In the novel How To Be Good by Nick Hornby, Katie Carr is torn between being good to herself or to the world around her; the decisions that Katie makes may be good in her perception, but they can bleed through as selfishness as well. Selfishness is labeled as performing actions for oneself in order to please one's inner greedy self. There is much to question about the true intentions of "being good", and how the personal definition of "good" can rapidly transform into an act of subconscious selfishness.
Katie's mental stances in this novel send the message of inner frustration with her husband, David Carr. Katie describes her blunt feelings for how she perceives her husband through her thoughts in bed, "When David's asleep, I can turn him back into the person I still love: I can impose my idea of what David should be, used to be, onto his sleeping form, and the seven hours I spend with that David just about gets me through the next day with the other David" (11). This emphasizes how uncomfortable Katie feels around David. Katie cannot derive the inner peace from herself to deal with her husband on a daily basis because she is being true to herself; however, by not seeking to find the coping skills necessary to live with her husband in harmony, she may be selfish by holding onto her unique self instead of conforming to the lifestyle around her. Katie desires to find spark in her life, and she pursues this craving.
In order to find her own excitement in the world, Katie seeks to find other places to stay for a little while to escape her family lifestyle. Katie uses her friend's flat while her friend is out of town. She explores things that make her happy and relaxed again, such as indulging in books and increasing her musical horizons. Within those moments of personal freedom, Katie begins to think about her children during her stay, "...I have woken most nights since then at 2:25 A.M.precisely, feeling bereft and...
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