The Sense of an Ending

by

Julian Barnes

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Old Joe Hunt Character Analysis

The history teacher at Tony’s school, Old Joe Hunt wears a three-piece suit and maintains a slightly wry, distanced air with his students. Although Tony describes his classes as somewhat, though not excessively, boring, the conversations held during history class—about causality and historical responsibility, as well as about the very possibility of defining history—linger in his mind for the rest of his life.

Old Joe Hunt Quotes in The Sense of an Ending

The The Sense of an Ending quotes below are all either spoken by Old Joe Hunt or refer to Old Joe Hunt . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Manipulation, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Sense of an Ending published in 2012.
One Quotes

History isn’t the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It’s more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious nor defeated.

Related Characters: Anthony (Tony) Webster (speaker), Old Joe Hunt
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:
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Old Joe Hunt Character Timeline in The Sense of an Ending

The timeline below shows where the character Old Joe Hunt appears in The Sense of an Ending. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
One
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
...friends. Tony recalls his presence in the first day’s history class taught by Old Joe Hunt, who always looked cordial and formal in a three-piece suit. (full context)
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
Old Joe Hunt asked if anyone could characterize the age of Henry the Eighth: Tony, Colin, and Alex... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
Tony returns to another memory: Old Joe Hunt asked the class to debate the origins of the First World War. Most preferred an... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Responsibility, Agency, and Guilt Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
Old Joe Hunt asked Adrian what he thought. He said that assigning responsibility was always a cop-out: by... (full context)
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Philosophy vs. Reality Theme Icon
Tony remembers the year’s final history lesson: Old Joe Hunt invited the students to draw some conclusions over the centuries they’d covered. “What is History?”... (full context)
Memory, Manipulation, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Sex, Class, and Power Theme Icon
Hunt, after a while, replied that Adrian might underestimate historians, who have always had to deal... (full context)
Memory, Manipulation, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
History, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Responsibility, Agency, and Guilt Theme Icon
Sex, Class, and Power Theme Icon
...Veronica’s father or her brother Jack, some “primal” moment of loss. He remembers Old Joe Hunt saying that mental states can be inferred from actions, and thinks that in private life,... (full context)
Two
Memory, Manipulation, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Responsibility, Agency, and Guilt Theme Icon
Sex, Class, and Power Theme Icon
...maintain his own version of his relationship with Veronica. He thinks back to Old Joe Hunt’s addition to his own definition of history: the “self-delusions of the defeated.” (full context)