Just wrote this for my lit class, check it out.

The prompt:

In this module we’ve looked at two very different journeys, separated by time and space, but also by intent and purpose. What does a person’s journey say about them? Both Bashō and Candide return changed men, though in very different ways after very different journeys. What purpose does a journey serve in each of their lives? Can we characterize each man’s journey as a success or failure? Why or why not? Include two citations from the reading to support your reasoning.

My response:

“The Journey is the Destination”

When I was in the process of moving back to Cape Cod from Albuquerque I had to sit down and write an entrance letter for a couple of colleges. I wrote about the journey I had taken to get to that point (much of which I detailed in my Ice Breaker post) and I used an allegory that I felt fit myself fairly well. I likened the pursuit of my bachelor’s degree to the pursuit of the White Whale by Captain Ahab, I was determined to get to that point. I was (am) determined to have my satisfaction. The sheer knowledge that my elusive prize was still out there kept me going on my journey.

The biggest take away from anyone’s journey is their sense of resilience: what did they have to go through to get to this point? They probably learned a bevy of lessons from countless situations but it is the fact they went through all of those situations that is the first point of pride from anyone who has gone on a journey.

In regards to Basho and Candide, journey plays different roles in the development of their characters in each of their respective stories. For Basho, the journey enlightens him and teaches him about the different aspects of the world. For Candide, the journey tests him and all of the values he holds dear.

I’d classify Candide’s journey as a success and I believe that stems from the format of the story. In “The Best of All Possible Worlds” by David Wootton, Wootton explains how Candide is supposed to be read: “We should read Candide as an old man’s attempt to tell us what he has learned from life” (Wootton). I think the act of telling the story and having the resolve that the ending had, shows that the old man had some sort of success in his travels and wanted to pass that on.

I don’t know if I am able to readily distinguish if Basho’s journey was a success or not but it is clear that, by the end of his story, he wanted it to be over. The last bit of prose from Basho speaks of his exhaustion from the journey and the last bit of verse deals with a metaphor of a clam being ripped from its shell: “Clam ripped from its shell;/ I move on to Futami Bay:/ passing autumn.” (Basho). I see Basho as being very vulnerable by the end of the story and it doesn’t feel to have the same sort of moral as Candide did – even though there were lots of little lessons that Basho passed on throughout the duration of the text. I’d also argue, based off of the structure of the Haiku, he wants the journey to be over. The traditional syllabic structure of a haiku is 5/7/5 and this was 5/8/4. And while the structure of his haiku’s are not consistent throughout the piece, to have the last line of his story end shorter than traditionally speaking is a fairly big indicator that, by the end of his journey, he was having some sort of reservation about his travels.

Works Cited

Wootton, David. “The Best of All Possible Worlds”. Modern World Literature. Soomo Publishing. 5/21/2014. Web.

Matsuo, Basho. “The Narrow Road to the Interior”. Part 2. Modern World Literature. Soomo Publishing. 5/21/2014. Web.


One Comment on ““The Journey is the Destination” A look at Basho and Voltaire

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