The Quest for Self......Uh, what?

Finding out about myself through summer reading...surprisingly.

When I opened up Ms. Doise's website around the end of the school year, it took less than a minute for the grumbles, groans, and sighs to escape my mouth. I was greeted by tabs with pages of writing and reading, and it wasn't something I really felt like I was going to enjoy.

But as the summer, and my reading, progressed, I came to appreciate all her site had to offer. The theme of Ms. Doise's assignments was all about "The Quest for Self." Upon reading that, I had to wonder- What does that even mean? I know who I am, and how I came to be- at least I THOUGHT I did. It wasn't until I grew and learned through these few assignments that there is more to our makeup than just physical growth.

Now I have to admit, I did find Frankenstein a little hard to get through, and I cried like a baby at the ending of The Odd Life of Timothy Green, but these assignments brought more to me than just the acquisition of a few new vocabulary words, writing styles, and stories. They brought understanding, and some questioning, about the growth of my identity, and how I became who I am as I type these words.

Growth is more than just adding a few inches in height. We grow when we learn, read, write, and experience. I came across many areas of growth in each story I encountered.

Frankenstein was a book that surprisingly filled me with questions about growth, and technology's effect on it. It made me think a lot about the effect of technology on the leaders of our future and our society today. The readers were introduced to Victor's want of more knowledge by his readings and interest in science through his own want and curiosity. He was pushed by his parents, but had his own drive to know and discover more. Prior to his time at school, Victor read novels on alchemy, an old form of chemistry. His father discouraged against this, but he pursued the knowledge. Then he acquired modern scientific knowledge at his time in the university. This furthered his growth as a person, but turned destructive, as Victor used this to create his beast. "Such were the professor's words —rather let me say such the words of the fate —enounced to destroy me. As he went on I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy; one by one the various keys were touched which formed the mechanism of my being; chord after chord was sounded, and soon my mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose. So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein—more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation."  (3.15) That which he created through his knowledge and intellect, such a magnificent operation, ended up killing his sweet and innocent brother, and inflicted death on an innocent caregiver. Although Victor created a monster at no fault of his own, the power of nature to bring things full circle introduced the opportunity for Victor to introduce morality and caution back into his creation obsessed brain. He often sought out peace and  tranquility in nature, and it seemed to clear his head and revitalize him. Victor also used nature to give life to the beast of his creation. Victor's growth began as something to be looked on positively, but ended sourly when he threw all caution out the window and was overcome by the idea of the resurrection and discovery that accompanied his creation.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor and Oedipus Rex do a great job of demonstrating the quest for self in discovery of oneself in a way they may not have known of before. The further I read in How to Read..., the more I realized that there is a lot more that goes in to dissecting literature than finding out the lesson behind the writing and the symbols behind the details. It showed how stories grow and build upon other stories. The author also showed the derivatives of many stories, be it the Bible, Shakespeare, or even mythology. This demonstration on building upon lessons learned can also be reflected in my own life. As I learn and make mistakes, I can build upon what I've taken from them and use my knowledge for my own benefit in the future. That in itself is helping me to grow in character and maturity.

Oedipus Rex demonstrates learning and growing to accept facts about ourselves that we may not like. I know this is a MAJOR problem for me. I cannot seem to accept flaws in my character. Oedipus discovers a great horror and part of his past, and it troubles him. But through reading this, we are taught that sometimes rough patches and unfavorable qualities are just a part of life. There isn't much we can do about them besides accept them and grow from them. He doesn't exactly embrace that, and we are very able to see the willingness to overlook and ignore truth in this play. However, that is not something that is beneficial in life. Facing and embracing your fears and the bad parts of yourself will help you to enjoy your good qualities and use them to help you excel.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green was a movie that really embraced the quest for self. Timothy had to deal with the struggles of being different than all other kids his age. His legs grow leaves, for heavens sake! He also is a pretty goofy athlete. He comes to terms with these things and even overcomes his challenges by the end of the movie. Timothy inspires his parents that anything can change and be possible when his dad takes their pencil and pitches it to the boss at their factory.  

Overall, I really did benefit from this summer reading assignment. It truly helped me grow in my ability to accept myself and learn more about myself and my life as I progress. At first it seemed like a mound of useless reading, but as I progressed, I truly recognized how all the assignments met with the common theme of the quest for self. Each work had their own way in embracing personal qualities, and they helped me to be personally enlightened. I am looking forward to this year after discovering good meanings in literature and in myself.