Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Snail Shells

Gabby Smith
EN 385: Postcolonial Homelands
Eat, Pray, Love Homelands analysis
In the second half of Eat, Pray, Love Felipe says to Liz at one point, “But you aren’t a lost little girl.  You’re a woman with a career, with ambition.  You are a perfect snail: you carry your home on your back.  You should hold onto that freedom for as long as possible” (312 Gilbert).  For some reason, this image of a snail carrying their home on their back really stuck in my mind when it came to thinking about being at home.  The shell is quite literally the home of a snail, but I found the image much more metaphorical as being a spiritual or nonphysical sense of home that we always carry with us.  We carry our home within ourselves every day.  We carry personality traits and certain tendencies that we have learned from our family environment that has shaped our personality today.  For example, if your parents are more extroverted, the child is more likely to be extroverted after being raised in a loud household.  Or, perhaps the child is the total opposite after they have seen how loud their mother is and they are much more introverted.  Either way, the environment and past experiences shape our character, personality, and world view, for better or worse. 
            The kids at Acts 4 Youth rarely talk about their home lives, but how they act in the classroom environment that I see them in is quite an experience.  They are so funny and energetic and crazy, but kindhearted all at the same time!  I am in the seventh grade class with six boys who seem to be all great friends.  I have no idea whether they hang out outside of school or even in school, but they are always cracking jokes on each other and getting people in trouble (not out of meanness but as a joke).  Anyway, they are so vivacious with a bit of attitudes, but respectful of me and of each other.  Today was the first day back after not seeing the boys in many weeks and it was as if we had never missed a week.  The point being is that with these boys are truly at home with each other.  Feeling “at home” with friends and other people means that you contribute to their life in some way just as they give you their friendship in return.  In the classroom, there is an incredible amount of comfortableness and no judgment which makes the boys able to act crazy (and sometimes a little too rambunctious) without concern of what the other boys are thinking.  Comfort and the reciprocity of friendship is what I find in these relationships between these boys that are trademarks of sharing our pieces of home with other people.    
In my snail shell, my past, my family, and my friends definitely all shape my feeling of home, but ultimately the last part of my shell is being at home with myself.  Accepting oneself, in your own body and your own personality whether that is introverted or extroverted is something comforting and admirable at least to me.  Felipe says to Liz that she is at home with herself because she is carrying her ambition and goals with her in all of her trips.  In this way, we are not merely products of our family or immediate environments; we are manifestations of our past, but in addition to creators of our own present and future.  This confidence in our abilities, our appearance, our spirit, is ultimately what makes a person feel at home with themselves in which we can carry our home not necessarily on our back like a shell, but in our hearts (as sappy as that sounds).  This is the main difference seen in Liz from the beginning of the novel where she kind of is “a lost little girl” who is stuck and not at home with herself, her husband, or her life in general.  Many would consider Liz’s journey as one where she “finds herself” or however the expression goes.  I would argue that while the novel ends happily and she does “find herself” in some respects, recognizing, accepting, and liking parts of ourselves is a total lifelong learning process that cannot be given to us by other people.  I really do not think there is any epiphany, at least that I have experienced, where we are “lost little girls” at one time and then we experience one event and we suddenly “find ourselves.”  New situations constantly reveal new aspects of our personality or character that will never be captured in one event, but that is slowly discovered over a lifetime.  However, I have found that in the accumulation of these new aspects, we gain confidence and a sense of home that can slowly be added to my ever-growing shell. 

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