The “Eleanor and Park” novel by Rainbow Rowell shows through smart literary techniques how there are no challenges or hardships in life that cannot be prevailed over with as long as there is a strong and a firm loving relationship. For Eleanor, Park is somehow a shape of love to her, even if she never mentions it in front of him in the book. In life things can get hard and difficult for every kid, just like it did for Eleanor, but different from her classmates, she has no one to turn to when things get worse than they actually are. Her terrible step-father named Richie makes her home life horrible. Also, the same atmosphere dominates at school while she is always bullied around by her classmates Tina and Steve, and the buildup of evil in her life makes her self-esteem go down little by little. As displayed by Rowell’s sneaky use of literary techniques, Eleanor’s only protection in life is the place full of Park that’s in her mind. The troubles that Eleanor goes through as she moves to the suburbs may be horrifying, but with her courage and Park’s support, she is able to achieve these obstacles.
Eleanor’s romantic relationship with Park gives her space to forget and mostly escape the evil of her step-father Richie. In the novel, Richie is described as one of those offensive alcoholic dictators, who has absolute control over Eleanor and her family. He is a step-father that ruins Eleanor’s only place in her soul where there is no grief. Eleanor’s step-father evil is obviously shown in the book through her mother Sabrina through the following quote “When it was worse than bedsprings, when it was shouting or crying, they’d huddle together, all five of them, on Eleanor’s bed” (Chapter 6). This scene is one of many where Eleanor clearly tries to show comfort to her siblings who can actually see and hear exactly what is going on, as their mother Sabrina is being mistreated, harmed and abused in the worst ways possible from Richie. Park doesn’t really have the chance to meet up with Richie that often throughout the book until towards the end, but he makes sure he lets him know that he is disgusted by him. The last chapter is a scene where Park comes by Eleanor’s house and sees Richie come home all drunk. All kinds of wild thoughts go through Park’s head while he stands by him, like hurting or even killing him. Instead of actually doing what he was really thinking in his head, he actually sprays ice and dirt into Richie’s face. This scene is quite descriptive, and the author sets a lot of imaginaries in reader’s eye. Also, it expresses the technique of irony, portraying him a drunk and a mess rather than a dictator that he was. Eleanor’s hysterical home life is reliant on Park to assist adjust to Richie, but her school life knows how to be bad at times as well.
While moving to her new school, Eleanor had to go through many disastrous bullies that annoy her throughout the book. According to a National Public Radio article, it is described as “there is vulgar language about Eleanor’s body that’s hurled at her because that’s part of her battle; it’s part of what isolates her. It’s part of what makes her feel like she doesn’t know what to do, and like she doesn’t know who to talk to” (Holmes). For example, she is immediately called bad and awkward names such as “big” and “fat” as soon as she enters the bus on her first day of school. While Eleanor finds it hard to find a seat, Park notices that the girl just looked like exactly the sort of person this would happen to. Eleanor defines her P.E. class as an addition place of hell where this awful girl named Tina gives her hell while she bullies her and makes sure she makes Eleanor’s life a living hell. Tina is this popular girl at school who has a boyfriend named Steve who is the male version of her in every aspect. Park has known Steve since they were kids but he really doesn’t like him because of what he is. Park defends Eleanor and makes sure he interrupts Steve’s name calling towards Eleanor. Park publicly confesses that him and Eleanor are dating, which is an enormous show of courage to state that the girl who is repeatedly being bullied is your girlfriend. Later in the chapters, it is revealed that this is even a stronger sense of courageousness because Park used to go out with Tina, when he was only in the sixth grade. The author Rowell gives a sign of significant symbolism, beginning with the school bus, as that describes where Park first met Eleanor, and where he keeps protecting her throughout the book. The technique of character for Steven and Tina is combined perfectly, as towards the end of the book, they both help out Eleanor in finding Park. This clearly shows how they both are portrayed as bad kids, but they are no way near the evil that controls Eleanor’s life, Richie. Eleanor’s incredible low self-esteem has a lasting impact as Park defends her while she faces bullies.
Eleanor is overwhelmed with low self-esteem as soon as she hops onto the bus, but with Park’s defense towards her, makes it forgettable. Just like many other kids from her neighborhood, Eleanor also comes from a very poor and disturbed family. The difference for her is that there is no way for her to escape it. At home, her family is abused from her horrible human being step-father Richie, whereas at school she has to go through being bullied by Tina. Everything else that she ever had was left behind in her old life. However, the reason why Eleanor has a low self-esteem is not only Tina to blame for. After it was known that Tina dated Park, it is realized that that is the initial reason that Tina had been so unfriendly in the first place. This also started an unintended consequence for Eleanor as she started thinking why someone like Park would date someone like Eleanor, a girl who is repeatedly called awkward and fat. The additional stress that Eleanor had was really hard for Park to handle but he still tried to work around the concerns troubling Eleanor. This shows that he loves Eleanor, no matter how she is seen from the rest of the school. There are simple little things that give Eleanor a sense of worth and value which she lacks while she is with Park. For example, when Park tried to boost Eleanor’s self-esteem but telling her that “none of it matters now, it’s stupid” referring to her previous relationship with Tina. Eleanor doesn’t take it too well but he tries to help her get past his past with Tina. The use of literary techniques to portray Eleanor’s low self-esteem is very obvious. The use of mood and conflict is absolutely shown, especially when it comes to Park’s previous relationship, where Eleanor needs his help even though he is the main reason of this low self-esteem. Also, it triggers a lot of metaphor in personality, where Eleanor doesn’t actually have anywhere to go to, not even to Park. Eleanor’s form of preventing low self-esteem and all the fears that trouble her through her life is successfully done through Park.
The relationship and the connection between Eleanor and Park is very strong in the novel of Rainbow Rowell; the author expresses numerous literary techniques to deliver it to the readers. Eleanor can use Park’s help to prevent abuses from her controlling step-father, Richie, her gym class bullies, and the ever dropping self-esteem that is a creation of all these bad things that she’s been facing. Park is not the only one who is deliberately helping Eleanor recuperates from her problems, but a lot of the feelings and emotions Eleanor is having are competent to block out negativity. These feelings are a very good example of the literary techniques that Rowell has combined into the novel. Having a relationship is a very important thing to have in life. Love, it is all around us. Love is a part of everyday life. If relationships never happened you would not be able to tell the real person you are.
Holmes, Linda. “True Love, Book Fights, And Why Ugly Stories Matter.” NPR. NPR, 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor & Park. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016. Print.
Rowell, Rainbow. “Chapter 6.” Eleanor & Park, St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, NY, 2013, p. 27.