Our Deepest Fears
[ ⚠️ contains spoilers]
What are your deepest fears?
My top two:
1. The ocean
Not the fear of drowning, but a fear of the unknown, unnamed and undiscovered creatures of the deep sea. The thought of them living in extreme conditions, adapting and evolving in scary ways, fills me with terror. (Of course this is an irrational fear, but it haunts my dreams nonetheless). 😅
2. Abandonment/ loneliness
I grew up in a large, close-knit, and loving family. We have our share of problems, but there has always been a sense of love, security and acceptance. The thought of being abandoned or losing this sense of acceptance scares me beyond words.
Comparing two books
I love spending hours of my days relaxing and reflecting in solitude. To some, it may look like I’m wasting time but in my opinion, people need time and space to grow. They need these hours to sort through emotions, come up with ideas, daydream etc. and I do this happily.
Despite my need for solitude, I’m deathly afraid of actually being alone (not having my family and friends to call on), and the loneliness that it would lead to. It’s for this reason that I’m particularly sensitive about this theme in books, movies and when I observe loneliness in the lives of others. I find it especially distressing.
Recently, for a book club meeting, we focused on Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This is a coming-of age story set in the 1950’s through 60’s. It was a really great read and definitely a page turner but I also found it deeply troubling.
Kya, the protagonist, experienced loneliness and abandonment to the extreme. I’m talking about abject loneliness, abject abandonment and ridicule. It was heartbreaking and I cried at several points .
This isn’t unusual for me though, I LOVE when a book stirs up feelings, disrupting my emotions until I brim with tears. But this was different. When reading this book, I felt despair. Not just a few tears casually wiped away before eagerly turning the page... No, I was actually despairing. I felt deeply troubled and I woke up the next morning feeling ‘blah’. It’s not often that a book leaves me in such a state.
Although I love getting my emotions stirred, I don’t particularly enjoy when they bring me to despair. I laid in bed that morning, thinking to myself, ‘I know this feeling, I don’t like this feeling, and it feels like déjà vu.'
After some deep though, I realised that I felt this same bitter, soul-crushing despair after reading ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley a few years ago (the feeling was definitely amplified with Frankenstein.. I felt ‘blah’ for about a week after reading). I initially connected these books by the feeling I was left with, but on further inspection, I noticed some similarities in the plots as well:
Both protagonists experienced severe loneliness, abandonment and ridicule.
Their societies/communities shunned them.
They were both called names, abhorred and abandoned.
The Monster was instantly rejected by Frankenstein and cast out / Kya was also abandoned by both of her parents in different ways.
Both desperately craved friendship.
Both protagonists were initially illiterate
The Monster had to teach himself to speak and then to read. He received absolutely no parenting.
Kya was taught to read by a friend.
Both found solace in nature
Kya spent most of her days in nature. She felt at home with the wildlife.
The Monster described feeling his spirits lift in springtime.
In a way, neither character was left with parents and nature became their mother.
Both ended up killing someone
After reading Frankenstein, I wondered if the Monster would have done those awful things if he had been shown some sort of love and affection. Even a small amount, a smidgin… just a modicum would have made the difference.
Kya killed in an attempt to defend herself. She felt abandoned and had always been her own protector. When faced with a serious threat, she eliminated it.
These are just some plot points that came to mind when I thought about both stories. I read Frankenstein years ago so there may be some other similarities that I’ve forgotten about. Despite the strong feelings that these two elicited, I would still reread them and would also highly recommend them both to you as well. 😊
PS While reading Crawdads, the song 'Expecting to Fly' by Buffalo Springfield came to mind. I did some research and found that the song was released in the late '60s, around the same time that some major events took place in the book. I thought that was interesting :)