Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Long Loneliness (26-36)

This section contains chapter headings entitled "Home" and "Adolesence."

One trouble that I had with the longer section is that the bulk of it contained a letter Day had written. Then, immediately after giving it, she says, "Written when I was fifteen, this letter was filled with pomp and vanity and piety" (34). Since I didn't experience the letter that way, I wanted her to explain what she meant, but she just sort of goes on to talk about other things. So, I was frustrated both that I wasn't sure what she meant and that she had apparently devoted two full pages to replicating a letter in full only to dismiss it as being unworthy of being remembered.

The most resonant passage in this section for me was in "Home":

"I remember even sad summer afternoons when there was nothing to do, and suddenly everything palled and life was dull and uninteresting. Our parents did nothing to offer us distraction and entertainment. We were forced to meet our moods and overcome them. There were times when my sister and I turned to housework from sheer boredom."

What's so resonant about it?
I've been thinking some in the last year about boredom. What is it? What causes it? Is it a spiritual and emotional condition? (There are hints in this passage that it is.) Is it environmentally prompted, temperamentally caused, or created by a variety of factors?

What is the relationship between economic class and boredom? I'm reminded of Jane Ausen's Emma as a literary example of the idea that boredom can be oppressively pressed upon anyone, regardless of class, by limiting the options of what they are allowed to do.

Then again, this passage reminds me that many of the things we do in response to boredom are merely diversions or distractions from it, and they may not address the underlying spiritual or emotional causes that are making life appear "dull and uninteresting." So, in some reverse way, is the lack of economic resources that forces Day, even at a young age, back on herself, a good thing? Solomon who was both rich and wise, takes a long time to get to the point where he admits that all things are wearisome.


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