This essay has a total of 2206 words and 8 pages.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
"Life just is. You have to flow with it.
Give yourself to the moment. Let it happen."
If an individual allows changes to occur in one’s life, then love can be the wonderful result of that acceptance. The theme of reasons why we love and how we love different people is demonstrated throughout the book The Accidental Tourist, written by Anne Tyler. There are two main characters that undergo and accept the changes in their lives, and one character that stays static throughout the book, helping one of the characters to change. Macon Leary is first grounded by loneliness and comfort, then slowly opens himself up to what appears to be a whole new world for him. Then, there is Sarah Leary, who controls some of the changes in her life, and tries to make the best of the rest of them. The character that remains the same throughout the book is Muriel Pritchett—a dog-trainer who takes an interest in Macon and helps him to accept the changes in his life. Above all, the universal theme of this book is love—a surprising new journey for all the characters.
In the beginning of the book, it is explained how Macon and Sarah Leary’s son is murdered and how their marriage suffers because of this. Sarah leaves Macon, which is the beginning stage of Macon’s renovated life, but one that does not start off happily: “He didn’t eat real meals anymore…His hair, which Sarah used to cut for him, jutted over his forehead like a shelf. Ande something had caused his lower lids to droop. He used to have narrow gray slits of eyes; now they were wide and startled…” (14). Macon is not at all used to living alone. He wants to control everything and likes nothing to be left to chance—Sarah’s departure is not something he can control and he does not deal with it well. Macon begins to think that he cannot live without his wife, but soon realizes a few things that really make him think about the marriage:
His brain buzzed with little worries…The worries changed, grew deeper, he wondered what had gone wrong with his marriage. Sarah had been his first and only girlfriend; now he thought he should have practiced on someone else beforehand. During the twenty years of their marriage there’s been moments—there’s been months—when he didn’t feel they had really formed a unit the way couples were supposed to. No, the stayed two distinct people, and now always even friends. Sometimes they’d seemed more like rivals, elbowing each other, competing over who was the better style of person… (15-16)
Macon realizes that he and Sarah never actually became one person; they had always stayed as two separate people living in a stale, routine marriage. Finally, Macon comes to terms with the fact that Sarah is not coming home to him: “Well, of course she wasn’t there. He knew it the instant he stepped inside that house, when he smelled that stale hot air and heard the muffled denseness of a place with every window shut. Really he’d known it all along. He’d been fooling himself. He’d been making up fairy tales” (41). Macon knew that when he got home from his business trip that Sarah would not be there waiting for him like she used to. Although he did not ask for this change in his life, and after living alone for a while, moves back with his sister and brothers—a comfortable change for him. This all begins to change when Macon meets an unusual woman working at the animal hospital where he takes his dog and becomes acquaintances with her. Muriel allows Macon to open up to her, and Macon shows his willingness to do so:
‘I lost my son,’ Macon said. ‘He was just…he went to a hamburger joint and then…someone came, a holdup man, and shot him. I can’t go to dinner with people! I can’t talk to their little boys! You have to stop asking me. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings but I’m just not up to this, do you hear?’ She took one of his wrists very gently and she drew him into the house, still not fully opening the door, so that he had a sense of slipping through something, of narrowly evading something. She closed the door behind him. She put her arms around him and hugged him. (189-190)
At first, Macon does not give Muriel Pritchett a second thought, but before he knows it, he is dating her and soon living with Muriel and her young son. This shows a tremendous change for Macon, and a step forward in his life. Muriel helps Macon to see the world in a different way. She is the character that seems to know exactly what she is after in life, and therefore does not change during the course of this book. On the other hand, all Macon does throughout the book is change his life in extreme ways. Macon learns how to love and trust Muriel in a way that he never has with anyone.
In an addition to Macon’s changing life, there is his wife, Sarah, who makes the decision to leave Macon a year after the death of their son. Sarah feels that Macon does not express his emotions as she would like him to, and that he does not provide her with the comfort she needs and has needed in the past. This frustrates Sarah greatly and she does not feel as if she can continue in the marriage:
I said to you the other day, I said, ‘Macon, now that Ethan’s dead I sometimes wonder if there’s any point to life.’ Do you remember what you answered?… ’You said, ‘Honey, to tell the truth, it never seemed to me there was all that much point to begin with.’ Those were your exact words… ’You just go on your same old way like before. Your little routines and rituals, depressing habits, day after day. No comfort at all.’… ‘I just can’t live with you anymore,’ Sarah said. (3-4)
Sarah is heart-broken with this decision, as is Macon, but she is just not happy with her marriage. During Macon and Sarah’s separation, Sarah starts to move on and begins dating a man. Though she has an apartment of her own, which is what she wanted, Sarah realizes how much she truly loves and misses Macon, and makes
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