The Road to Mecca is the story of Helen, an artist trying to survivor in an isolated community, and her two friends; Marius, the local Minster and Elsa, a progressive school teacher from the city. Helen is feeling alone and unable to complete her work, in a state of depression, she writes a letter pleading for help to her long time friend Elsa, Both women have much in common; both are rebels against social conventions. Elsa teaches radical material to her colored students, and Helen’s exotic artwork defies traditional notions of art encompassing her entire house and garden, this is her own homemade Mecca. On arriving at the house, Elsa discovers Helen is desperate for someone to help her renew her faith in herself. After a series of accidents around the house the local Minster, and good friend, has decided to try and convince Helen to retire to his church’s home for elderly. In one evening, friendships are challenged and beliefs questioned as they confront themselves and one another. Convinced that Helen his unfit to live by herself, Marius tries to manipulate and cajole Helen into moving into the retirement home. Elsa on the other hand praises Helen’s freedom and individuality claming that Helen is “the first truly free spirit I have ever known” In the end the friendship of the women triumphs in a reaffirmation of friendship and love reconciling differences.
As I begin to discuss Helen and Elsa relationship I can’t help but feel all of those bitter and sweet feelings of a deeply intertwined marriage. Theses two women are definitely in love, it is not a romantic love, and it is more of a family style love. This leads me to believe that before their paths crossed, they were both longing for the same thing. Everyone knows that all human beings need to be needed and if they are not needed they lose their desires for life. Helen and Elsa need each other. They also love, respect and admire one another. It appears that both of these women might have had once experienced the loss of a love one and their relationships symbols the return of that loss.
The feelings associated with both of these characters and their relationships are feelings of love, fear, loss, abandonment, attachment, rejections and I can probably go on and on.
It is my belief that to attempt to deeply understand Helen and Elsa would require this entire paper to be devoted to that and as you very well know there are other issues to be discussed here.
The book gives very little information on who these women really are and where they come from. Let’s look at Helen. Helen appears to be a middle age women approaching her elder years quickly. It seems that this woman had a husband of many years who was her life partner. He died and her life changed forever. Did she resolve her issues with her husband’s death? Did she have any children? What happen to her parents and siblings if any? Before meeting Elsa how did she come to be so lonely and alone?
Now let’s take a look at Elsa. She is a younger women maybe 30 or 40 years younger than Helen. The only thing we know about Elsa is that she is a teacher. It is not stated here weather she had children, a husband, or any family relationships. Before meeting Helen was she lonely and alone? I can begin to see the attachment they would have for each other.
One of the most outstanding metaphors that Helen describes is her fear of darkness, it appears that this fear was originally a child’s normal fear of being in the dark. In some way Helen has carried this fear all through her life. She relates it to her mother leaving her alone in the dark, growing up and becoming mature enough to have her own candle, and some traumatic event that happened, was it the death of her husband? This darkness has traveled with Helen right up until the meeting of Elsa. In Helen’s mind Elsa has the potential to light the candles again. However, at this point in her life Helen is too afraid to let her.
For Helen her...
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