“Reflections of a 17 Year Old” by Sylvia Plath and “A Walk to the Jetty” by Jamaica Kincaid | Short Story Analysis

“Reflections of a 17-Year-Old”

I began working on this paper by first reading the short story “Reflections of a 17 Year Old by Sylvia Plath” and I came to realize that the author, Sylvia Plath could have been any regular 17-year-old writing this story. The significance of the theme can be clearly read in the passage that goes:
Somehow I have to keep and hold the rapture of being 17. Every day is so precious I feel infinitely sad at the thought of all this time melting farther and farther away from me as I grow older. Now, now is the perfect time of my life.“ (Plath, Sylvia “Reflections of a 17-Year-Old”).

Ms. Plath clearly depicted the fear that every 17 years old, be he male or female, has about that age that is considered the turning point in every young adult’s life. At the age of 17, one is neither a child nor an adult anymore in the eyes of the world. It is that transition into the age of legality when people are expecting more mature decisions and responsibility out of a teenager. It is the fear that every teenager has. That the past life of fun and carefree fancy is fast becoming a thing of the past, never to return.
She knows that there is a part of the life she has now that she will miss in the future because of the way that her life will now change at a pace faster than she is able to comprehend and handle. She explains;
I am continually more aware of the power which chance plays in my life… There will come a time when I must face myself at last. Even now I dread the big choices which loom up in my life – what college? What career? I am afraid. I feel uncertain. What is best for me? What do I want? I do not know (Plath, Sylvia “Reflections of a 17-Year-Old”)
It is clear that this woman is still a child at heart, as are most teenagers. Although she may long for freedom, she would like to have it without ever having to stop being a 17-year old in the care of her parents. When she does not have to make any life-altering decisions and possibly make a mistake. She embodies the very fears that every 17 years old who is about to embark on a college career feels and I cannot blame her for it. I too felt the same way when I started college.

Reflections on “A Walk to the Jetty”

Annie John reminds me of myself when I left my parents to come to the United States to study. Jamaica Kincaid successfully created a character that embodied the uncertainty that every college student fears when finally faced with the reality of leaving their parents and their homeland for education abroad. The uncertainty if the thing makes one feel, as Annie John did that;
… suddenly a wave of strong feeling came over me, and my heart swelled with a great gladness as the words “I shall never see this again” spilled out inside me. But then, just as quickly, my heart shriveled up and the words “I shall never see this again” stabbed at me… (Kincaid, Jamaica “A Walk to the Jetty”).

I too faced the same dread when I came here to study. Just like the character in the story, I wished that the events in my life would not change once I left for my foreign education. But I too knew that it would not be that way. So, the resigned acceptance that Annie faced her future with is a sentiment all too similar to students whose circumstances were similar to hers. Leaving behind her parents to face an uncertain life and future far removed from their loving care and assistance is something that every college student fears. But just because parents may not be physically present does not mean that they no longer support their child. Just as Annies resolve was weakening, her parents gave her the best reason to go on, they believed in her:
I was seated in the launch between my parents, and when I realized that I was gripping their hands tightly I glanced quickly to see if they were looking at me with scorn, for I felt sure that they must have known of my never-see-this-again feelings. But instead my father kissed me on the forehead and my mother kissed me on the mouth, and they both gave over their hands to me, so I could grip them as much as I wanted.

That was the main point that this story wanted to drive home in my opinion. That no matter where we end up in life, our parents will always be the invisible force that is there, guiding our decisions and actions. For it is from their belief in us that we first take our strength once we go to college and leave them at home. They are the first people to believe that we are mature and capable enough to face the unknown alone.

 

Works Cited
Kincaid, Jamaica. “A Walk to the Jetty”. bpe.org. bpe.org. n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.
Plath, Sylvia. “Reflections of a 17 Year Old by Sylvia Plath”. chapawee. chapawee.wordpress.com. 10 Jun. 2011. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

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