Elsa has undertaken a literal journey by traveling from Cape Town to Neiu Bethesda. Elsa tells Helen that she has been dealing with the end of a relationship with a married man, David. Can this also be regarded as a type of journey? Explain why.
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Elsa's literal journey to Helen Martins's in New Bethesda is also a figurative one. On her way to visit her aging friend she has given a ride to a desperate African woman, who has lost her husband and home and now carries her child on her back. This encounter serves as a reminder to Elsa of her own personal and emotional losses from which she tries to move forward. Like Helen she, too, is on the road to Mecca because she seeks peace and answers to her own chaos.
In a similar fashion to her aging friend Helen, Elsa Barlow is on a journey to self-realization, hoping to find fulfillment in her life. After Pastor Marius departs, Elsa and Helen have a heart-to-heart talk and Elsa reveals that she is at the end of a relationship with a married man, who has returned to his wife. Sadly, when the relationship ended, Elsa learned she was pregnant, so she terminated this pregnancy in order to end all connection with the man, and to punish herself. But, now she fears commitment to anyone and is not so sure of her feelings.
After picking up the woman and daughter, Elsa questions her decision to terminate her pregnancy and is pessimistic about the direction in which her life is going. She has directed her frustration at Helen because she needs Helen to remain a strong role model on the new road which she must travel. Yet, Helen has needs for her own solace. She tells Elsa,
I can't say that I'm not frightened anymore. But at the same time I think I can say that I understand something now.
The road to my Mecca was one I had to travel alone....I was wrong to think I could banish darkness.
Elsa must also face the darkness of what she has done and no longer be frightened of the future. She must begin anew just as the African woman will start anew, and seek self-fulfillment and freedom just as Helen has done.
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