Literature Review of the Novel “Illusions” by Richard Bach

“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.” This is an extremely powerful quote that is proven in the opening scene of the book. This scene includes the main character of the novel, Richard, who is searching for the “meaning of life”. While flying his 1928 Fleet over Ferris, Illinois, Richard spots another biplane parked in a field Knowing how lonely flying can be, Richard decides to land and make some conversation. Little did he know that the pilot of the 1928 Travel Air 4000 was the “Mechanical Messiah.” Here, Richard begins his journey, the journey that he has drawn to himself.

After landing, Richard meets his guide on the journey, Dan Shimoda. This guide was no ordinary man, for he was the “Messiah.” The first day the two met they hit it off right away. It was like as if they were destined to fly together, but really they weren’t because nobody forced Richard to land that day. When Dan asked Richard if he thought he would be “led to a teacher who can help him”, Richard replied, “if the teacher doesn’t happen to be me, then yes.” In all actuality though, Richard led himself to this great teacher, and ironically the teacher happened to be Dan Shimoda. This was so because “Teaching is reminding others they know just as well as you”. Which was just what Dan was doing, informing Richard of the everyday “llusions”.

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A few minutes into their first conversation, a customer arrives with his granddaughter. Since Dan was on lunch, Richard took the old man for a ten minute flight for three dollars. When Richard landed though, Dan and the little girl who was afraid of heights were airborne. Upon landing, the little girl jumped out of the plane yelling ecstatically about her enjoyment of the flight. Here is where Richard witnessed his first miracle, or illusion should I say. This was only the beginning of a very rough day though, because after the first flight Richard had forty-nine more flights, the best day of his life, all because he drew the circumstances to himself. In his sleep that night, Richard had a dream that would explain to him who Don was. Even though the dream told who Don was, there were still many questions to be answered for Richard.

After Richard talked to Dan about the dream he was even more confused than before he had the dream because couldn’t figure out why, or how the “Messiah” could quit such a demanding job. Don’s answer to this puzzling question was simple, “it’s like going to auto races to see the crashes, they came to me to see miracles.” Don meant that people would come to him for the wrong reasons. Don just simply wished the people would listen to what he had to say. A wish that Richard was fulfilling unwillingly. Shortly after explaining his retirement, Don was hit with another vital question that would drastically effect Richard’s journey. The question was simple, “Where do you learn this stuff, Don?” The answer was Richard’s new guide in life, the “Messiah’s Handbook”. Whenever Richard became puzzled in life, Donald showed him that he could open up the handbook and the solution would await him at whatever page he opened up to.

The next Saturday Richard decided to show off a little bit and land his Fleet on a tiny farm, which under normal circumstances Don’s big Travel Air could have never landed. Somehow though Don had his plane hovering at 30 m.p.h. and landed the plane in a shorter distance than Richard had. This frightened Richard so much that he yelled “What was that landing?” Finally Don told Richard what he needed to hear, “everything is an illusion”. Later in the day though, one of Don’s “illusions” scared Richard enough to make him leave without a good-bye. The illusion was when Don literally healed a crippled man so he could fly with Don. This brought the crowds Don hated, and pushed away what he enjoyed, Richard’s company.

A few nights after Richard left, he found himself thinking about Don and attempted to float the wrench in the air as Don did before. Not being able to make the wrench float, Richard became discouraged and went to sleep. Awaking the next morning to the feel of the wrench brushing the back of his head. The wrench was floating. After pondering how the wrench was floating, Don himself appeared in the sky. Richard was again dumbfounded, for how could Don have found him with thousands of miles of land to look in. With his presence Don had an answer. He explained to Richard that the wrench was floating because it was in Richard’s dream. Don explained this when the loudest music he ever heard woke him up at six in the morning. The music was coming from Richard’s dream. Don explained that at first you can only create these illusions in your dreams because you haven’t learned enough yet to see them. So whether it be in his dreams or in “real life”, Richard controls his own illusions.

Nothing could have made this more clear than when Don walked across the water. Here is where Richard comes to the realization that he could control his own “illusions”, for Richard does the same as Don does. They walk on water and swim through land. They create their own illusions. Though these illusions seemed to come natural to Richard, he still could grasp the concept of “walking through a wall”. This in itself brought helped Richard greatly on his journey because this unrealization of the brick wall would lead to the explanation for creating “illusions”. Don, after being accused of “not being part of this world”, angrily explained to Richard that there were 4 billion people on earth, each of them having there own world. After opening the handbook here for guidance, it took Richard quite some time to realize how real fiction could be.

Later in the novel on the set of a radio show, for the first time, Don made people angry by sharing his outlook on life with them. His easy going way of life really made the people of Hayward furious because they believed in responsibility. The only responsibility Don believed in was the responsibility one has to himself. The morning after the show Don thanked Richard for teaching him what he needed to learn. All he needed to learn was that his happiness should not depend on other people but only on himself. Shortly after tragedy strikes and Don is shot and killed. Donald’s death after enlightenment proves the quote, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.” Through Donald’s teachings and through his death, Richard eventually became his own “Messiah”. Though he had doubts along the way, Richard’s actions prove that “Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.”

Illusions. Bach, Richard. Dell Publishing.1977.


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Literature Review of the Novel “Illusions” by Richard Bach. (2018, Sep 08). Retrieved from