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Joan Didion's on Going Home- Analysis Essay Revised

In: English and Literature

Submitted By sojusister
Words 750
Pages 3
The Most Expensive Home The door thuds as you close it behind you on your way out to go to school, work, or wherever you are headed. You don’t have a second thought about what you’re leaving behind: your home. But have you ever thought about the significance of that word, “home”? In Joan Didion’s essay, “On Going Home”, Didion describes her experiences and thoughts on what defines her meaning of home. Didion uses many asyndetons and polysyndetons to emphasize her emotions and poses several rhetorical questions. Throughout the essay, it can be concluded that perhaps the generation that truly knows the meaning behind the word “home” is gradually disappearing. The contributing factors to such interpretation derived from Didion’s personal experiences with her direct family, her husband, and even her own daughter. Didion first sets her definition of home by clarifying that to her, home means “not where [her] husband and [she] and the baby live, but the place where [her] family is”. Her diction reflects the way she thinks about her home, with words such as “troublesome” that give off a negative connotation. Although she defines this place as her home, she expresses how she changes personalities and formalities in front of her parents and brother, which her husband is unfamiliar with. This transformation represents her familiarity with her family, whom she grew up with, or her childhood, and a vague description of what makes up her home. However, since she is not in her childhood anymore, this familiarity is somewhat uncomfortable to her and her husband, whom Didion is more accustomed to. She, therefore, calls her home a “burden” where her source of tension and drama come from. Didion’s relationship with her husband reflects what she left behind at “home”. When Didion visits her family with her husband, she returns to her ‘old self’ whom her husband sees as “difficult, oblique, deliberate, [and] deliberately inarticulate” merely because he is not used to it and is unfamiliar with it. The use of the asyndeton in this sentence articulates the negative traits of her personality that the presence of her family brings out. Her husband’s views on her family’s talks and mementos reflect the inevitable change that occurs when one leaves his or her home. Since she left her home and created a new one with her husband and daughter, she can not longer go back to the way things were, at least, not completely. When Didion mentions that her generation is the last to carry the burden of home, she refers to how she can no longer go back to the way things used to be, to her old home. It also refers to how teenagers these days yearn for the day when they are finally able to leave their homes. However, Didion implies how, once something is left behind, it cannot ever go back to how it was, but merely feel nostalgic of the past memories of it. The diction is used to create the title also supports the idea that her home is now a foreign place, merely a past memory. She does not use the word “coming” which has the connotation of returning back to where things are supposed to be, but rather the word “going” which has a sense of leaving something behind, in this case, her husband and daughter back in Los Angeles. When it is her daughter’s birthday, Didion wishes to “give her home”. Didion realizes that this is difficult due to difference in generation as well as from her personal experiences from her life. The metonymy represents all that the author valued and cherished in her childhood home. She wishes for her daughter to experience the same happiness and moments as she when she was a child, but knows that realistically, that home is a queer thing that is impossible to go back to completely once it is left behind. As the time passes, the time for the younger generations to leave their homes draw closer and closer. Many believe that they are merely leaving for a little while and coming back, which may be true. However, according to Didion, many things will have changed by then, but regardless, that same generation will still call it “home”, which shows how the true meaning behind the word “home” is steadily being forgotten. This realization will, hopefully, help future generations to come to regard the time spent with their families and friends at “home” as a priceless experience that cannot ever be replaced.

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