Monday, August 1, 2011

Reading History Part VII: The Revolution of Forever by Judy Blume

Part VII: The Revolution of Forever by Judy Blume

While I was reading Forever by Judy Blume, I couldn't help but wonder why Katherine's parents encouraged her to explore other options instead of just staying with her boyfriend for forever. While pondering that point, only then did I realize how revolutionary this book was for its time.

Let's say that Katherine's parents were born in 1930s. Twenty years later, possible around the time they may have become married, it was 1950s, the time of conservatism and encouragement  to marry soon after high school. Most likely that was the case for Katherine's parents.

So, one can't help but think that despite their happy marriage, both have regrets that they hadn't had chance to date or to be with many people. Perhaps they secretly regret becoming married so early. By my estimates, Katherine herself was born in late 1950s, if the story does take place in 1975. If it was a time of conservatism, then of course people will encourage marriage and being married straight from high school, and the generation before me was only starting to grapple with idea of free choice of becoming married. Before that time, women were called spinsters if there was a certain age they weren't married.

When Judy Blume wrote Forever...she seems to be speaking for the liberal time, of time of being unafraid to explore oneself and discover what and who you wanted. I would think that for women there was a time of shame they might have gone through if they had multiple relationships, or else lost their virginities before marriage. Unfortunately as a teenager I was the same way and didn't truly understand that having past multiple relationships was nothing to be ashamed of. I always got the idea that once you find somebody in high school or whatever, then that person is your soulmate. I now know better.

As I mentioned in the review, Forever, despite its message, is filled with fear and uncertainty from Katherine's point of view, which shows how strongly those ideas are ingrained within this society. The fact that I had these feelings in late 1990s up to 2000s, shows how long they lasted and are continuing to last. (Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga sets this idea of exploring self  back to 1970s or 1950s even!) I really do wonder if human beings are capable of writing a book similar to Forever that explores multiple relationships in finding a soulmate and having a few sexual relationships, a book that's sweet and tender, and does not have a vein or mention of Bridget Jones or Sex and the City stories.

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