“Monsters” by Anna Quindlen conveys through the extended metaphor, the simplistic nature of life; beginning with the intricate imagination during childhood which transcends into an individual coming to terms with reality as adulthood is embarked upon. The short story exemplifies the innocence of children who comprise of obsolete and unripe knowledge, demanding answers from their parents to fill the gaps in their thoughts and outlook. However the author portrays the dramatic imagination of a child accentuating the naivety of young, a symbol of childhood, which is further developed on processes of self-realization.
The author entails this ideology by illustrating to the audience how she denies the fact that there are no ‘monsters under her child’s bed’, and continues to explore through the text the different metaphorical representations of “monsters” in our lives, which vary from major aspects such as creditors chasing an individual for money, or even something as petty as the failure of teenage love. The over-arching notion is that some things need to be learnt on ones’ independence as the individual embarks on processes of self-realization, shaping their beliefs and attitudes.
Writing Prompt: Write an essay of 500-700 words in which you describe something you had to learn on your own, because it couldn’t or shouldn’t have been taught to you by someone else. Explain why the situation had to occur that way and its significance in defining something about yourself.
Though one can say that your personal and societal context can influence the person you become, there is always a phase in life, in which an individual embarks on processes of inner progression, enabling one to understand the true being they have become despite their surroundings. In this stance, religion in my personal context was a major component in life, as my parents had enforced it upon me at a young age, expecting me to adhere to the religion of their choice, Jainism. However, after my family had migrated from India to a foreign society, which comprised of beliefs that were predominantly embedded with Christian roots, there was complexities in the ways I tried maneuvering my religious beliefs to suit those of the Christian society. At first, it was an act of assimilation as I was embarrassed of Jainism and wanted to be like every other child in school, further encouraging me to neglect those religious values imposed by my parents, as I adopted the ways of the new religion at my interest. I did not want to be a Jain, but only a pure Christian.
It was one night, which changed my life, and my outlook on religion. It was the time of “Diwali” a Jain festival, where all my family and friends had gathered to celebrate the auspicious event. However, I refused to join with my ignorant and disrespectful attitude due to my belief of being a Christian. The ongoing celebrations, the youthful atmosphere, the joyful laughter, the harmonious chanting and the colorful sights had enticed my attention towards the Jain proceedings. I began to wonder, am I obliged to Christianity or am I obliged to Jainism? That very same night after undertaking processes of critical thinking and self-realization, I realized I was never obliged to any religion, I am allowed to be a Jain and still enjoy Christian rituals, or I am allowed to be a Christian and enjoy Jain festivals. The very simplistic nature of religion is that, no one forces you to be part of a certain religion; you can follow what you like at any point of your life.
This opened my eyes, as religion, which had been a major component of life, suddenly was replaced with the notion of spirituality, which enabled me to connect with beings with similar interests around the sphere, without the need of following a religion. Indeed religion can be something that influences you based on your surroundings, however spirituality is a feeling and connection you develop with an object or a person who you may believe to be superior and satisfies your spiritual needs. It is a connection, which cannot be taught or influenced by anyone, because it is the bond you create with the inner centre of your mind and soul. Moreover, spirituality is not necessarily an object, it cannot be seen or touched, it is felt and embraced upon, and cannot be taught as it varies from person to person. It is embedded within a process of self-development, and spirituality seen by one person, but may not be seen by another.
The situation had to occur this way due to the need of embarking on inner journeys in which would shape my identity and enable me to understand who I really was. The false assumptions I had about religion were cleared through this act and it opened up new pathways for me to continue my exploration in findings different beliefs, morals and culture that interests me. In relation to this, I as a person have changed from this experience, as I value every religion, respect every belief and enjoy the richness offered through the diversity of cultures evident in our world. Today, I am neither a Christian nor a Jain, but someone who follows the spiritualistic art of meditation, as this art form enables me to connect with superior beings beyond earth and my control. This process of self-realization has changed me into a compassionate and culturally tolerant person.