Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Like a Rolling Stone

Towards the end of the novel Sons for the Return Home we see the family, having returned to Samoa, assimilating the Kiwi’s English with that of their native Samoan. Their life had changed while living away for twenty years in New Zealand. They learned English and a different culture, along with a new standard of living. It’s not an expression mentioned by Wendt, but I think it would’ve been possible for this Samoan family to have acquired the expression ‘like a rolling stone,’ because I feel this perfectly incubuses the man’s journey to find his place in the world.
The book is divided into three parts which are all crucial to helping the boy/man find his place in the world. First he segregates himself from New Zealand society and only really associates himself with Samoan people because that is what he has been taught to do. Then he meets a palagi girl, whom he falls in love with, and has to deal with racial tensions and awkwardness that come with that. Lastly he has to deal with his lost love and the uncomfortable-ness which he faces when he moves back to Samoa, a place where he is supposed feel at home but he doesn’t. The only time that he is comfortable is when he is with the girl, but even this cannot make him feel at “home” because each of their parents are in opposition to them.
So, in this sense, the man is a rolling stone with no place of his own where he is truly comfortable to call “home.” For him, home is not a place, but a sort of state of being. He finds that he cannot connect with anybody, except for with his forbidden love. Like his family in, the man has been outcast by racial segregation and yet feels uncomfortable simply assimilating with people of his own race. He has experienced the new world, likes it, but has been told it is not for him.
However, everything changes when he hears the story of his outcast grandfather, whom he resembles in so many ways. Unlike his dead grandfather, he isn’t a healer, but the man is extremely bright and educated. They both sought something different from Samoan society. And of course their loves had both had abortions.
After finding out that he is not so different from his grandfather, the man is able to free himself from the society which made him feel like a foreigner and cast out his grandfather as an outcast. The man is able to make peace with his father, but then disown his mother so that he felt no longer the ties which had held him down in a way of life that he had out grown. He has freed his mind. He knows that going back to New Zealand won’t bring back the life he had, hell he will never see his girl again; but he has allowed himself to move on—to not be held down by heritage or racial obligation. He allows himself to move forward.
Like a rolling stone, the man has an ambiguous end—not knowing where he will go or land. But he knows that he needs to go and that when he stop, his mind might be comfortable enough referring to that place as “home.”

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