I must confess to having been more fascinated by this book than I anticipated. It wasn't the easiest book to read, and I often found the transitions between scenes somewhat abrupt and confusing, but the psychological insights he offered into the characters was worth the effort. Naturally, I speak only of my own experience here, and again,naturally, I hardly agreed with all of the author's psychological views, but I felt some of his insights were absolutely revelatory and served to spur further thought, such as this one, speaking of Dick Diver's method of child-rearing:
They lived on the even tenor found advisable in the experience of old families of the Western world, brought up rather than brought out. Dick thought, for example, that nothing was more conducive to the development of observation than compulsory silence.
Not having encountered any serious studies to either confirm or refute this premise, it nonetheless seems to resonate with me intuitively as true. It also may serve, in part, to explain why women, as a group, are better observers than men. Asked to describe a scene, men will almost invariably miss details that women have picked up on. This may be innate; it may be part and parcel of how our different bodies are influenced by hormones and chemistry, but it may be largely social as well: from their youth, it is generally the boys who are encouraged to take the lead and to play hard, while girls who behave in such a boisterous manner are reminded that such behavior is "not ladylike". We have all heard that boys will be boys, but girls should be more reserved. Such a forced inhibition, it seems to me, no matter how subtle, must surely encourage in some measure the compensatory development of the powers of observation, just as the encouragement to be more physical and outgoing in their play must dampen in some measure, however slight—or at least not give as great an encouragement to—the development of verbal skills in boys.