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Goodbye Columbus Essay

1903 words - 8 pages

There was one summer a few years ago when a "summer fling" escaped it's reputation of being just another cliché: I met a boy. It was one of those random things; the kinds of things that are unexpected and unlikely, out of place but not. There was something about him though that I was attracted to - A magnet of some sort that had nothing to do with who he was or how he looked; nothing belonging to the music he liked or the people he hung around with. He liked gangster rap, I liked Jeff Buckley. He was a "midnight toker" and I, a depressed bulimic. It usually takes me a while to get comfortable with someone - It took two days with him. The second time we saw each other, we were having sex. It wasn't the kind of awkward sex where you're just worried the whole time that your insides smell, but it was the kind of sex where you don't remember the minutes, or anything really, except only that it felt great. I had to wonder, was it the comfort that made it what it was that summer? Was it the sex? It was probably the sex, although I'd like to think myself more decent of a lady than that - But nevertheless, it was something. As most summer flings burn and die out, mine did as well. How could something so hot burn out and die so abrupt without any explanation except that perhaps the days got shorter? I had to ask myself why, and how and if there was any reason to even ask why and how at all. Although I never found answers that made any sense at the time, coincidently, Goodbye Columbus fell into my lap. Whether it was by the hands of fate or the magic of chance, I know now why it burned, and inevitably why it burned out.In Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth, the main characters, Neil and Brenda, go through what could be almost identical to my own personal experience. Their feelings for each other seem intense, yet in the end, the reader is left feeling like they're hanging in mid air because the conclusion just ends without a reason. We are thus, left to figure it out on our own: The what, how and why. The main question seems to aim at trying to find the answer to the reason why Brenda and Neil's relationship ultimately failed. There could be many possibilities. Perhaps it really was just a fling, that it never really was love. But if it were that easy, this book is being underestimated, and "Goodbye Columbus" is merely a title Roth happened to pull out of his trousers one day on a binge drinking frenzy. This, although possible, is not likely. There has to be more than that - An explanation for the title and an explanation for the obvious explanations. They probably didn't love each other - But why and how do we know? The reason is actually another simple answer. It is because beneath the surface of Neil and Brenda's relationship, there is no uniform connection, nothing they share personally, intimately or spiritually. Neil and Brenda are and represent two completely different things, ideas and really, two completely different worlds. Opposites do...

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