The Accidental Tourest Essay, Research Paper
In the novel, The Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler deals with many different subjects, such as love, grieving, change, family, and guilt. She addresses these subjects throughout the novel, in many different scenes. One of these scenes, which I found to be the most helpful in understanding the novel, comes late in chapter twenty, at the very end of the novel, when Macon leaves Sara and goes back to Muriel. This scene is important because how Macon has begun to change, and is now in control of his life. In this scene not only does Macon take a major action on his own for the first time, but he also finally begins to cope with, and accept his son’s death.
One thing in this scene that helps us to see how Macon has changed comes on page 339. Macon is reflecting back on his life, and he realizes that he “had not taken steps very often in his life, come to think of it, really never. His marriage, his two jobs, his relationship with Muriel, his return to Sarah-all seemed to have simply befallen him. He couldn’t think of a single major act he had managed of his own accord.”(339) In thinking this, Macon is realizing that he has dedicated a great deal of time using systems and finding other ways to organize and control the minor aspects of his life, however he has never put much thought, or attempted to take much control of the major aspects of his life. This realization prompts Macon to wonder “Is it to late now to begin.” Macon decides that it isn’t too late, and begins to take control by deciding to leave Sarah, and return to Muriel, who he really loves. For the first time Macon is doing something different from what everyone expects from him.
After leaving the hotel, Macon’s bag begins to weigh him down, and is twisting his back out of line, finally he decides that there is not anything in it worth going through the pain of carrying it, so he leaves it on the curb and moves on. I think that Tyler uses this as a symbol of Macon’s relationship with Sarah. It seems as though Sarah is weighing Macon down, and causing him pain by preventing him from being with his true love, Muriel. Just as his bag is weighing him down, and preventing him from getting home, where he really wants to be.
Another significant thing in this scene occurs when Macon is attempting to hail a cab. He is attempting to hail a cab, and he is in two much pain to raise either of his arms. He sees a cab pull over up the street, and a boy gets out. Macon, being unable to raise his arms, is forced to run in a weird scuttling fashion after the cab. The cab is about to pull away when the boy sees Macon and stops it for him. The boy then opened the door for Macon, helped him into the cab, closed the door for him, and then waived a formal goodbye to him. The cab then makes a U-turn, and passes the boy. When the Macon looks at the boy, the way the boy walks reminds Macon of how Ethan used to walk. Macon then thinks of Ethan. He thinks that if Ethan hadn’t died, he would have grown to be a lot like that boy. This makes Macon think about Ethan growing up in heaven, now 14 years old, instead of 12. This thought eased his grief a little. For Macon, it was “their immunity to time that made the dead so heart breaking?The real adventure, he thought, is the flow of time.”(342) If Macon could picture Ethan as still being part of that flow, in some other place, no matter how unreachable that place was, then maybe “He might be able to bear it after all.”(342) This shows that Macon is finally moving on, and getting over his son’s death. He has spent the entire last two years grieving over his son’s death. He feels guilty, because he gave in to Sarah and let Ethan go to camp. He is constantly haunted by this guilt, as he frequently dreams of Ethan coming home, or calling from camp, but now he feels “a kind of inner rush, a racing forward.”(342), and he now feels as though he will be able to cope with Ethan’s death, which is a very large step for Macon. Throughout the novel, he is afraid to let himself love again, because of what happened with Macon. He seems to push everyone away, and fear commitment, he shows this fear when him and Muriel are discussing getting married, and he says “Muriel, please. I’m not ready for this. I don’t know if I ever will be.”(273) However, if Macon can get cope with Ethan’s death, then maybe he can let himself love again, and get over his fear of commitment, and being hurt.
After getting in the cab, Macon sees Muriel waiting for a cab and tells the driver to stop. As the cab stops, a sudden flash of sunlight hits the windshield, and spangles flew across the glass. The spangles were old water spots, or markings from old leaves, but for a second Macon thought they were something else. “They were so bright and festive, for a moment he thought they were confetti.” The sunshine and confetti both symbolize Macon’s newfound happiness. Sunshine and brightness usually mean that things are starting to look better, and the confetti is a symbol of joy, and happiness, we use confetti at new years and other special occasions to celebrate. The use of these words shows how Macon is happy that he has now moved on, and is getting on with his life. He has left Sarah and is now going to be with Muriel, who he really loves.