Do Esther Greenwood's responses to her environment make sense?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Given the historical context in which Esther lives, I think that many of her responses to her environment make sense.  Esther is placed in New York and she is struggling with seeking to understand who she is and what she represents.  Her responses to her environment are reflective of this condition:

I wondered why I couldn't go the whole way doing what I should any more. This made me sad and tired. Then I wondered why I couldn't go the whole way doing what I shouldn't, the way Doreen did, and this made me even sadder and more tired.

In this idea, Esther's response to her environment is rooted in a search for her sense of self.  Esther wishes to understand her identity.  In this need to understand her self, her responses to her environment make sense.  This search takes Esther to some dark psychological and social places.  Her relationships with men, the experiences with physical and emotional cruelty, and the struggle to find herself all serve as the basis for her emotional reaction to her environment.  Esther struggles to make sense of consciousness in this condition.  Yet, she is able to survive and emerge as someone who is "patched, retreaded and approved for the road."  For Esther, it might be difficult to understand the responses she had towards her environment.  However, these responses make sense in terms of who she is and what she had to endure to effectively come closer in finding her psychological essence.  In such a quest, I think that her responses to her environment do make sense. 

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