Epiphany in The Sheltering Sky
In The Sheltering Sky, Kit could be said to have an epiphany towards the end of the novel. After Port’s death Kit just wanders off until she comes across a pool and gets in. Kit’s bath in the pool is a religious type of experience, a sort of baptism. “She felt a strange intensity being born within her. As she looked about the quiet garden she had the impression that for the first time since her childhood she was seeing objects clearly. Life was suddenly there, she was in it, not looking through the window at it….As she immersed herself completely, the thought came to her: “I shall never be hysterical again,”” (Bowles 241). She lets go of her fatalistic ideas and decides to be in control of her own destiny. However, this experience of realization also seems to be about something else not quite describable. This epiphany seems to be about a shift in Kit’s view of life. After the bath she describes how she had always felt being unhappy was “a natural condition of life,” (Bowles 242) but had now found the joy of living.
Before this epiphany, Kit is unhappy and worrying and felt that she had no control over own life. She felt that “all she could hope to do was eat, sleep and cringe before her omens,” (Bowles 120). But after she emerges from the pool and goes into the desert she has a complete change of mindset - “instead of feeling the omens, she would now make them, be them herself,” (Bowles 263).
Kit’s realization probably occurred because of Port’s death. After his death when she is lying on the floor and she thinks that “these were the first few moments of a new existence,” (Bowles 230). The epiphany then inspires travel as she walks into the desert. She comes across a procession and goes with them. As she spends more time travelling across the desert with the natives, she lives in the moment opposed to before when she would worry about the future. “She did only the things she found herself doing,” (Bowles 270). She begins to have a relationship with one of the merchants, Belqassim and eventually lives with him. Then when she is dragged back to civilization she resists. Miss Ferry, the American consulate, finds Kit to look like a “partially Europeanized servant,” (Bowles 309). In the end Kit refuses to return to the civilized European world and stays in the more “uncivilized” world.