As I read Eleanor and park I noticed that she faces many obstacles most sixteen-year-old do not have to experience. The pain and suffering described in Eleanor and Park is overwhelming. Eleanor’s not only bullied at school, she’s bullied horribly, in a permanent emotional effect kind of way. And the terrifying situation in her house is hard to even imagine. Eleanor’s been abandoned by her mom, forgotten by her dad, and threatened by her step-dad. While her mom suffers abuse on a daily basis, Eleanor and her siblings are crowed together in terror, this book forces us to address suffering, and what happens when character like Eleanor have to deal with every day.
Eleanor and park meet each other on the school bus. At first Elanor is nervous, and she doesn’t know where to sit, since no one wanted her to sit by her, but soon park let her sit by him. He said softly “Jesus fuck” (Rowell chapter 1). which made her feel uncomfortable sitting next to him she left six inches between them because she thought he was another jerk. Park didn’t want anything to do with her in the beginning, but soon realizes that there’s something special about Eleanor and soon develops feelings for her causing them both to change. Eleanor grew up in an abusive house hold, her step-father Richie might have done something to Eleanor that causes her to feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. She doesn’t like to show off, or try to be pretty. Tina often bullied Eleanor and might have put sticky notes on her locker, and her gym clothes in the toilet, with her friends.
Park is a form of love for Eleanor, even if she doesn’t ever tell him in the book. Like many of the kids in Eleanor’s neighborhood, life is troubled and difficult, but unlike her classmates, Eleanor has nowhere to run when things get bad, Eleanor’s terrible step-father Richie makes home life miserable, her school is full of Tina and Steve, bullies, and the build-up of evil in her life eats at her self-esteem bit by bit. Eleanor’s only secret place is the place in her mind full of park, which is displayed by Rowell’s slick knowledge techniques. The struggle that Eleanor faces as she moves to the suburbs may be shattering, but with her courage and park’s help, she is able to overcome these things.
The only way Eleanor can escape from her evil step-father is to be with park constantly with their romantic bond. Richie is an abusive alcohol dictator, who has complete utter control over Eleanor and her family. He ruins the only place in Eleanor’s heart where there is no suffering. Richie’s evil is clearly shown in the book through Eleanor’s Sabrina’s mom, with the quote, “ when it was worse than bed springs, when it was shouting or crying, they’d huddle together, all five of them, on Eleanor’s bed.” (Rowell’s Chapter 6). The scene is one of many where Eleanor is trying to comfort her younger siblings, who can hear everything going on, as Sabrina is being abused, physically, mentally, and as some would infer, sexually.
While Eleanor moved to her new school, Eleanor is faced with many destructive bullies that torture her throughout the book. As soon as Eleanor walks onto the bus on her first day of school, she is immediately judged as “Big and awkward.” As she struggles to find a seat, park takes notes that “the girl just looked like exactly the sort of person this would happen to.” Eleanor defines her gym class as “an extension of hell”, where the demon that is the attacking bully. “she had everybody else in their gym class calling Eleanor Bozo,” and covering Eleanor’s locker with pads with red marker on them were just some of the notable things that Tina did to make Eleanor’s life difficult. Tina is the “popular girl” at school, and her boyfriend Steve is comparable to the male equivalent of Tina. Park has known Steve since they were toddlers, but is not a fan of him. Steve leads the name-calling on the bus and when he wants something he usually gets it. Park’s sticks up for Eleanor by interrupting Steve’s chant about Eleanor with a flying kick, which gets both Park and Steve suspended. Rainbow Rowell gives indication of important symbolism, starting with the school bus, as that is where park first met Eleanor, and where he continues to defend her throughout the book. Park’s defense Eleanor when she faces bullies has a lasting impact on Eleanor’s incredibly low self-esteem.
Eleanor’s is plagued with the ‘low self-esteem’ virus as soon as she steps onto the bus, but with Park’s help she can escape it. Coming from a very poor, troubled family, Eleanor is like many of the kids in her neighborhood. The difference for Eleanor is that she doesn’t have anywhere to run to escape from her endless void. Home is terrorized by her evil step-father, Richie, school full of the demon that is Tina, and everything else that she ever had was left behind in her old life. The additional of emotional stress upon Eleanor was hard for park to handle, as much of the conflict was originating from his past, but he still tried his hardest to shake the anxiety troubling Eleanor. Park loves Eleanor, regardless of what she appears to be to the rest of the school. Simple things like Park letting Eleanor sit next to him on the bus gives Eleanor a sense of worth and value, which she is lacking in. An example of Park lifting Eleanor’s self-esteem is when he says that, ‘none of it matters now, it’s stupid,’ which while Eleanor didn’t take too well, was still Park’s attempt at helping Eleanor get past park’s past. Eleanor’s form of escapism through park is very evident and admirable, not only in fighting against her low self-esteem, but all fears that troubled her life.
Eleanor’s relationship and bond with park is very evident in Rainbow Rowell’s novel Eleanor and Park, and the author uses many literacy techniques to convey this. Eleanor is able to use Park’s help to escape from her bully step-father, Richie, the bullies that are in her gym class, and the ever-dropping self-esteem that is a product of all these things. Not only is park able to consciously help Eleanor recover from her difficulties, but many of the feelings and emotions Eleanor feels are able to block out negativity.