Educated is about of the struggle for self-invention. It is a story of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of relationships.
“You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them,” she says now. “You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”
This quote discusses a central theme in the memoir, family relationships. In this story, Westover loses touch with many members of her family, mainly due to huge differences of opinion. Although Westover loves her family members very much, she knows that in order to find her own success and happiness, she needs to let some of her relationships with her family deteriorate. As difficult as this is for her, Westover knows that her relationships are affecting her life in negative ways and ultimately causing her to have anxiety attacks. Westover, like many people who have lost touch with family members, understands that she will always love and miss her family members. However, Westover also knows that her life is better off without these relationships.
Another important quote from this story is this one:
My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.
This quote by Westover is essentially also about her family members, especially her father and one of her brothers. Throughout the memoir, Westover discusses how often her father was responsible for making decisions for their family. She mentions that her own mother took her father’s guidance without thinking much for herself. For example, when an accident causes one of Westover’s brothers to be badly hurt, her father refuses to let him go to the hospital to receive help, even when others knew that this was a horrible accident.
At one point, Westover is attending school at BYU and realizes that many of her opinions are the same opinions and ideas that her father instilled in her. She eventually realizes that these opinions and ideas are not based on anything educational and that, in order to create her own beliefs, she must use her own voice. She especially realizes this when her professors share information about World War II and the Civil Rights Movement, and Westover learns the historical truth of these events rather than her father’s thoughts on the events.
A third important quote is this one:
It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you.
Again, this quote relates to the relationships Westover has with her family members. For a large portion of her life, Westover lets her family make decisions for her. As she grows, she learns that many of these decisions were not for her benefit and actually caused damage to her. Some of these decisions ended in physical harm, but many ended with mental damage. Westover learns that she gave this power to her family members by allowing them to make those decisions for her without standing up for herself.
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