One of the texts that I especially enjoyed this semester was Sarah Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs. Now, I’ll admit that I found the story itself a little dull; as Professor Steele pointed out it is not a novel. But its meaning really captured my interest. I thoroughly enjoyed his two lectures on the text.
I was especially moved by Steele’s insight about Jewett’s message of closure. The narrator had to accept the fact that she could not stay with Mrs. Todd forever and that Mrs. Blackett would inevitably transform into an example of sincere hospitality in her memory. She had to come to terms with the reality that there are times in life when we have to say goodbye to people and places that we have grown attached to, and this is often quite difficult.
This message really hit home because I’m dealing with it in my own life. I transferred to UW a little over two years ago, and if it’s not the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, it’s definitely top three. I’ve met so many wonderful people and gotten to do so many great things. I love the community aspect of a college campus; it’s like a city within a city. Often times I can’t walk down the street for more than a minute without smiling and waving to a familiar face. I love it.
But, all good things must come to an end, right? I will be graduating in May, so my time on this campus is limited, I know. I’ve really struggled to come to terms with this reality. I found so much genuine happiness in Madison that I worry that the next chapter of my life will fall short of my experience here.
And that’s why Jewett’s message is so meaningful to me. Just like I was happy to come to Madison and meet new people and do new things, I must accept that it cannot last forever. I have to say goodbye to this city I love, and all of the great people that made it memorable.
– Franco L.