What is the theme of Johnathan Livingston Seagull?

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The themes of Jonathan Livingston Seagull build on one another, culminating in the theme (message) that love and forgiveness are the all-important values in life. As Jonathan's mentor Chiang tells him,

Keep working on love.

But realizing the centrality of love comes only after Jonathan embarks on a long journey of self-discovery. This journey leads him, first, to understand he is different from the other gulls. They care about flying as a practical means to an end: for them, it is a tool to find food. Jonathan, in contrast, falls in love with flight as a thing itself. He spends all his time on the act of flying. He wants to soar ever higher and fly ever faster. He doesn't care if flying brings him food.

This non-conformity is not understood by the rest of the gull community, and the gifts of what he has learned are rejected by the other gulls. He is cast out. This angers him, though he is fortunate to be able to learn the knowledge of "perfect speed" by the gull Chiang in the higher realm he, Jonathan, has achieved.

All of Jonathan's wisdom and appreciation of flying is good, as is his arrival at a higher plane of existence, but—and this is key message of the book—the highest value lies in Jonathan's ability to forgive those who wronged him and give back to his society in love. Jonathan comes to understand this message and is able to go back to his flock as a loving and wise guide.

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is about a seagull named Jonathan who loves flying. His primary goal is to fly every day and push himself to his limits with speed and tricks, while the other seagulls focus on eating. Because he isn’t able to follow the rules of the flock, he becomes an outcast. He is then approached by two other seagulls who take him to a new place where the other seagulls love flying as much as he does. He learns about forgiveness and love and decides to return to his flock to help other seagulls who are also outcasts. He creates a group of followers, and when it is time to move on to teach another flock, he leaves another seagull in his position as teacher.

Throughout this fable, there are several significant themes. One theme is individualism. Jonathan chooses to do what he wants instead of conforming to the ways of his flock. Although he tries to fit in with the other seagulls to avoid disappointing his parents, he realizes that that is not who he is. He chooses to continue flying, and that is when he is happiest and at peace.

Another theme is self-determination. Through his persistence in practicing, Jonathan is able to beat records that other seagulls could not even dream of. He focuses his mind and body on flying, and he excels at it. His self-determination also transports him to a new place, where he learns new things and is able to teach the other seagulls back in his home flock.

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The famous novella Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach tells of a lone seagull that is fed up with the monotony and meaninglessness of daily existence. He develops a passion for flying and learns everything he can about it. This gives him the joy he has been missing, but his flock sees him as a nonconformist and ostracizes him. He then meets a pair of gulls who guide him to another plane of existence with other gulls in which flying is a spiritual and unifying feat that gives unlimited freedom. Eventually, Jonathan returns to Earth so that he can pass on the lessons he has learned to other gulls who find themselves unable to conform to the expectations of normal society.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull has several themes that complement one another. For instance, it emphasizes the importance of personal freedom. It encourages readers to embrace their individuality rather than compromise and accept the strictures with which society would shackle them. Additionally, it extols the value of striving for perfection when attempting to meet one's goals in life. It also addresses the theme of the importance of teaching others rather than being content with wisdom acquired for oneself.

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The theme of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is self-discovery through seeking a higher existence as a nonconforming individual.

Jonathan’s inner conflict of whether to conform to the “sea gull” way of life or to leave that life to take flight plays out through the story. The gull feels there is more to his existence than using his cursory flight abilities to obtain food. He envisions life outside the limits imposed on him by “society.” He wants to soar even at the expense of becoming an outcast from his flock.

Although he falters along the way, through his investigations and travels he realizes the positivity of practice and education. Jonathan is not content with his newfound knowledge and abilities; therefore he returns to his flock to locate and educate other outcasts about the possibilities that exist in life, even if it means loneliness, isolation, deep introspection, and reexamination of common beliefs.

The symbolism of flight and the cliché of “the sky is the limit” play out throughout the book.

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Sometimes sticking to your beliefs comes with a great price. Resisitng the current of ideas held to be true or acceptable can make you very unpopular or even bring ridicule and alienation. Going against the crowd can be a lonely road, but if you believe in yourself and your convictions, you are still a 'winner' at heart: "To thine own self be true."

Another theme is that isolation is often necessary for the transmission of knowledge. A leader must often distinguish himself from the crowd before he has any followers or before he can offer a different path from that which is already known.

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The overall theme of the book is that we should all strive to reach our greatest potential and break out of the boundaries that limit us.  Bach tries to fuse the enlightenment thought that man (or gull) himself can overcome all obstacles with both New Age and Christian concepts of the soul and the afterlife to create his own spiritual philosophy.

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