Wednesday, October 1, 2008

We Varied Nomads

A Distant Shore sets up a comparison between the way two people travel. One, an immigrant, crossing and recrossing borders until he comes to live in an England he did not expect. Another, a long-time resident who does not recognize England after living there her entire life. The effects on each vary, but they both take journeys in an effort to find a place in the world. And, they both lose a sense of self, changing throughout the text while attempting to recover the past.

"If I do not share my story, then I have only this one year to my life. I am a one-year-old man who walks with heavy steps. I am a man burdened with hidden history."

Memory, story, voice, is literature an act of recovery? Does it provide the journey we all need to take to find/see purpose and gain a sense of self? Is this only an insight the nomad can realize, having crossed into different perspectives to gain her or his own?


Anonymous said...

When Dorothy first arrives in Stoneleigh, she sees Solomon washing his car and says "His every movement would appear to be an attempt to erase a past that he no longer wishes to be reminded of." I'm not so sure that Solomon really wishes to revisit the past that haunts him. Does he realize that it would be good to share his story with someone? Yes. Would it be a release of his burden? Yes. But deep down he has no desire to reminisce on those dreadful times.

Does literature act as an act of recovery? In some ways, yes, it does. It provides insight on the past and allows us to create a visual picture of "the days of old." But I don't believe literature provides the journey we all need to take in order to find ourselves. The problem is that literature can corrupt a man as easily as it can "create" a man. If man consistently indulges in the ideals of literature, I believe he can actually become hardened to the Truth.

However, I do believe literature allows us to see things from a different perspective. For those that never have the opportunity to be "nomadic" and travel to different parts of the world, literature is the next best thing.

Caitlin Van Wagoner said...

Good literature draws you out of yourself and immerses you in the world of another. It can uplift and inspire but the best literature reveals truth about both one's own reality and the reality which exists only in the confines of the work. Perspective adds meaning, no matter what perspective it is. As students of literature we must be students of perspective. How do the different lenses through which we view the world cause us to look at ourselves? Literature helps us to evaluate our own lenses and the way in which we chose them. I love literature because if, you let it, good writing can teach you about yourself.

lindsay said...

Memory does have tendencies to help provide a sense of self and allows a given identity. Gabriel’s memories of Africa help him have the feeling and images in which he is surer of himself, but with new identity in England he loses his self identity. Having memory does allow one to find a sense of self. When Gabriel changes his name to Solomon, Literature allows a shift in his self being

“No I’m from Africa.
Africa! Exclaims the man, as though it all makes sense now.
. . . Gabriel thinks for a moment and then remembers what Katherine told him. “Solomon he says Solomon”

; Gabriel’s memories no longer allow him to be as opinionated and self assuring, yet with only his new memories he is able to construct new self and memories which are provided through literature.

Pellerino87 said...

I think that the big thing involved with the story is the inverse role that Dorothy plays to Solomon. Dorothy spends most of the book nostalgic about the past. As the book goes on, she remembers more and more of the past and wishes more and more that she could go back to that time.

At the same time Solomon (Gabriel) continues to progress and tries to get away from his past. While in England, he dreams less about his family as time goes on. He tells himself that he needs to move on from his pass and progress as an Englishman, move into the future.

Dorothy and Solomon seem to really embrace these inverse roles, especially at the end of the book. Dorothy ends seeing her ex-husband in the "home" and Solomon has the life he has always dreamed of.

tay123 said...

Literature has ways of influcencing your life and your ideals in ways that readers do not even realize. When a person delves into a novel and finds similiarities with the characters they are reading about, they begin to discover meaning in their lives they did not know was there.
Soloman and Dorothy's story displays an interesting story that shows how important it is to tell about your life. Both characters have suffered untold sufferings that they each keep bottled up inside. Without relieving their histories onto someone else, they would not be able to have a future.
In a way, literature is used as a tool for authors to realease their own thoughts and ideas in the form of fiction to be heard. In this way, others can be affected by the work and be provoked to think and even be encouraged to write the story of their own history.

kyoung88 said...

Literature can be an act of recovery for many people, so that one eternally has a certain event or piece of history written down, available to be re-lived whenever it is read. However, I think literature can also serve as steps taken to gain a sense of closure to one chapter in the life: the person can write it down, "Okay, this happened... I've learned this and such... Now I'm moving on..." Literature can be different things for different people, so it MAY be the journey needed by one person, but a different person may need a completely different type of journey. I think the nomad has one of the best insights of crossing into different perspectives, but there are many ways to experience a change of perspective, such as adopting a religion or even something as minor as transitioning to college from high school. Changes such as these allow growth in an individual's life and influences the formation of his/her own perspective.

Jacob Lo said...

Literature does many things for readers. It can take you to places you have never been, show you the world and even a make-believe world all from where ever it is you decide to nestle down for a nice read.
However to say that literature acts as recovery, or that it helps someone find themselves is a farse.
When someone reads literature the image their mind portrays is different from that of the next person, and this is developed by what our mind can construct.
Our mind constructs scenes and images based on not only our past experiences but also our present state. Therefore with this in mind, we know that where literature takes us is directly relative to our own past experiences. Even, though literature is fantastical it is still limited to the scope of our mind, so because of this it is imposible to find yourself in literature because you are finding something formed from what you have already found.

bailarina said...

I think that sharing your story is important to the world's understanding of your actions, if not for your own understanding of yourself. You asked if the writer would need to be a nomad to get an outside perspective--I believe literature can be that outside perspective.

One does not need to physically see the outside world to understand what it holds. Obviously, personal experience would be helpful, but literature makes it unnecessary. Literature allows the reader to be a nomad from his or her own home.

hurrayforstuff said...

I think forms of literature may help to find an identity, but that is just one necessary aspect for that journey. Before writing, history was passed down through story. This was used as the travel they would need on their quest for identity, hearing the stories of their heritage. I think as travel has become more readily available, some services of literature regarding its use as travel to find idenity are less pronounced. people from small villages would hear stories or read books, and that is how they learned of other places and learned of their place in ther world. now travel channel shows us everything we could want to see, which i guess still serves the same person. but does that count as art of literature? i don't know. yes, literature can be used to recover.

bgasp123 said...

I do not think this ability exists only with nomads. I have realized more about myself with every novel read this semester. These books have forced me to place myself in anothers shoes and it was through this I have gained new perspectives and changed old ones.