Saturday, 19 March 2016

Reading books at the perfect time in your life and Sylvia Plath's fig metaphor

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and,  one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar 

One of the most beautiful metaphors on growing up, which is why this is such a wonderful novel, I couldn't recommend it more. This paragraphe meant nothing to me when I read it, but now I  finally understand what she meant. I also see the figs above me. I loved The bell jar,but I simply didn't relate or quite understand what Esther Greenwood/Sylvia Plath was going through. When I was a kid, I sneered at adults who said " Teenagers are trying to find their place in the world", but only now do I know how true this statement it . I didn't understand what being anyone meant. This is the same case with The catcher in the rye, I was amused by it, but it was only few months after reading it that I felt what Holden Caulfield felt, when he questioned that taxi driver on what happened to the ducks in the winter. This brings up a few questions,( Do we read books to young ? Do these books influence the way we feel as teenagers?)
I'm glad that I read these two books, and there is nothing wrong with not connecting to a book while you are reading it. But I certainly  want to revisite The Bell Jar. There are three books that came at the right time: I capture the castle by Dodie Smith, I was expecting it to be a sweet children's story but I was surprised by how dark and complex it actually was. This novel is the diary of a teenage girl, Cassandra living in a abandoned castle and struggling with poverty,  the reader is able to witness Cassandra growing up mentally and also see her writing develop. I have never believed more in a character then in Cassandra. The next novel is Zooey and Franny by J D Salinger. I prefer this novel to The catcher in the rye , I had a strong connection to Zooey and the last page is just beautiful. They are not very nice  siblings and are quite obnoxious,  but Salinger makes us care for both of them, forgive them and understand them. I will write another post on Salinger. Finally The Virgin Suicide by Jeffrey Eugenides, this novel is all I ask.The writing style, the themes and the metaphors are perfect. Eugenides doesn't overdo the metaphors either, and also have a purpose instead of being there for the sake of a beautiful image  . It walks a thin line between a news paper investigation and an allegory. I will also write a post about this novel for there is so much discuss.
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