Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 432

Everything in Its Place, by Oliver Sacks, possesses three main themes. A theme of a text revolves around a reoccurring idea which the author wants readers to consider. In this text, the themes revolve around self-reflection, the importance of memory, and acceptance.

Self-reflection

The theme of self-reflection is seen through...

(The entire section contains 432 words.)

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Everything in Its Place, by Oliver Sacks, possesses three main themes. A theme of a text revolves around a reoccurring idea which the author wants readers to consider. In this text, the themes revolve around self-reflection, the importance of memory, and acceptance.

Self-reflection

The theme of self-reflection is seen through Sacks examining the things in his life and the impact each event had upon whom he was and what he learned. For example, Sacks speaks about his love of museums in "Remembering South Kensington." It was through his numerous trips to these "grand museums" that Sacks came to love and appreciate imagination and nature. Through these trips, Sacks was able to reflect upon the world around him and find his place within it. He learned about human culture and science. His love of animals, mammals, and insects grew out of his numerous visits to the museums. During these visits, Sacks seemed to come to terms with his existence in the world. He realized that his existence was minuscule compared to what had come before him. Although this may make some people reflect upon their own unimportance, Sacks did not fall into this thinking. Instead, he found that his life meant something because he was a part of the greater whole. It is through this type of thinking that Sacks could help readers find their own way to reflect upon themselves.

Memory

Another theme present in the text is the importance of memory. One could state that the text exists as a collection of the author's memories. He reminisces on his love of water, first loves, libraries, and death. Through re-examining his past, Sacks is able to make sense of his life. Through this, he is also able to share the importance of making and holding onto memories. Sacks negotiates his past in a way that speaks to readers, and by doing so, he illustrates how memories are important to the readers' present and future. By keeping memories alive, Sacks instills in readers the importance of making memories, both good ones and bad ones.

Acceptance

One final theme in the text is acceptance. At one point in the text, Sacks discusses his own mortality. Stricken with cancer and losing his eyesight, Sacks comes to terms with his own impending death. Death, for many authors, exists as a universal theme. Sacks openly discusses his concerns and acceptance of death. This realistic point-of-view can help readers to do the same. While the text does not function as a "how-to," it does offer insight into the subject of death and coming to terms with the inevitable.

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