On Going Home by Joan Didion Essay Sample

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Home is a place where most experience ultimate comfort, security, and emotional ties. As reading Joan Didion’s “On Going Home” you can feel the tone and passion she has towards home, especially proven when she states, “Days pass. I see no one. I come to dread my husband’s evening call, not only because he is full of news of what by now seems to me our remote life in Los Angeles, people he has seen, letters which require attention, but because he ask what I have been doing, suggests uneasily that I get out and drive away, instead I drive across the river to a family graveyard.”(141) She’s completely content on being satisfied by home with its simple ways and family surroundings. That’s why going home to Joan is the ultimate comfort, security, and emotional relief; because she’s with family.

Family will always judge and be protecting, especially towards female relatives. When Joan states, “Marriage is the classic betrayal,” (140) and that her brother only knows her husband as “Joan’s husband” it is the perfect example of showing unacceptance from betrayal of Joan marrying and switching names to adopt another family whom she would’ve never met for it weren’t for her husband. It makes Joan’s family seem jealous almost, that she’s found significant others to share the same passion of being “family” with and the betrayal feeling arises because that’s how close Joan and her family are. They accept her husband, but the he doesn’t feel too comfortable in the family household, according to Joan. She states that ,”My husband likes my family but is uneasy in their house, because once there I fall into their ways, which are difficult, oblique, deliberately inarticulate, not my husband’s ways” (139).

This statement arises thoughts about the husband, and that he has done something in the past that makes the family weary to accepting and being comfortable with Joan being with him. It also states that Joan may be a different person through life events but still wants to be associated with her old ways. Joan also states that her and her mother get along very well, and she compares their lives as, “veterans of a guerrilla war we never understood” and that they relate so well because they just fell into life and became married, to have a child whom they take care of, then moving to a home where the process of life can start and restart with Joan’s child doing the same. Tradition and values seem extremely important to Joan, especially when she begins talking about her child and how, “ She is an open and trusting child, unprepared for and unaccustomed to the ambushes of family life, and perhaps it is just as well that I can offer her little of that life.”

She continues to state, “ I would like to promise her that she will grow up with a sense of her cousins and of rivers and of her great-grandmother’s teacups, would like to pledge her a picnic on a river with fried chicken and her hair uncombed, would like to give her home for her birthday.” (141-142) it’s almost as if Joan wants to be “veterans of a guerilla war” with her daughter also. A time will go on Joan will keep her traditions and family values in her child’s life but will have to accept that the husbands family will also have an effect on the child’s mentality of family and home. It doesn’t get any more obvious than that. Joan sticks to tradition, family, and values. All she wants is home to engulf her enough to where she feels like she did as child growing up. She even admits that she was, “almost thirty years old before I could talk to my family on the telephone without crying after I had hung up.” That’s extreme home sickness and her only cure was a dose of family and the love she felt from being home or thinking of it also. There’s no place like home.

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