What is the purpose of Educated: A Memoir?

Quick answer:

The purpose of Educated: A Memoir is to shine a spotlight on the importance of education. It creates a stark contrast between the world of traditional Mormonism and a young woman who gets an education and makes a stand for what she believes in.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are several purposes of Educated: A Memoir. One key purpose, as other educators have noted, is to stress the importance of obtaining a conventional structured education, as Tara, the protagonist in the story, ultimately does. However, I would also argue that another important purpose is to show that despite outward signs of religious fervor and adherence, people often behave in ways that their religion would condemn.

In the book, Tara’s father is presented as an authoritarian figure who can be rather frightening in many ways. His unconventional way of thinking about education, preferring home schooling over public school, and his tyrannical passion often causes tension in the home and is a key conflict in the book.

One of the children, Tara’s brother, leaves to escape the confined life he knew growing up and the ever present tension that overhangs the family life. Another brother hides violent tendencies, which the reader cannot fail to realize is an outcome of the children’s strict upbringing and reaction to the way their father treats them and their mother. Tara, like her other brother, manages to break away and ultimately winds up obtaining the education that she had longed for. She becomes a writer.

Ironically, the family itself finds success with the mother’s home remedy ointments. This leaves the reader wondering if the message is that structure, such as higher education, can be good, but not everything needs to be as institutionally structured as society would have us believe.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Educated: A Memoir was written by Tara Westover. It was first published in 2018 and tells the true story of Tara, a young girl growing up in a conservative Mormon family in the US, fighting to be able to go to school and receive a normal education.

When researching your question, you will find that many people argue that the main purpose of the book is to highlight the importance of education. Whilst this is indeed undoubtedly one purpose of the book, I would argue that this is neither the sole, nor the main purpose. Yes, Tara was desperate to be able to go to school and university. Yes, her conservative Mormon family stood in her way, particularly her father, who regarded state education as brainwashing. So clearly, one of the book's aims is indeed to stress the importance of education and to motivate others not to be held back by their family or religion.

However, I would argue that the true purpose of this book is a less altruistic one: I believe that writing this book was an attempt of the author, Tara herself, to come to terms with her past. Through writing her story down, Tara was able reflect on her life and to provide herself with closure. Traumatic events, such as her mother's accident and her brother's abusive behavior, had clearly been a psychological burden on Tara, and therefore needed processing. By writing them down, Tara was able to to clear her mind of these experiences and to move on. Therefore, I would argue that the main purpose of this book is to provide catharsis for Tara Westover.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would argue that the purpose of Educated: A Memoir is to highlight the importance of education and rationality. Having been raised in an isolationist Mormon compound in Idaho, it would have been unlikely that Tara would ever have gotten an education, but as she studies at Brigham Young University and later pursues her doctorate at Cambridge, her eyes are opened to new ways of thinking.

As a child, Tara's father, Gene, forbids her to go to school or even have any modern medicine. She is home schooled, but this takes a backseat to daily labor. The family focuses on self-sufficiency, as Gene believes that economic collapse is imminent.

It is thanks to her older brother Tyler, who learns from any texts he can find and has a passion for music, that Tara is introduced to the idea of life outside the compound, and to the idea of getting an education. She becomes determined to follow in Tyler's footsteps and gain an education, and it becomes her sole focus, even as she carries out the tasks that are expected of her.

When her father's extremism becomes more prevalent, Tara begins to seek work outside of working for her father, which drives home the theme of independent thinking and self-sufficiency. This brave step towards independence is an important part of the sequence of events that led Tara to become an independent woman who was determined to pursue her education.

Her controlling father and her abusive older brother, Shawn, are juxtaposed against Tyler, the gentle brother who encourages her to get an education.

It would be easy to argue that the purpose of this memoir is to cast Mormonism in a disparaging light. By the title alone, however, one can tell that the purpose of this great memoir is the power of education.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Educated is a 2018 memoir written by American author Tara Westover. It covers many socially relevant themes such as education, family, love, faith, suffering, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe the main message and the main purpose of the memoir is to teach us that education is not only about learning new things at school.

Westover narrates her life and writes about her childhood, telling us how she learned that we must treat everyone with love and kindness, even if they weren't that good or kind to us. She wants to tell the readers that education is not only about knowing science or math or literature; it is also about the challenges of life, about our experiences, about the people we meet, about how all of us learn what it means to be a part of this world; she writes how we all gradually form our views and opinions based on our past experiences, and how all of these factors determine our identity and individuality.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial