In the essay “On Self-Respect” by Joan Didion one is confronted by the perception of delusion and self-deception. Throughout the essay Didion uses an array of allusions, images, and diction to persuade us into comprehending the essay and what it is trying to display. The essay evaluates and condemns various allusions that help to convey Didion’s message that she is trying to get across that when you have self-respect you have more benefits than when you self-reproach.
In paragraph two Didion explains how she has not been elected to Phi Beta Kappa and that the “failure could scarcely have been more predictable or less ambiguous.” Didion knew she did not have the grades for it. She explains a past event that helps us understand more about her and why she might feel the need to write an essay over self-respect and self-reproach. Didion creates an image in the readers mind that now because of her past events she had been stripped of her innocence. Didion was so used to having everything go her way but now she realizes that the, “lights will not always turn green” for her. She now regrets not trying harder and blames herself for not being elected to attend Kappa, which makes her not have any self-respect for herself as a person.
Throughout the first half of the essay Didion explains self-respect and how one can be stripped of it but also what self-respect is about. In paragraph four Didion describes that to have no self-respect is to just lie awake during the night and think about all the regrets we have and to blame our self as we lie there not able to turn off the voice in our head.
Didion uses the allusions of self-reproach or self-deception in paragraph four. Paragraph five reads, “It’s our choice to sleep in the bed we make,” what Didion is trying to get across is that the bed we make is the future path we set. It is our choice to sleep in it or in other words walk that path to self-respect. This paragraph addresses an image in the reader’s heads that it is always their choice whether or not to take the path to having the self-respect that they need.
The other half of the essay Didion changes to a more persuasive, more experienced, tone about having self-respect. Since Didion has gone through what suggests to be not having self-respect due to her past events she is now try to convince us, the readers, that having no self-respect will get us no where in life. In Paragraph nine it states, “but when they do play, they know the odds,” referring to the people that do have self-respect.
This part of the essay is trying to show the readers that people who have self-respect play the fields and take risks and that’s one of the reasons self-respect is good for a person. Didion uses her past to tell us that soon enough no one will be there for us after we push them away because its easy to be mad at everyone when you blame yourself all the time. People will no self-respect will no longer be involved with the outside world, which can hurt a multitude of people. We must choose the path that we made that is better for us.
In the essay Didion uses a variety of allusions and imagery to prompt the readers that we cannot self-reproach and that self-respect does not come from others opinions but from what we think of our self. Didion wants the readers to apprehend that we have to move on from our mistakes in the past because that’s what they are, the past. We cannot change what has happened so we must live now in the present and set our self a path in the future to follow. In the end the readers learn the lesson that they must explore and venture self-respect and the meaning and concept of it to understand why we need it and why we must not blame yourself for the past but to move on in life.
Courtney from Study Moose
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