themes of jonathan livingston seagull?theme of perfection,theme of forgiveness.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bach follows an American tradition of celebrating the power of nonconformity. This book echoes Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance." Jonathan is depressed when the book opens because of the conformity and materialism in seagull culture. He literally wants to go higher in life than his peers. He craves something different and fuller. He wants to soar. Through Jonathan's example, Bach shows the reader that through hard work, perseverance, and the courage to be different, one can fly higher. As Jonathan comes to understand:

You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.

In part III, the theme of forgiveness comes to the fore. Jonathan needs to learn to forgive his seagull flock for their limitations. He also needs to forgive them for rejecting and shunning him for being different. When he does that, he is able to go back to them and begin to teach them a new way of life. This is an important theme: Jonathan is not concerned simply with his own enlightenment but understands that love and forgiveness compel him to help others find a higher way of living. 


stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The predominant theme in Jonathan Livingston Seagull is the struggle to be true to oneself, to achieve all one can and all one desires, using and developing personal gifts and abilities to their highest possible degree.

our purpose for living is to find that perfection and show it forth...Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.

Having achieved this personal goal, one then has an obligation to share the accomplishment and the wisdom by becoming a mentor to others as they struggle to grow within themselves. Jonathan learns from Sully, learns more at a higher level from the Elder Gull Chiang, and even finds illustrations and new applications in his mentoring of Fletcher. The perfection of love and flight allows them to overlook the faults of others, focussing on helping them realize their potential.

You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That's what I mean by love. It's fun, when you get the knack of it.

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