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To many people, high school is a stressful, difficult, and hardest part of their life as a teen. From staying healthy, passing classes and fitting in. It is a time to get ready for what you will do forward in your life. Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park embodies the play’s message of dedicating oneself to the attainment of pure love. The novel is written in Omaha, Nebraska and the set is during 1986-1987. Two teens want nothing more than to be together, and they will do anything to do so. Through all the ups and downs, this couple found a way to keep their relationship going strong, and made every moment count. Park is a form of love for Eleanor, as she is for him, and both have been through countless of struggles in their life.
This novel follows two teenagers and their lives while they explore issues like body image, and peer pressure. The novel has a POV that shifts between Park and Eleanor. Park is half-Korean, half-American, and despite being accepted among students and locals, he feels like an outsider due to his Asian features. Eleanor has red hair and is a ‘big girl’, she has a very interesting sense of style mostly due to her family’s financial conditions. This makes her stand out in a crowd and is a person viewed of many jokes. The major issues that are viewed in the novel are peer pressure and body issues. Park and Eleanor constantly feel that they need to do things that would not attract attention towards them and find a way to fit in. They start to get more involved with each other and connect through them spending time together on the bus and school. ‘Until this moment, she’d kept Park in a place in her head.” This quote shows how much Eleanor thought about him whenever they weren’t together, Park had the same experience, but only a little bit different. Park begins to experience something he has never experienced before, and he starts letting others know about this feeling for Eleanor. On the other hand, Eleanor is unhappy with her body and family, but is comparatively more mature. She doesn’t want to lie about who she is or pretend to be someone she is not. Even though her clothes are torn or ripped, she patches them with different fabrics and dresses a little bit strange. Park likes to call her, ‘comfortable in her skin’ because despite not wanting to attract attention to herself, she is not ashamed of herself.
The story Eleanor and Park, has characters that are unique in their own way, especially this young couple. They do not care about what people think in their relationship, and ignore all the negative things that are pointed towards them including rumours. Considering all the gossip about Park and Eleanor at school, no one would have ever expected the two to end up together. An odd,red-headed,white girl, with a good-looking, asian, comic book loving boy. Something that helps Eleanor with her family knowing she has someone by her side. Eleanor’s parents play a huge role in her life, however not in a good way. Her stepdad Richie, is an abusive, not loving father, and Eleanor is afraid to even step foot in her own house as her mother barely supports her. “ Eleanor’s family had been messed up even before Richie came around and send everything straight to hell.” This quote shows that Eleanor’s family has always been messed up and now that Richie is with them, the problem has grown to become worse than before. At all these tough times, Park comforts her. These characters show us how difficult times can get, and that someone will always lend a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on.
The symbolism of the novel has an enormous effect on the story-line. At the beginning of the relationship, Eleanor and Park had a complete different way of communicating. Through comic books and mixtapes. “When Park got on the bus, he’d set the comics and Smith tapes on the seat next to him, so they’d just be waiting for her. So he wouldn’t have to say anything.” They linked through the comic that Park read and the songs he shared with Eleanor. Therefore the comic are a symbol, and without them this couple wouldn’t have come this far in their relationship. Another symbol that I found was Parks father manual truck. Parks dad is always concerned about teaching his son “manly” things , so in their family, learning to drive a stick represents the coming of a man. Although for Park, this task is not easy as it seems, he is not too ambitious to complete it. In the end, Park does learn how to drive a stick eventually, as it represents the trust Eleanor soon gains to have for him. These symbols show us how important all the small things in our life can really mean. This story shows that you should never change who you truly are for others. This is very important because hiding your inner-self, should never be the answer, and one shall always be confident in their own skin. Eleanor definitely did not change who she was for Park, and Park accepted her the way she was. “Eleanor was right: She never looked nice, She looked like art, and art wasn;t supposed to look nice, it was supposed to make you feel something.” This quote shows us that Park is accepthing and that looks don’t and shouldn’t matter. He loved her so much that the things people said about her, didn’t matter to him.
The novel shows how friendship can change over time and experience, from growth of the relationship of Eleanor and Park. This relationship grows from reading comics over Park’s shoulder, to exchanging mixtapes, and holding hands. Relationships are not easy and they do take time. Eleanor and Park had to learn patience with one another so that they were able to keep this relationship going.
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