Monday, September 1, 2008

More Truth & Beauty

Before I finished reading Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty I went to the library to secure their copy of Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. In Truth & Beauty, Ann writes about her friendship with the talented and disfigured Lucy Grealy. Autobiography of A Face tells Lucy's story.

This is a true autobiography in that every other person is only an afterthought. Lucy and Lucy's thoughts are the main character here and the writer has done this to good effect. She was a surprisingly introspective young girl yet had some real gaps in understanding that ring true to the writer's age at the time.

It is also a contemplative study on the nature of beauty and our perception/understanding of it. Towards the end of the book she says "Beauty, as defined by society, seemed to be about who was best at looking like everyone else." (page 187) This seems so true at many levels... that we strive to look, act and think like the majority to be accepted or adored.

So many superficial reviews have summed up this book by saying she was writing about inner beauty as being the only true beauty. I can't put my finger on it but I don't think that is what she was saying. She couldn't help herself in striving for outer beauty and constantly doubted her self-worth. And so many cultures consider outer and inner beauty as going hand in hand. Her "ugliness" separated her from others, but it seemed that bridging that gap was her greatest goal. I can't help but wonder if she wouldn't have traded her inner beauty to gain that connection.

4 comments:

LYC said...

I think the gap is in understanding that others' perceptions of outer beauty or lack thereof is a bit like sense and sensibility no?

Michelle said...

I think that all of us, on some level want to feel as if we belong, are a member of that club. Are accepted. And when we are not 'accepted' for one particular atribute, some move on, some try even harder to belong, hating it also at the same time.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

"Beauty, as defined by society, seemed to be about who was best at looking like everyone else."

Interesting... I never thought about that before. I don't know if that's true, or if the ending should have been changed to: "... like everyone else wants to look."

SMC said...

Hmmmmmm.....