Travel Experience and Epiphany
While many of the novels we read had elements of epiphany, there were a few that stood out the most. I think that the epiphany in Sputnik Sweetheart is perhaps the most unique epiphany that we read about. When Sumire realizes that in order to be happy with Miu, she has to seek out a part of Miu that no longer exists in their current reality. In many ways this relates directly to why most people travel in the first place. In many cases, travel is a tool for discovering another part of or way of life that is not evident in one’s everyday life. People travel to escape the banality of the day-to-day, and they go searching for something more. In Comfort of Strangers for example, Colin and Mary go to Italy to search for a new strength that will help them improve their relationship. They too, embark into an alternate type of reality, a reality parallel to their own that is only accessible to them because they are traveling.
The realization that Sumire comes to is life altering, not only for Sumire, but for Miu and the narrator as well. By seeking out something completely different and leaving behind everything she knows, Sumire leaves the people she cares about in the dark. They are greatly affected by her departure and go to great lengths trying to find her. The question is, was Sumire’s epiphany a good thing or a bad thing? Because we don’t follow Sumire on her journey, we aren’t really aware if she found what she was looking for, but we do see the damage her disappearance does in the lives of Miu and especially the narrator.
In The Comfort of Strangers, Colin and Mary experienced a moment that seems to help them realize a goal of their trip. Much of this class has been based around the idea of finding the authentic experience through travel. While in the bar with Robert, Colin and Mary “began to experience the pleasure, unique to tourists, of finding themselves in a place without tourists, of making a discovery, finding somewhere real…they in turn asked the serious, intent questions of tourists gratified to be talking at last to an authentic citizen.” (McEwan, 29) They manage to find a small sliver of authenticity amid the normal tourist culture, and while this is important in the story, what comes of this discovery is perhaps more pertinent. Later in the story, the couple realizes that their authentic encounter with Robert has actually caused a great detriment to their ability to completely enjoy their trip. They spent so much time searching for something authentic that once they found it failed to notice how dangerous it could be. The epiphany here lies in the idea that while authentic experiences are welcome, it is important to realize that the safety and familiarity of tourist experiences are indispensably valuable.