A Patch of Blue

I just finished reading A Patch of Blue after seeing the movie about a week ago. I feel deeply affected by this experience, especially by the novel. I wanted to record some thoughts about this before they fade.

I am most moved and impressed by Selina's depth of feeling and joy of life. Before I finished reading the book yesterday, I had the thought that I have created nothing of beauty during my life. Now, creation of beauty is not a theme of the novel; nor do I truly feel that I have created nothing of beauty. But I do feel a serious lack of meaningful accomplishment, though I'm unclear on what I should now do about this.

Selina affects me similarly to Pollyanna. In each I see someone who can be happy and excited about life despite hardships and troubles. This is powerfully attractive to one who has sometimes described his life as a losing battle against depression. Selina is more grown up and more realistic, has more serious troubles, and really is more interesting and relevant. Given her impoverished history when the novel opens, she can hardly be taken as a role model for anyone raised in a more normal environment. Yet there seems to be something here to be learned, though I can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it is nothing more than a nostalgia for lost innocence, or lost zest.

The story is not so much about a white girl and a black man, as about a repressed girl becoming liberated. This kind of story has a great appeal to me, as my fondness for Now, Voyager attests, because I see a large part of my life story in this progress from repression to liberation.

November 22, 2000