Joan Didion's "On Self Respect"

Joan Didion's "On Self Respect"

The story “On Self Respect,” by Joan Didion was an essay in which she molds the idea of having self-respect as you grow. She talks about herself losing self-respect after not being accepted into Phi Beta Kappa. She eventually learns that a person with self-respect has courage about their mistakes. She also describes this process as a difficult yet necessary procedure into self-respect.

Joan Didion explores the meaning of self-respect. A person who has self-respect for him or her respects others. Respect comes in many different ways. It can be from how one person is taught whether while growing, earned or derived from family members. Didion’s essay shows us the may form of respect and throughout her writing she portrays various scenarios to define self-respect.

Throughout the first half of the essay Didion explains self-respect and how one can be stripped of it but also what self-respect is about. In paragraph four Didion describes that to have no self-respect is to just lie awake during the night and think about all the regrets we have and to blame our self as we lie there not able to turn off the voice in our head. Didion uses the allusions of self-reproach or self-deception in paragraph four. Paragraph five reads, “It’s our choice to sleep in the bed we make,” what Didion is trying to get across is that the bed we make is the future path we set.

Joan Didion says that she has misplaced her self-respect on day when she was 19. She said this day was when she didn’t get accepted in Phi Beta Kappa due to her grades. She thought of herself as “an academic Raskolnikov”. She learned that self-respect is a discipline, meaning that a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth. Didion learned “without self respect is to be unwilling audience of one to an interminable documentary that details one’s failing”.

Joan Didion opens her story with the following sentence: "Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters...

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