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&quotOnGoing Home&quot by Joan Didion

In‘On going home,` Joan Didion identifies with the daily definitionof a family. The title of the article relates with the expectationson what one means by going home to a family. According to Didion, afamily, where the people one loves are, is the home and it is notdetermined by place. Didion has two homes that is where she grew upand her marital home that are two different places with differentcustoms and cultures. However, she focuses on her nostalgia for herchildhood home and her feelings about the place. The feelings areboth positive, but mostly negative though the place remains her home.The essay will discuss Joan`s central idea of a home.

Joandefines her home by explaining and distinguishing the home, she istalking about, particularly where her family lives and where she grewup (Hawkins and Robert 120). The vital distinction prepares thereader`s mind that there is a significant difference between the twoplaces. The difference becomes more apparent when she elaborates thateven the husband is never comfortable in this place she calls a homesince he is not used to the customs of the place. The primary reasonis that even his wife, Joan, changes her character to that of herpast which is particularly unfamiliar (Hawkins and Robert 120).However, to Joan, it is getting back to her past that she is veryfamiliar with. The home gives her a sense of her childhood that shecannot transmit to someone else, though she can comfortably fall backon it.

Theplace she calls home is dusty and poorly kept such that the husband‘wrote with his finger on surfaces all over the house` (Hawkins andRobert 120). The most surprising thing is that no one noticed thewriting as well as the dust. Her definition makes us realize hernegative feelings towards the place, though it bothers no one thatthe house is dusty. There are exclusive talks about the people thatthe family knows and their fate in mental hospitals, drunk-drivingcharges that are unpleasant to people not used to such characters. Itis of particular concern that individuals with the character arefound at Joan`s home. The home does not have desirable characters,but it still remains a home.

Joansays that &quotMarriage is the classic betrayal&quot meaning thatit makes someone abandon the old ways used to as a child and makessomeone embrace a new way of life (Hawkins and Robert 120). In hermarital home, the life is completely different from her marriagehome. Joan is also feeling guilty that she has to betray her daughtersince she cannot provide her with a ‘home`. She cannot provide aplace with cousins, natural environment such as rivers and picnics atthe river since things are different. All she can afford to offer isa funny story for bedtime and assume everything else that is notwithin their reach.

Joanalso takes us to the bedroom of her childhood. There is ‘a bathingsuit that she wore the summer she was seventeen, a letter ofrejection from The Nation that has no final solution, an aerialphotograph of the site for a shopping center my father did not buildin 1954 and she does and does not see her face` (Hawkins and Robert121). She says ‘that I am trapped in this particular irrelevancy isnever more apparent to me than when I am home` showing that despiteher trial to reconnect with her past, there are many difficulties andit is next to an impossibility (Hawkins and Robert 121).

Thewriter also tries to escape from the reality when she decides to makeher daughter`s first birthday party at her home. In a real sense,most of the first birthdays are done by both parents present. Thatspecial birthday is made by one parent absent and at a place wherethat particular parent dislikes. The action is deliberate to have himabsent despite his availability. Joan also dreads calls from herhusband that would get her to the reality that she does not want.That tells the reader that she is not comfortable with her presentjust like her past, however she cannot blend the two since it isimpossible.

Thewriter also says that she and her mother are &quotveterans of aguerilla war we never understood.&quot The war, she is referring tois the ambushing war of change where she and her mother had to changefrom their original homes to different homes (Hawkins and Robert121). It is a cultural war that they cannot win since they do noteven understand it. Joan feels that she even does not know how itcame to be, though she cannot escape from the reality no matter howshe dislikes it. The ending where Joan is reflecting on all thingsshe cannot give to her daughter makes one wonder what her currentlife, particularly marriage is like by comparison (Hawkins and Robert122). One wonders whether it is the reason as to why she makes theessay too short in order not to get to that part.

Inconclusion, the essay &quotOn Going Home&quot by Joan Didion showsthe writer`s feelings about a home. The disparity in the life she isliving in and her past has consumed her such that she focuses on theconflict and forgets to enjoy the reality. Despite the fact that itis apparent that she does not like her biological home, she does notlook forward to her marital home. She feels that it is a betrayal ofher childhood and looks into it with affection since it attaches herto the people she loves.


Hawkins,Rose, and Robert Isaacson. UncommonKnowledge – Exploring Ideas Through Reading &amp Learning.Wadsworth: Cengage Learning, 1996. Print.