Monday, August 13, 2007
Just like chick flicks, there are definitely chick books. And I just finished a really good one called The Awakening. This book is remarkable in that it was published in 1899, yet the themes explored are so advanced and were extremely taboo at the time. The novel was a failure because "the reading public was shocked by such a sympathetic view toward the actions and emotions of the sexually aware and independent female protagonist." The main character feels trapped, lonely, unsatisfied in her traditional role of wife and mother. She begins to rebel against her husband (and really the expectations of the entire community), and eventually has an affair. I'm not going to say I'm in favor of that, but the story was told well, and the slow, steady blossoming of independence was expertly woven. One line in the book stood out in particular. The husband of the protagonist, observing his wife's strange behavior, notes that she is "not herself." Then the next line says, "That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world." I read the line several times. How many of us wear a fictitious garment as we present ourselves to the world? This is why when someone commits some heinous crime like killing their children, the neighbors all say "They seemed like such a loving, normal family." And in less extreme circumstances, it's the trite answer "I'm great, and how are you?" when we greet one another. I think a goal of mine is to tap into the true details of my character, to embrace them, and to display them instead of trying to maintain whatever facade I feel is expected of me. Sometimes we applaud those that are able to do this, and other times we look down on those who are too bold, too different. I'm certainly not planning on abandoning my family to pursue a torrid affair. But I am not going to lose my identity by strictly labeling myself as only a wife and mother. I guess my hope is to just be genuine.