Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach is a metaphorical novelette about a young gull and his life on earth. The story tells about Jonathan, and how when he was growing up his parents noticed that there was something different about him. Rather than going with all the gulls to the port to search for food, Jonathan would linger back and practice flying. Flying was his obsession, for he saw it to be more meaningful than the practice of begging for food and snatching up fish.
However, flying, like any other symbol in this parable, has a deeper meaning than it appears to have.
Jonathan’s pursuit of the perfect flight took everything from him. He lost his health, his family, his friends, and even his home. Although he struggled at times with himself, wanting to be regular but at the same time having that inner calling to go onto something more, he never gave in. He continued to practice flight until he was able to fly perfectly at top speeds and to snatch the most difficult fish right out of the water.
He came back to the Flock and tried to persuade them of the importance of learning to fly, but they were ignorant and were incapable of seeing beyond their noses.
As a result, Jonathan was banished and sent to live on the cliffs. In his exile he continued to train, all the while wishing he could’ve been able to persuade the gulls of their folly. “Flight for Jonathan was different then flight for every other gull. Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight — how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. Here, flight is a symbol of something that betters the individual rather than temporarily gratifying the senses. Jonathan’s parents were right, he was different — but in a good way. He was making himself better, while they were only making themselves worse. However Jonathan did not reach perfect flight without struggles. When Jonathan was ostracized by the gulls and discouraged by his parents he felt pain not to his body but to his mind. Once when he was attempting a high-speed dive he crashed into a cliff wall. Physical pain along with mental pain caused him to stumble.
He heard a voice in the back of his head telling him to just give up and that learning to fly wasn’t worth the trouble. He almost listened to the voice, but instead got up and tried again. This portion of the story is about endurance. When one choses to better himself and go against the normal flow, he doesn’t go about it without reaching a low point. During this low point an individual might be convinced that what he or she is doing is a waste of time, and that bettering ones self is not worth the pain and exclusion.
But like Jonathan, a person must shake off those thoughts and remember the true reason for bettering themselves. Only once someone has achieved victory over an aspect of their life will they experience the freedom that Jonathan did. Jonathan’s greatest regret after being banished was not that he would no longer be with his family, but that he had realized something that was amazing, and that they were too blind to realize it themselves. He noticed that there was more to life than just pleasing the senses. He realized that flight was the key to being more than just an ordinary gull.
Cite this Jonathan Livingston Seagull Literary Analysis
Jonathan Livingston Seagull Literary Analysis. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/jonathan-livingston-seagull-literary-analysis-2-315/