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Joan Didion: on Going Home

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Codi
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Joan Didion: What is Home? In Joan Didion’s essay “On Going Home” she writes about leading a double life. She feels like one person when she’s with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles, and a completely different person when back “home” surrounded by her childhood family in the Central Valley of California. During this particular trip, she begins to reflect on her life in Los Angeles. Didion contemplates the fact that she often feels uneasy around her husband, just like he feels uneasy being around her family. At a crossroad, she must decide not only who she is, and the life she wants, but also the kind of life she wants for her daughter. Her life in Los Angeles has cleansed her from her youth—one that was dusty and full of useless trinkets. She ponders the time her husband wrote the word “D-U-S-T” on those useless trinkets and she remembers her feelings of sadness and indignation. She says, “We live in dusty houses…filled with mementos quite without value to him” (139-40). The dust-covered trinkets signify what is important to her, or what needs to be addressed in her marriage. Yet, these objects just lay there waiting for someone to see them—for someone to dust them off and care for them—not unlike how Didion wishes her husband would see her and nurture her in their marriage. Didion wonders which of her two homes is normal or if they are both flawed. When she and her husband are with her family, he becomes apprehensive about her behavior, “…because once there I fall into their ways, which are difficult, oblique, deliberately inarticulate…” (139). She begins to defend her past, the one she thought she wanted to forget. She feels uneasy when he comes to visit her family and dreads his call when he chooses to stay in Los Angeles. Her husband has no interest in hearing or participating in any of the conversations with her family, as they like to discuss...

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