Lovein About a Boy
Theroad less traveled by M. Scott Peck
M. Scott Peck’s novel covers great topics such as the myth of love,romance, evil, and writer’s psychological and spiritual positionsas well as mental wellness. It is inspirational in an old fashion,putting self-discipline at the helm of the list of real life. Throughthe novel, Peck assumes that psychological and spiritual growths areinseparable, and development of maturity is a continuous process.
Peckexplicitly refers to falling in love in a psychiatric term “cathexis”such as being attracted to, investing in and committed to somethingthat is not attached to us. It shows how temporal when romance andfriendship are involved. Romance, attempts us to show our affectionsexually and propagate offspring’s luring us to marriage vows(Peck97). This psychiatric feeling wears off not only in romance butfriendship as well, after the loss we are presented with theopportunity to mature a genuine love, where he defines love as “thewill to extend one’s self to nurture spiritual growth of theother.” He states that love is not self-sacrifice, dependence orlust, but genuine until an action accompanies the feeling. Love toPeck is conscious attention, time investing, devolvement in nurturingothers spiritual growth as well taking a risk, such as opening theheart, even with the knowledge that the heart is likely to be broken(Simon, 69).
Genuine love is not offered withexpectations to come back, but afterenough use of energy and failing to obtain loving action and warmfeeling present, one`s energy needs to be conserved (Peck, 123). Hefurther notes that we cannot love everyone. We can have a lovingfeeling to humanity, but this energy can only manifest genuine loveto few people. An attempt to exceed our limits of our power, whileoffering more than we can, may lead to a point of no return. Harmingthe ones we desire to help. He concludes that loving someone whocannot benefit from your love is a waste of energy.
Through his approach to mental health discussion, he believes thatthe solution of difficulties is through developing a principle.People need to confront their problems rather avoiding them. Hefurther provides approaches for discipline. The methods includedelayed gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication totruth and balance. If they are used to confront pain according tohim, the final results are personal growth. Through his experiencemoving from Hinduism and Buddhism (the road less traveled) to abelief in Christian, all this shows the development of new realitiesas well as truth. Through his school life where he is quoted sayingthat he rejected his parents and church authorities displays anabsolute and objective truth. He further claims that everyone has tocome up with own truth through personal experience. He is displayedto be a person taking risks where he objects his parents at a tenderage as well a mysterious character from the way he changed thereligion.
With Pecks thinking he denies love to be sacrificial in nature.“Issue of masochism displays misconception of love that is aself-sacrifice. Whatever we do is because we choose to, and if wemake that choice it is our sacrifice. ” on the issue of religionScott has a belief that everyone has a religion, and it is necessaryfor spiritual growth, but one should not be religious dogmatic ontheir views (Leech,89). He displays a nondiscriminatory regardtowards religion when he notes that “there are numerous ways inreaching God, the key thing is being ready, and anything can speak tothem.”
The mystery of this author is displayed in his approach towards theBible. He claims to be a Christian since 1980, and the same timebelieves the Bible to be a flawed book. “The Bible is a mixture oflegend, some true others not, accurate history, and not so concrete,a combination of outdated rules and some fair practices, acombination of metaphors and myths.” For a person who takes theBible as a word of God detracts from it and openly views Christiansto either take it in a literalistic manner or accept it mythically. He is of the idea that heaven is open for all as God loves varietybut on the other side, he goes contrary to the notion of hell as aplace of judgment “I can’t accept the view that God punishespeople without hope and destroys souls without a chance ofredemption.” To the author, hell is here on earth and his fourthstage of mental development notes issues of mystical spiritualdevelopment. He writes that “mystics of all shades of religiousbelief have spoken of unity showing connectedness between things,between us and creatures and even inanimate matter.” He displayshimself as the Eastern spiritual world referred to as pantheisticmonism: one is all as all is one God is all as well we are God.Through the discipline sector, he portrays that absence ofresponsibility damages us as our culture puts freedom on a pedestalyet we have a natural willingness to embrace authority at the expenseof personal power.
This novel is rich with stories of real people, some displayingtransformations in life others refusing the change of straightforwardthinking. The road of spiritual life is enormous with peace of mind,freedom of real worry but deepened spirituality brings responsibility(Peck 185). There is a contrast with the author’s beliefs thatpsychological change is necessarily slow and cognitive view thatlimits can be removed if we know how. It forms fundamental divide inself-help literature that involves building character and discoveryof soul.
This novel explores the life of thirty-six-year-old, Will Freeman whoprides himself as “cool”. Will lives off the royalties of a songthat his father wrote nearly thirty years ago. The novel describeshim as committed phobic in taking responsibilities. He doesn’twork, and spends most of his free time smoking, watching televisionas well reading more of pop culture, as he leisurely enjoys life.Portrayed as a teenage thinker, he can do anything he wants and hasnever achieved anything with his life. A loner with few friends andlives in a dream world living through other people as shown in thenovel, he is seen developing, accepting responsibility and helpingMarcus become a teenager as well, turning to be a family man.
Will lives on an island of his own, having a flat in the middle ofLondon, thriving in own environment till his married couple friend’sJohn and Christine request him to be their second child’sgodfather. He bluntly refuses insisting that he is “shallow.” Inan attempt to avoid spending time with Christine and John, he meetsAngie, a single mother and after sharing a brief relationship withher, Will come up with an idea of attending a single parent group tomeet potential partners. His love for the single mothers who lessrequire much commitment and are much vulnerable as they are yet toget over their past relationships is seen through the ladies he isinvolved with in the relationships. Freeman displayed as opportunistcontrary to Pecks argument of love where there is the commitment toinvest energy towards one person.
In one of the single parents group (SPAT) meeting, Will meets Suzieand tries to court her. Through his pursuit, he takes her to one ofthe group’s picnic where they meet Marcus, son to Suzie’s, bestfriends. They both agree to take Marcus home after the event whereunfortunately they find his mother passed out due to a drug overdose.Will accompanies the group to the hospital but unsure what he isdoing there. This displays Will as irresponsible as he cannot offerMarcus any parental guidance. Over a couple of days, Marcus isdistressed by the fact that his mother had tried committing suicide(Hornby 19). He looks for solace at Wills house where he inviteshimself. Pressure increases at school as bullying increases, the boyneeds moral support as he is worried about his mother trying tocommit suicide come next time. Through the situation of Marcus, Willstarts learning to offer parental assistance as well starts showingresponsibility as he offers to take Marcus out one afternoon so as toease the pressure at home.
Marcus is determined to see his mother and Will being in arelationship together however, their differences are witnessed whenthey spend time together during the outing (Hornby 58). They havelittle to say to each other affectionately however, Marcus isdetermined to bring them together. In this plot commitment andinvesting of energy towards the people you love is seen. Marcus isnot ready to quit or lose energy towards the people he loves asportrayed when his mother warns him against visiting Will but insistson. His quest for the right to think right and think for himself isseen when he defies his mother’s refusal on visiting Will. Later herealizes thatWillcan’t marry his mother but remained to be hisfriend.
From the start of the novel Will remains mysterious in the contextof liar. He pretends to be ready for a committed relationship butwith time, he is displayed to only target the single parents. He goeson and invents a mysterious two-year-old son who does not exist inreality as well a former wife (Ruan, 769). His lies continue allthrough to the point of Marcus blasting out his lie about the son.Ellie, a tough fifteen-year-old befriends Marcus, and she isconstantly in trouble at school. The situation offers Marcus a rareopportunity in his life tolearn a few lessonsby himself. Both theseauthors happen to agree on one point that through our experiences oflove and life helps us to learn. The mystery nature of Will isfinally unmasked when he reveals to Rachel that Marcus was not hisson, and their relationship come to an ends. Lack of personaldiscipline by Will causes him lose someone he loved as he hadinvested a lot of energy and commitment. It affected Will to thepoint where it was impossible for him to help Marcus with the cryingmother (Hornby 78). Marcus through the love he had toward his motherdecided thatthe only way to help her was to sing at the schoolvariety show an act Marcus friend Ellie deemed suicidal. Will saysthat, “the only people that meant so much to him were Marcus andFiona, but Fiona was about to fall off the edge.” It is arealization for Will that his superficial character didn’t fulfillhim like before.
Towards the end of the novel Will crashes a SPAT meeting and througha show of responsibility as well love and concern, urges Fiona not tocommit suicide after realizing he was dating her friend. Fiona showsgrowth and mental maturity by implying that she was not ready tocommit any other suicide (Talbot, 56). She further discloses thatMarcus was going to sing at the school show. Through the lovedisplayed towards his mother, Marcus is not swayed by Will’s adviceof committing a social suicide. He risks going to sing a shrill, outof tune rendition of “killing me softly.” The audience tauntshim, but he is so determined to continue until Will joins on stagewith a guitar (Hornby 43). Another mystery of Freeman displayed wasan instrumentalist more so a good one, this was during Marcusperformance when he played the guitar. Will is portrayed asopportunist as he continued to play unnecessary solo so as to implyto the children that the performance was impressive with hisinvolvement rather than Marcus.
The novel ends during a Christmas festivities held in Will’s placewith Marcus, Rachel’s son Ali, Fiona and Ellie present. “Everyman is an island, but some men are clearly part of island chains.Below the ocean, they are connected” Will remark. This statementdescribed Freeman from the time he was a loner, lacking friends andbelieved in doing things alone. He later realizes the importance ofbeing connected with other people, sharing, and being committed toeach other implying a transformation. The presence of people in hishouse also shows him as welcoming and loving.
The novel shows Will Freeman as one of the characters that grow aswell changing he turned from his idea of living alone to having morefriends as well his actions from acting like a teenager to being aresponsible adult. Fiona as a character is used to indicate the issueof mind health. It shows how depressed people try out on working ontheir mind wellbeing, even sometimes to the extent of trying tocommit suicide. Marcus, on the other hand, is displayed as autistichence Hornby demonstrates that issue of mental health is like anyother aspect of life and common as other problems people face inlife. Conflict display within the book from Marcus going contrary tomothers warning against visiting Will as well through his family.Whereby, he can’t live the usual standards of family hencerelationship conflict. Hornby through the book shows development,caring and taking responsibility.
Hornby,Nick. About a boy. Penguin, 1999: 1-100
Leech,Geoffrey N. A linguistic guide to English poetry.Routledge,2014: 67-90
Peck,Morgan Scott. The road less travelled. Random House 2012:1-190
Ruan,Shuolun. "About a Boy."JAMA, 2008: 762-772.
Simonand Schuster,Further along the road less traveled: The unendingjourney towards spiritual growth. 1998: 70-97
Talbot,Margaret. "About a boy."The New Yorker, 2013: 43-65.