Strength can very easily be mistaken for weakness, in this book Eleanor and Park that is exactly what I did. She goes through so much and has to go through it alone. She has no one by her side. Everyone views life through their own eyes, through mine, Eleanor came off as weak person. We prejudge certain people just by viewing their actions but maybe if I would’ve waited and understood why she was the way she was I wouldn’t have labeled her that way. I made a mistake, by calling her wear, because by the end of the book, I discovered Eleanor is the strongest one out of all the characters.
The life she lives, the story we are told, Eleanor’s story is one not to be forgotten.
By reading you can tell she hates living in her home, she hates her stepdad more, she hates her life all together, but doesn’t give up on it. Eleanor faces judgement not just in her home but also out, she deals with emotion abuse and she faces it all alone. She knows her mother can’t help her, because her mother can’t even help herself. Her father is useless in her life, and does nothing but leave her in disappointment. The people she feels obligated to help her and be there for her the most are the people that can’t even count on.
All signs, all yells for help were pointless, she knew her parents, her siblings, were no place she will receive help. Eleanor witnesses a lot and she has no choice but to get through it alone. She has more strength than anyone realizes. She must witness her mother be abused and she can’t step in, she was scared, she was worried for her, but if her mother couldn’t help herself how could Eleanor. In the book they say “she woke up to shouting. Richie shouting… her mother was crying. She sounded like she’d been crying for a long time. (Rowell pg. 48)”, Richie constantly yells at the mother and emotionally breaks her. I know Eleanor must have wanted to help her mother so desperately. I personally relate to Eleanor in this situation, with my mother and my father, but I couldn’t step in sometimes it’s just better to walk away. In an essay, I wrote about this event I said “I love my mother…in reality I knew that she was hurting… how could someone who is broken herself help someone else who is breaking? ( Cruz pg. 4)” sometimes we do things to protect ourselves, walking away didn’t make me weak, Eleanor walking away not stepping in didn’t make her weak. Living with that guilt of not being able to help, not being able to protect the people we love most, hurts, but it made Eleanor a stronger person.
Eleanor’s relationship with her stepdad was completely nonexistent, but her siblings considered him a father, it was hard for her to accept that. She honestly had no choice, she never saw the good in her stepfather, maybe because to her there was no good. Not like he ever treated her very good. Eleanor tells park “my stepfather gets off on being mean. Especially to me. He hates me.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I hate him.’ (Rowell pg.115)”, she has that message in her head and every day she sees Richie she is reminded he hates her. Her relationship with her biological father is no better and as well nonexistent. He treated Eleanor and the rest of their siblings as if they were never born. A conversation she has with her mother, the mother tells her “your father is a piece of work.’ Her mother said. Every time, he breaks your hearts. And every time, he expects me to pick up the pieces.’…why do you want to go, ‘she said. ‘Why do you even care about him? He never cared about you.’ (Rowell of.88) it crushes Eleanor to hear those words about her own father, she had no care that Richie didn’t care but her own father made her hurt inside a little more. Once again I can relate to Eleanor. The feeling of knowing your father could care less about you sucks, but just like Eleanor I never let it break me. I kept my head high and moved on. I wrote “my father eventually cut me off. I didn’t even exist. If I asked him a question, he would say I’m not your parent, why you asking me? (Cruz pg. 2)” things like this do get you down but you have to be strong enough not to let it break you.
Eleanor goes through so much. She lives her life, goes to school she does what she has to do for herself. She gets through all the obstacles and challenges. She views life differently than others, only because the way she was raised. She prepares herself for hurt, for disappointment she feels she will revive in the future. That is no way to view life. To me Eleanor is still the definition of strength, her whole life as we all read was HELL!! But it didn’t stop her or push her to the point of no return, her mindset could have easily been like mine, which was out of all bad her good will come.
I underestimated Eleanor, her story isn’t exactly like mine but in ways I could relate. Her signs of weakness were signs of her true strength. She learned that there isn’t always going to be someone there for you, and it’s up to you to get yourself through the tough things in life. The choices she made, showed her true strength. Strength isn’t always muscles and how much we can bench press, in this case it was allowing herself to be weak so her true strength could come out.
Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor and Park. Great Britain: Orion, 2013
Cruz, Ana, Maria “worst can lead to the best” (2016):2-4