Phil Dunphy

"I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face." - Phil Dunphy

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Raw Broccoli

            After completion of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Olive Kitteridge, I for some odd reason cannot help but compare the book to raw broccoli…without dip. At first thought, one must think that Olive Kitteridge proved one of the worst books I have ever read in my entire life due to raw broccoli’s repulsive taste. I, however, will explain why such a rash and hasty inference deems preposterous in this scenario. People who have never experienced the displeasure of eating raw broccoli should consider themselves extremely lucky. The initial outrageous blandness of such a vegetable hits the tongue’s taste buds and somehow, someway, turns the bland taste into a malevolent foulness, often becoming difficult to swallow. The same rings true for Strout’s novel. At some points during the reading, I wanted nothing more than to “spit” the words back out. Strout includes narratives that prove difficult to “swallow,” like raw broccoli. For example, the author writes a short story about a young woman named Julie, still controlled by her mother, Anita, despite Julie’s entrance to womanhood. Julie recollects to her younger sister how “Most mothers don’t shoot their daughter’s boyfriends,” after Anita attempts to kill Julie’s ex-fiancé (195). Although quite scary, Strout surely captures an accurate mother-daughter relationship in certain American families within this narrative. This thought urges me to put the broccoli down. In another narrative, Strout explains how the main character, Olive Kitteridge, visits her son, Christopher, in New York City. Olive, a widow that lost her lovable husband to a stroke, maintains few friends in her growing age. Christopher remains one of few reasons Olive continues to keep living. However, by the end of her stay in New York, Olive explains why she cannot call her son, “He was cruel” (232). This direct characterization of Christopher creates realization towards Olive’s situation: she has no one left in her life to live for. However, as with raw broccoli, many people forget the effects of battling through such horrible “taste.” Raw broccoli deems great for the human body, providing a person with physical strength and endurance. Olive, though quite old in age, battles through the curveballs and difficulties life throws at her. Due to her perseverance, Olive falls in love with a man, filling each other’s “holes” within their lives, like “two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together” (270). Although very depressing at points, Olive Kitteridge ends on a hopeful note. In doing so, Strout utilizes the character of Olive to speak to those encountering difficult life problems in order to tell them that there is always a reason to live. Similar to broccoli, Olive Kitteridge proves worthwhile to “eat.”

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