A Love Found, Lost and Regained in the Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
“The Notebook”: Tragic or Not?
“The Notebook”, written by Nicholas Sparks, is a classic story of love found, lost, and regained. It is a beautiful and romantic story that have touched many readers. However, there are different opinions on whether it is a tragic story or not. With deep consideration, I agree on that the novel is tragic but beautiful. The reason why it is a story of tragedy can be listed as follows: the literary devices that Nicholas Sparks uses, which foil a sorrow atmosphere; pitiful secondary characters and the health issues Noah and Allie have when they are aged.
To begin with, there are many statements, which in favor of that “The Notebook” is not tragic but a hopeful story, seem convictive. Many believe that since Allie and Noah are together at the end, facing life and trouble together, being well taken care of in a retirement home and visited by their children once in a while, so it is somehow a perfect ending. Some advocates suggest that the “day and night” metaphor, which appeared towards the end of the story, is actually a symbolization that Noah and Allie are always connected. Moreover, even though Allie has a memory loss, she has always remembered Noah when hearing from the notebook, and yet, she remembered Noah without one at the end. Other points they had is that despite Noah has cancer, he has normal aging with a wonderful life. Although Noah is struggling against arthritis, stroke and heart attacks, the love between Noah and Allie always make him feel warm and strong, like a midnight bandit. Besides, Noah is not frightened by death for he thinks it is a natral progress. In general, such arguments appear persuasive at first.
Nevertheless, a deeper investigation to the literary devices the writer used reveals that it is more appropriate to say that the book is tragic. First, reviewing the poems that appeared in the story, which are quotations from Whitman’s Poem, evidences are found to prove it is tragic. For example, one of the poem Noah reads to Allie: “Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you, not till the water glisten for you” (157) shows that death is a feeling of incredible loneliness. Next, the “day and night” metaphor mentioned: “I know what is like to be day and night now; always together forever apart.” (176) symbolizing that Noah and Allie are forever apart, which is a tragic ending. Lastly, examining the “reincarnation letter”: “ one can learn that Allie and Noah are always forced apart. Yet, they were star-crossed and never can get together. To summarize, by analyzing literary devices that the writer uses, it is fair to say that the novel is tragic.
Then, a quick look at secondary characters also demonstrates the work’s misfortunate aspect. First, despite claims that the two protagonists finally have a happy life together with four children, they have lost their four year-old son. When Noah is reading the letters that he has sent to Allie over years, he remembers his dead child who resembled his beloved, “It is a terrible thing to outlive your child, a tragedy I wish upon no one.” (171) He thinks the worst thing a parent can ever undergo is to lose his or her own child to death, he would surely trade his life for his son if he could. Then, the dying of Fin, Noah’s best friend also makes the text a tragedy. His death is harsh, since his destroyer was torpedoed in the war; it makes the protagonist thinks of him a lot and sometimes blames himself for making his friend join the battle. Next, another character that plays quite an important role in the love story also has to sustain a big lost in his life. Lon, Allie’s fiancé before she comes back to Noah, has to let the only woman that he has ever wanted to marry go. In the letter that Noah sends to his wife, he also acknowledges that Lon is a good man, “He behaved as a gentlemen would, and I understood then why your choice was so hard.” (174) When Allie firms she cannot go back to Lon, he knows that he will not be able to keep his love and accepts the truth that he has lost her heart for Noah; he respects her and this helps making it a very hard decision for Allie to leave him. Furthermore, doctor Barnwell, who helps the couple in the last years of their lives, does not have real happiness. He is alone, according to Noah, too busy with his work and taking care of his patients that he cannot be with his own family. Indeed, the circumstances of minor characters give the work a dark sense. (PN)
Finally, health issues cannot be ignored when considering the tragic side of the book. During the late years of his life, Noah is tortured with some physical illness: cancer, arthritis, stroke and heart attacks. A stroke almost brings him down, as the doctors predict, “[They] could be serious, especially for someone his age, and the consequences could be severe.”(198) which reveals that it is very dangerous. He still can hardly walk and control his own body after he leaves the hospital and this inhibits him from coming to his wife, ageing to him is a big obstacle then. Furthermore, the major problem that suffers both of the protagonists is Allie’s psychological disease. It not only takes away a lot from her but also makes Noah despondent from the first time he hears the heart-breaking news from Dr. Barnwell, he observes, “[Alzheimer’s] is a thief of hearts and souls and memories.”(167) This demonstrates how depressed the husband is when he realizes he is going to lose a part of his wife to a degenerative brain disease; she will forget her love for him and everything that they have had together. In addition, some might say the couple finally has a happy ending together since Allie remembers Noah without his reading of the notebook. However, it will be the same as a few times before, she will forget him again afterward, and the situation can only be worse to him. Clearly, the physical and psychological ailments have made the novel seems dark. (PN)
In conclusion, The Notebook is a pessimistic work, which is clear when examining the literary devices used, secondary characters and health problems of the protagonists. First, from the poem of Noah’s favourite poet to the “reincarnation letter” that he sends Allie, the story is demonstrated to be filled with loneliness and separation of the couple. Then, what happens to each of the minor characters helps revealing the book’s desperation. Finally, although the wife remembers her husband sometimes, but she will forget how much she loves him and all the memories that contain their moments together, which makes Noah alone in the end. (PN)
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