Perspectives of Home
What is a home? What makes our home a home? Who decides what a home is supposed to be? Whose idea of home is the best? There is no perfect answer to these imperfect questions because each agent has his or her own concept of home which is unique in their own image and describes what it is for themselves. Indeed, the main character of Egger’s latest novel Heroes of the Frontier, or myself or Lapham, we all have a definition of home that is unique to ourselves. This uniqueness overall affects the way we interpret everyday things, what we associate with, and what we commit ourselves to do on a regular basis without hesitating. How is it that this thought which seems so trivial when thinking about it can have this everlasting impact which defines us?
Josie’s original thought of home was not clear and concrete. Josie’s idea of home was leaving everything behind in her life in Ohio to travel to Alaska to get away from all her problems to start anew. Ironically, Josie is throwing away a suitable home in the process of doing this. However, there is a valid reason behind Josie’s decision to leave Ohio suddenly. “Leaving was made inevitable by the woman who had sued her for apparently causing her cancer … most of all there was the young man, a patient since he was a child, who was now dead, because he’d said he was enlisting to build hospitals and schools in Afghanistan” (Eggers 27). In addition, there are also other possibilities of what Josie identifies as her home. According to AB, one of these additional ideas is, “the tranquility of a farm without any worries, drama and work constraints is Josie’s idea of a perfect home” (“Nature of Home”). This idea is like my own but the focus is on preserving peace and ignoring restraints on an everyday basis instead of plainly forgetting everything and start anew. Shannon’s idea of what home means to Josie is, “an emotional state rather than a physical place” (The Nature of Home”). What this theory depicts is that for Josie her home has to have happiness rather than in despair and sorrow, which seem to have been a common trait in her life in Ohio, for it to be a perfect home. Before I mentioned what a home is for Josie, I said that it was not a simple or easy task to do because it did not have a clear purpose. So, keeping this open-mindedness in mind and looking at the three perspectives and where they appear within the text, I think that it makes sense that Josie’s home must have multiple purposes to meet her standards.
In order to satisfy her needs, Josie resolves her conflict by embarking on this journey constantly on the move to travel to Alaska. She plans to travel in an antique R.V. with the intent to find her new home instead of relocating to a permanent location. The reason behind her choice was a simple one which is mentioned in one of the many flashback of Josie’s past.
“She knew no one who stayed anywhere. Even in Panama, most of the locals she met would just as soon live somewhere else, and most of them asked her casually or directly about getting visas to come to the U.S. … We change! We change! And virtue is not only for the changeless. You can change your mind, or your setting, and still possess integrity. You can move away without becoming a quitter, a ghost” (Eggers 154).
So, Josie’s rationale for this constant move throughout Alaska was primarily based on two things. The first is that she associates herself with people who did not stay in one place their entire life and this motivated her to go on this journey to find a home. The other reason is that Josie surrounds herself with this notion of perpetual moving and as a result she more prone to align herself with anything to continue her journey and abstain from anything that will ultimately deter her. This is shown through Josie when she commits herself and her actions in relation to her beliefs of home and even defended her reason to do so by stating that you do not lose everything you had before you leave. This rationale continues to motivate her to keep on going on this journey and prevent her from giving up on this decision.
One of the factors that made Alaska the place for Josie to embark on this journey was to meet up with Sam, her purported stepsister, who lived in Homer, Alaska. On a side note, Sam is not actually related to Josie biologically or through their parents’ marriage but met from adoption by Josie’s foster parents. Eventually, this encounter with Sam begins to alert Josie to understand how impactful her decision was. This realization begins to destroy her image of home. When Josie and her family arrived, there was a sense of the differences of being in a mobile environment as opposed to a permanent house. An example of this was between Paul and Ana, Josie’s kids, and Zoe and Becca, Sam’s kids. When seeing the twins, Josie notices their “eyes dark and bright and intense and laughing.” (Eggers 119) This image has an overall emphasis on the joy present in the twins’ eyes which grabs Josie’s attention. In short, she has never seen this in Paul or Ana except in moments were Paul takes care of her. This difference allows one to infer that a home with stability is better at enforcing joy instead of a mobile home which seems to cause one to become burdened with being responsible instead of having fun and happiness which is one goal of Josie’s home. In addition to Josie’s reality check in respect to acknowledging that this quest for home is not as great as she expected it to be and it has actually disappointment her immensely. She sees what has happen so far and she concludes that, “The Chateau seems utterly irresponsible and cheapened their humanity” (Eggers 142-143). The sudden realization shatters her whole idea of home for Josie and causes her to contemplate over what she done to her kids by bringing them her and whether deciding to travel in the Chateau was an excellent choice for a home. Her conclusion to these events were, “Maybe they could live here. Maybe there was destiny and symmetry in her coming here to live with Sam, her fellow feral. But who could live here? It’s beautiful now, yes, but the winters were surely a holy fucking horror. … She would leave Homer tomorrow.” (Eggers 151) Instead of stopping and possibly living near Sam, Josie has refuted all the things she noticed to keep her original idea of home sacred and valid regardless of the repercussions and begins to prepare to leave once more to escape from the confusion created by arriving at Sam’s. Josie Ultimately left to feel at ease with no stress and focus on retaining the happiness she felt when she started this excursion by continuing it.
At this point, Josie feels confused from the visit with Sam, the lack of what she anticipated this trip was going to be, and the fact that she has not found a true home yet besides the Chateau. She begins to reflect on all the problems that have occurred ever since coming to Alaska. For starters, there is a complete lack of safety for not only Josie, but more importantly for her children Paul and Ana. An example of this is fact that Josie is, “afraid to go to sleep for fear that at any moment someone will get past the toy lock on the RV door and murder you and your two small children sleeping above” (Eggers 1) For any parent, the most important rule that should be followed at all times is to ensure the safety and well-being of children. So, when there is a weak or no security available, that is a major problem especially for Josie who is constantly moving through unfamiliar locations and has to constantly watch her two kids. This concern casts doubt on her idea of home by creating more panic or anxiety on when something will occur and end up ruin the happiness and peace she has yearned for by coming to Alaska.
Through all the confusion, Josie reaches her true home during a final encounter with reality and comes to a decision. There was a terrible storm that nearly destroyed Josie and her kids but as they managed to survive nature’s onslaught, “Josie looked at the bright flaming faces of her children and knew this was exactly who and where they were supposed to be” (Eggers 384) In this moment, Josie has come to a new realization of her home which was before a set of requirements of starting anew, ensuring peace without having to focus on constraints or worrying or drama, and at the very most promote happiness from all of this. However, after the storm it seems that for Josie, what her home truly is with her children at any time wherever it may be rather than being on the move. Perhaps this is David Eggers true message emerging at last by revealing what a home is supposed to be like and revolve around, the family and having fun on adventures along the way. In addition, AB mentioned that, “But then there is tomorrow” which can be inferred that Josie isn’t done yet, she’ll keep moving and never stop. This is an excellent point since now she knows what her home is she can now focus on spending time with them more now than before. (“Aaaand…..ACTION!”)
When I think about what home is to me, it is different from what Josie or Egger define home as. To me, it is a memorable object that holds a significant meaning to myself that I look at and reminds me where I have come from and what I have achieved and motivate me to keep on pursuing my goals. So, the object that I picked from the many to represent or remind me of my home is my 2009 Ford Escape. Why I chose this entity which may seem trivial to some or understandable to others is because of what it means to me. For starters, as long as I can remember, I have always seen a car every day or have been in a car everyday going from my house to either school, my friends, baseball games. So, it would make sense at the very least to me that my home is represented by the actual house and the transport that takes me to and from my home because of its overall reliance.
Besides stating my overall reliance from cars in my life, the true meaning it has, that also symbolizes what home is to me, originates from roughly around one year ago. So, this was when I was going to take my road test and I was not particularly great at driving which is understandable given that I was new at it and very nervous. My first attempt did not go as well as I thought and at the end the instructor told me what I needed to improve on and it devastated me. I practiced and practiced for the next test and I passed feeling more confident than before and I felt extremely proud for not giving up or postponing any other attempt for a while. What this value I mentioned about seeing in my car was myself not giving up when I could have easily and instead, strive to comeback stronger and never to backdown from something I think I cannot do because I did what I thought I could have done and succeeded. Overall, what this story has taught me was that there is no such thing as it cannot be done and instead there is an answer to everything it just depends on how willing I go to solve it and commit myself towards completing
Lastly, Lewis H. Lapham gives his opinion about what a home is by defining it in three main aspects. The three important values are in respect to American society, services for survival, and everyday purpose as a shelter. These values are important because they establish the common ground of what a home is and the importance they have for everyone as well as how they reflect each different culture. “Home in the American scheme of things is a word furnished with as many meanings and locations as money and mother, God and the flag. A place always somewhere in mind if not on a map or lost to a bank.” (Lapham) In this case, this vision of an American home seems to be a fantasy meaning that it is a dream that is too good to be real. Also, there is the culture that surrounds the home which is a mixture of wealth, religion, the symbolic flag, and the importance of mothers and what to do to appreciate them.
The second value was to provide services to promote survival on a daily basis. “Home during most of mankind’s sojourn on earth was the worth of the thing on the ground—warmth in the cold, light in the dark, defense against bandits and wolves, shelter from the wind and the rain.” (Lapham) The idea of home was not a complex one, it was to at the very least guarantee comfort and associate with the improving technology surrounding the time. In this case, it was the installation of lighting, heaters, or fireplaces, and provide protection from outside threats such as burglaries, wild life, and weather.
The final reason was that a home provides shelter to everyone who lives in a house and to be living together as a community. “Whether as castle or tenement, mud or thatched hut, the value of the structure was its use, not the profit gained from its sale on a market. The space was apt to be crowded, the style of living communal.” (Lapham) The purpose of building a home was to provide shelter for others for necessity to live in instead of trying to create a salary for building a house. Also, it was usual for these homes to be filled to the brim with people whether family or not to at least allow them to have a roof to sleep under.
In conclusion, when it comes to home there are many different perspectives that comes to mind. Whether it may be spending time with families, having an object that constantly reminds you of something, reflect the traditions or technology of the surrounding culture, or having the simple job of providing the necessities to survive and bring people together are some of the familiar ways to describe home. So, to answer the question of whose home is superior, everyone’s home is superior in their own way because if one person looks at someone else with a different opinion they will either ignore it or refute the idea to the extent that only their own definition remains above all.
Adxamov, Abbosbek. “Aaaand…..ACTION!” Blog post. Piece by Piece. WordPress, 12 Apr. 2017. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
Adxamov, Abbosbek. “Nature of Home.” Blog post. Piece by Piece. WordPress, 21 Mar. 2017. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
Eggers, Dave. Heroes of the Frontier. London: Penguin, 2016. Print.
Lapham, Lewis H. “Castles in Air.” Lapham’s Quarterly. Lapham’s Quarterly, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
Shannon. “The Nature of Home (p. 1-50).” Blog post. The Burdens of Home. WordPress, 12 Mar. 2017. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.
Perspectives of Home