The title, I Used to Live Here Once, gives me the impression that the narrator would be excepting of the change (the obvious fact being that they don’t live where they used to). I’m thinking, just from reading the title before reading the story, that the narrator embraces the change in their life. The traveler, for whatever reason, lived somewhere once and had now moved away. I think, just from the title, that the traveler chose not to live where she used to. The word “Once” in the title instantly gave me the impression that I would be reading a story about a journey and since the home is one of the greatest connections we have in life, my impression was that it’s not just a journey but a journey through life.
After reading the story, although I was not expecting the traveler to be dead, I found that I had appropriately guessed the theme of the story. The theme in the story, I Used to Live Here Once, is the journey through life; comfort in the predictable elements of life. The ...view middle of the document...
There’s nothing worse than walking a “familiar” journey that suddenly becomes “unfamiliar.”
Even after reading the story I went back and read it again, knowing the end, and actually felt that I could relate even closer to the familiarity of the journey. As the traveler steps across each rock in the water, the reader can relate and appreciate the comfort in the familiarity of such simple elements. I felt like now I was the traveler myself, walking the road I already knew. I found myself thinking this traveler has is almost searching for those familiar things in the journey to bring peace or confirmation that, yes I lived, and yes I walked here and yes its untainted; it’s still as I remember.
At the end of the story, finding out that the traveler does not know that she is dead, conflicted with the judgments I made when I read the title. I think now, the traveler walks this journey, the way we walk through life, thinking things are familiar; things are safe. But really what we are doing is hoping that things turn out the way we think they should. And the journey, just like life, can come to the end and the traveler may find out that things are still not as they seems. Sometimes, maybe we see the world as we want to see it rather than seeing it for what it really is. It supports that old saying that ignorance is bliss. If we walk through life not knowing any better, than we can live in what we think is a safe and comfortable world.
I think the author chose to make the traveler dead in the story is symbolic of how death allows for new life. Sometimes we need to closure in our old lives so we can make way for something new. Death can often be seen as something negative, but in this story I think it illustrates the traveler’s ability to look into the past and see where she came from. Often this gives better insight to a traveler as they figure out where they want to go in to future; that is if they as willing to sacrifice the comfort in the predictable.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
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