
He judges himself according to the woman he’s affiliated with. He doesn’t see himself as a full person without a woman. He believes that “women are going to save [him], lead [him] through to a better life, that they can change and redeem [him].” (63) Rob is basically willing to be whatever his woman wants of him. Even his relationship with Sarah Kendrew was one of convenience because he had no one else, and wanted to feel equal to his companion. Charlie had made him feel inadequate and less of a person than her, so his relationship with Sarah was one where he had someone to lean on through his time of getting over her. Sarah made it easier for him because she was going through the same situation. They were just staying together to have someone to lean on, and not be alone.
He was her moment just as Charlie was mine, and when they split, Sarah had sworn off men for a while, just as I had sworn off women. It made sense to swear off together, to pool our loathing of the opposite sex and get to share a bed with someone at the same time. Our friends were all paired off, our careers seemed to have hardened into permanence, we were frightened of being left alone for the rest of our lives. (29)
Rob just couldn’t handle being alone. It was easy for him to make the relationship with Sarah work because she felt the same, and had the same problems he did. His weak character leads him to depend on woman to keep him happy and satisfied.
Rob was also a very judgmental and critical person. His views on music could not be challenged, as he also evaluated woman according to their musical interests and favorite movies. His views were a little harsh sometimes, and he believed he was quite educated in certain areas, which therefore lead to his many judgments.
I’d say there were millions like me, but there aren’t, really: lots of blokes have impeccable music taste but don’t read, lots of blokes read but are really fat, lots of blokes are sympathetic to feminism but have stupid beards, lots of blokes have a Woody Allen sense of humor but look like Woody Allen. Lots of blokes drink too much, lots of blokes behave stupidly when they drive cars, lots of blokes get into fights, or show off about money, or take drugs. I don’t do any of these things really; if I do OK with women, it’s not because of the virtues I have, but because of the shadows I don’t have. (28)
Rob makes a comment on every possible singer, songwriter, actress/actor he can. His critical attitude makes him look like a jerk. He acts above the people he criticizes to make him feel better about himself. He has a judgment on everything. Besides being critical to himself, he’s critical to the world around him because he is miserable. He sees the negative in everything which makes him as opinionated as he is. His frustration makes him angry at everything and everyone around him.
All and all, Rob’s depressive, dependent, self-conscious and critical attitudes demonstrate that he has a weak character. His pessimism leads to his depression, as his low self-esteem leads to his criticisms. He has a very miserable life because he doesn’t even live up to his own standards. He depends on a woman to make him happy, which is completely unrealistic. Rob will never manage to be happy because he always manages to criticize and demean everything that’s going on around him.