The Fig Tree

ثمرة التين , fig fruitsEither my freshman or sophomore year I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. To a certain degree Esther’s mental illness was something I could identify with and the turmoil of my thoughts at the time often found companionship with her words.

Luckily, that time is behind me now but, there is still one passage that has stuck with me. I think about it often as I now attempt to figure out the next step in my life. It so clearly illustrates my feelings and my fears about that next step. I’m working towards figuring it out but, in the mean time I’ll share the passage with you:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.

From the top of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olypmic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.


3 Responses to “The Fig Tree”

  1. 1 Steve October 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Sometimes it doesn’t matter so much what path you choose, so long as you choose one. One thing Plath doesn’t mention is that in life you get more than one opportunity to choose. So pick one path and start down that direction. You can always choose another one later. If you don’t choose *something* all your choices may disappear while you’re waiting.

  2. 2 Antonella November 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    RIght. The tragedy of choosing. Yet, the only possible course of action.
    Cheers, Shannon!

  3. 3 Katie November 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Also, Slylvia Plath was pretty fixated on the idea of stagnation. Her constant attention to death reveals that she was more concerned with how each of these figs would fall, regardless of what they are. I agree with Steve that you simply choose a fig or many figs. I don’t think there’s really such a thing as “too late” when the present still is present.

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