The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull enjoys practicing flight and learning to fly at increasing speeds. To him, the most important thing is to fly quickly. By the end of the story, Jonathan not only flies at previously unheard of speeds but also overcomes time as a tangible entity; he learns how to travel anywhere and to any time he wants.

Jonathan does not want to live the same way as the rest of his flock. The others only “get from shore to food and back again”; they have no interest in flying as an art form or as a spiritual quest. After a few days of practice, Jonathan breaks the world speed record for seagulls, which was ninety miles per hour. He soon makes a mistake and lands in an explosion, crashing into the sea. He wishes for death at this point. Feeling pity for himself, he gives up his pursuit of speed, but the uncontrollable desire to fly fast wells up within his soul. He flies at night, causing a breakthrough realization: If he pulls his wings together, like a hawk’s, he will be able to fly straight down at super-seagull velocities. He soon reaches a speed of two hundred miles per hour, a speed he experiences as power, joy, and pure beauty.

Jonathan shows the other gulls his accomplishment, but he is ostracized by the Elder and immediately banished to the Far Cliffs. He lives a long and happy, yet remote, life as Outcast until two angelic seagulls escort him to heaven, then leave him to discover his new life. In heaven, he travels at...

(The entire section is 537 words.)