Autobiographical elements in joan didion’s in bed from the white album

Harris Kamran English Literature Analysis 12 April 2009 Critical Analysis: In Bed The essay, “ In Bed” is extracted from The White Album, a collection of essays by Joan Didion. In this essay, Didion vividly describes the sufferings of a migranous patient, narrating her own experiences as anecdotes while imparting facts. This paper examines the way Didion reveals aspects of her own personality while putting forward the signs and symptoms of migraine. After reading the essay, the three personality traits of Didion’s that become clear are that she is self-conscious, very particular about her writing, and that she has a forward-looking and a grateful character. These traits are discussed below with proofs.
While writing about migraine, Didion reveals that she is, or at least she was in her young age, quite self-conscious. Like many young people, she was conscious of the image she presented of herself to other people. She did not want others to know that she suffered from migraine attacks, nor did she want to display the accompanying mood swings and irritation. So she lied when asked about any medical conditions like headaches. In the essay, this is apparent where she writes that while filling out forms for colleges or scholarships, or for any such matters, she would write that she “ sometimes” had headaches in order to appear normal in public (The Bedford Reader 2005). With time, however, she outgrew this attitude, and learned to accept the frequent migraine attacks, and to be open about them (The Bedford Reader 2005).
Another personality trait that is obvious from the essay is the perfectionism that Didion possesses for her writing. She is by no means careless about her work, and take the pains of revising and re-revising her compositions before settling for the final product. On the other hand, however, she is not a perfectionist in general, as she herself admits in the essay, in her narration of one of her medical check ups. She admits that she has messy hair (The Bedford Reader 2005) and that her house is even messier (The Bedford Reader 2005). But when it comes to her work, that is writing, she is very particular about it. This is apparent where she says in the essay that she spends “ most of the week writing and rewriting and not writing a single paragraph” (The Bedford Reader 2005).
Towards the end of the essay, Didion reveals through her words that she has a forward-looking and a grateful personality. Throughout the essay, Didion describes the tough effects of migraine, and what a migranous person has to go through in daily life. Her description is very intense and vivid, and even a normal person feels the pain through her description. However, in the end, Didion writes that she has learned to live with her condition, and even be grateful about it (The Bedford Reader 2005). Furthermore, she writes that when the tough “ aura” (The Bedford Reader 2005) of migraine is over, she appreciates the nuances of life, and lives it with a renewed vigor. Undoubtedly then, Didion is a person who doesn’t succumb in front of hardships, but takes them up like a challenge.
Works Cited
X. J. Kennedy, MR X J Kennedy, Dorothy M. Kennedy, Jane E. Aaron. The Bedford Reader. The U. S.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2005.