Running head: LITERATURE IN MY LIFE 1 Literature in my Life Krista Mader Indiana University of Pennsylvania Literature in my Life 2 Abstract Literature has always been a big part of my life. It is all around me, in so many different ways. The literature in this class really affected me, and made me think about my own life. I really connected with some of it on a deeper level than others though. Simba from The Lion King began his identity quest after losing his father, and believing that he was responsible for that. Celie from The Color Purple had very low self-esteem and bad experiences with everyone around her for most of her life. Tita in Like Water for Chocolate loved someone so deeply, and was kept from her love. In this paper I will explore how these works of literature, and other works, have affected me and are reflected in my life. Literature in my Life 3 Literature has always been a big part of my life. Ever since I can remember, my favorite thing to do was lose myself in a good book. It was my way of escaping reality, and with it all my problems. I have also always found it fascinating how there are so many different kinds of literature. Books, movies, oral histories, tattoos, pictures, paintings, even on stamp bags of heroin…the list could go on and on. Literature is all around us; it is how the stories of not only our lives, but also our world histories and myths are passed down. Without literature, the world would be at a loss. All of the literature that was covered in this class was very interesting to me. However, I felt I connected much more with some of it over the rest. While a delightful book, I did not really connect strongly with Watership Down or The Odyssey. The books that drug up deep emotions for me were Siddhartha, The Color Purple, and Middlesex. The characters stories in these books were inspirational to me, and really made me do a lot of thinking about my own life. Another thing we covered in this class that I liked was the archetypes. After learning that Carl Jung came up with the archetypes and how they play out in people’s lives, I was hooked. I was excited to see how the archetypes could be used not only in literature, but also in psychology, because that is my major at IUP. The archetype test was my new favorite thing for a few weeks, and I made all of my friends take it. Whenever I took the archetype test, on both we took, I got the destroyer. After reading the section on the destroyer in Awakening the Heroes Within, it was clear that this archetype was perfect for me. It also has not changed since the beginning of the semester, as I had hoped it would. The destroyers fear is annihilation, or death without rebirth (Pearson, 1991, p.136). It Literature in my Life 4 amazed me that this was the fear of the destroyer, because I think that this could truly be my worst fear also. Being brought up Catholic, I was taught to fear rejection from Heaven, and that life is only a path to Heaven. In the Catholic faith, Heaven is the afterlife, the ultimate rebirth. So yes, fear of rebirth, the fear of the destroyer archetype, is my worst fear also. Something else that really connected me to the destroyer archetype was the task, which is to “learn to let go, turn it around, and accept mortality” (Pearson, 1991, p. 136). These are things that I have struggled with for a long time. Whenever something goes wrong for me, I have a tendency to dwell on it to the point that it consumes me. Throughout the years I have been trying to teach myself to accept the things I cannot change. The destroyer archetype’s task echoes my own personal motto: No Regrets, Know Peace. “It is bad enough to know you are going to die. But to know that and to feel your life has no meaning is difficult to bear” (Pearson, 1991, p. 137). This is something else that I have often struggled with. Since becoming addicted, I have been trying to prove that my life is not worthless simply because I am an addict. I want do something with my life; I want my life to mean something. I guess this is where my task is to turn it around. My addiction is a curse, but it is also a gift, because I feel in the long run, it will help me learn more about myself. In the literature that we covered, the destroyer archetypes that stood out the most to me were Scar (The Lion King), Darth Vadar (Star Wars), Mister (The Color Purple), General Woundwort (Watership Down) and Cal (Middlesex). However, I also felt that all but one of these characters were the shadow side of the archetype. It was Cal from Middlesex. Cal was not evil; he was not self-destructive or destructive to others. Middlesex was the piece of literature that I connected the most strongly with. When Cal finally realized that he was not really a she, he decided to go with it. He decided to turn this Literature in my Life 5 horrible thing (in his parent’s eyes, that is) around, and make it his own. He finally realized who he truly was supposed to be. He accepted this call to adventure. Apart from his struggle with being transgender, I really understood the feelings Cal dealt with as fourteen year old Callie. As a girl, Callie was attracted to other girls, and never thought anything of it. She really did not know her feelings were wrong, she was just confused, and did not think anyone would understand or accept how she felt. Cal never felt like one of the girls…with good reason! The difficult emotions Cal faces in this book really reminded me of my own feeling about sexuality at that age. I was attracted to girls, and I was attracted to boys. This just did not seem like it was normal, possible or allowed! I spent a lot of time trying to hide these feelings, but as I got older, I grew into my sexuality. Met people who were able to make me understand I was not alone in having these queer sexual feelings. Middlesex was the ultimate story about finding oneself, in my opinion. Cal did not understand what or who he was, and so he set out to find out. He cut off his hair and bought men’s clothes, to make himself look and feel more masculine. This was when Cal crossed the first threshold on his journey. This reminded me of Boys Don’t Cry, because Brandon and Cal’s journey started out similar. They liked women, were born women, but did not feel themselves to be women at all. Their first step towards masculinity was to cut their hair short, and start wearing men’s clothing. This was when both crossed the first threshold on their journey. Boys Don’t Cry was another one of the pieces of literature that I connected with strongly. Brandon just wanted to be himself (as did Cal!). He just wanted to be accepted, and to find love. And Brandon did find love. Even after finding out his secret, Lana accepted him for who he truly was, and still loved him. This struck a deep chord in my heart. I felt like Brandon and Lana had Literature in my Life 6 the kind of love that everyone, at least once, wants to, and should, experience. Lana accepted and understood Brandon, and loved him no matter what he was (or was not). However, quite unfortunately, their love story did not end well. While a sad ending, I felt like theirs was a different kind of love story, one that shows love knows no bounds. Boys Don’t Cry really pulled on my heart strings. Brandon and Lana had an intense love, full of acceptance and understanding for who each other truly was. I felt like this was the kind of love that I have always been searching for. But then again, I feel like this is the kind of love I have always ended up having. No one understood their love, or wanted it to continue. That was how the relationship with my first ever girlfriend was. It was intense, we accepted each other completely. But our families and friends did not understand or accept. While my relationship did not end in murder, Brandon and Lana’s love story really reminded me of my own past relationship and experience. In Like Water for Chocolate, the love that Tita had for Pedro reminded me of Brandon and Lana’s forbidden love. No one accepted it or wanted it to be. The people around them (especially Tita’s mother) tried like hell to make sure they did not get to be happy and together. Brandon got killed for his love for Lana; Tita had to live in misery, watching her true love make a life with her own sister. Both of these stories really affected me, made me think about my own relationship, and wonder if it was real enough I would do anything for him… Tita and Pedro’s love was everlasting, to a point. They never stopped loving each other, through all those years. They were separated and each found someone new to love. Even through all that, over all those years, they still found their way back to each other. Their love for each other really stood the test of time, and the love they had for each other eventually caused their deaths. In my own opinion, love like that does not truly exist. Love fades with time, and absence Literature in my Life 7 does not make the heart grow fonder. However this story really touched me, and I really connected with the story and the characters. At the beginning of the semester when we watched The Lion King, I did not expect it to affect me the way it did. It had been my absolute favorite movie whenever I was younger, and I expected this viewing to be just like any other time I had watched it. But it was not. Whenever Mufasa died, I found myself crying. I really felt bad for Simba, because he then became the orphan archetype. Prior to Mufasa’s death, I felt Simba had been the innocent archetype. After Mufasa’s death, Simba set forth on his road of trials, he set out to leave his past behind him, and find himself while doing it. This was also something I could relate to, because it is exactly what I did when I left for college. I wanted to forget my past life, and start a new, better one. Simba’s identity quest started with the death of his father, which he felt to be his fault. Feeling this way about his father has always been something I could identify with, because my father left shortly after I was born, and I have always felt like it was my fault. Through I know it is not my fault my father left, I still sometimes find myself feeling like something is missing, and that it is somehow my fault. The Color Purple is a novel I have read many times over the years since I first read it at twelve years old. It was also the first book I ever came across that addressed queer issues. While we cannot definitely say whether Celie was a lesbian (because she was only attracted to Shug), I have always felt that Celie and Shug’s relationship opened my eyes about my own sexuality. I had been attracted to girls, but prior to reading The color Purple, I had not known it was possible to have a relationship with another woman. After having my first relationship with a woman, I connected even more deeply with Celie and Shug’s love story. Like with the both of them, Literature in my Life 8 people around me did not understand or accept how I felt towards other women, and expected me to want to be with a man, and only a man. I connected with Celie so strongly, because I understand her feelings of low self-esteem. Like Celie, I had bad experiences with men at a young age that basically tainted me, like Celie, towards them all. I also connected with how she was always being compared with Nettie. Nettie was seen to be smarter, prettier, and a better catch than Celie was. Mister basically settled for Celie, when he would have rather had Nettie or Shug. Throughout my whole life I have felt that I was constantly being judged by men and compared to other women, and I have never came out on top in these comparisons. Celie feels ugly and stupid through most of the novel, because that is how the people around her and her experiences with them have made her feel. This is something I can, and do, connect with and understand. The last piece of literature that I would like to discuss is Siddhartha. Like The Color Purple, Siddhartha is a book I have read many times over the years. This book has always been a source of inspiration for me, and has always made me want to change my life. This novel makes me want to just drop everything, and go on my own journey towards enlightenment. It also makes me realize my ties to the real and modern world, and how much I hate these ties that I possess. Reading Siddhartha makes me want to be free, free to find myself and my own inner peace. It is my hope that one day I will find enlightenment and inner peace, just as Siddhartha did. I want to master my mind and inner being, just as Siddhartha did. My only problem in doing this, is figuring out the first step, and actually taking it. All the literature that was covered in this class has affected me. As I said before, I connected with some of it more than others. I found myself crying during a movie I have loved since childhood, and understanding the movie more deeply than ever. I found myself recalling Literature in my Life 9 my own experiences and memories as I went over a lot of this literature. I made many deep connections, not only with other literature, but also with my own life. Literature has always been part of my life, and will always be part of my life. Literature will continue to help me learn more about myself, my thoughts and my experiences. Thanks to this class, I have learned to make these connections at a deeper level. Through the literature covered in this class, I have learned to not only make deeper connections, but I also have learned to look at literature more critically. This class, and the literature we covered, has changed my life, and is something that will stick with me no matter what I do, where I go, and how I change. Literature in my Life 10 References Pearson, Carol S. (1991). Awakening the Heroes Within; Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.