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    Home is Where the Heart Is Essay

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    Many teenagers, at the age of 18, want to move out of their parent’s home and gain independence. However, I wonder if they have ever thought about the meaning of living at home. After I read “On Going Home,” by Joan Didion, I realized that, to her, home was a place where she spent her childhood. Furthermore, home was also a place full of memories with family, according to Chang-Rae-Lee, the author of “Coming Home Again. ” As an international student who has living far away from home for three years, I used to ask myself what was the real meaning of home to me, and finally, I recognized that home was everything to me.

    Home is defined by traditions of many different cultures, memories, affection, and forgiveness. According to Didion, home was not only a place for her to spend her childhood, but also a place full of love and peace when she came back after being trouble in her marriage. That led her to state that “Marriage is the classic betrayal” (1). She wrote that her husband didn’t like her family, because he thought her family “live in dusty house (he once wrote “D. U.

    S. T” with his finger on surfaces all over the house. Moreover, Didion’s brother, who didn’t understand anything of her husband, referred him, (in his presence, as Joan’s husband). That also led to a distinction between her and her family.

    She wrote “some nameless anxiety colored the emotional charges between me and the place I came from”(2). Even though Didion had a hard time spending with her family, she still thought her home as a place that she was born and spent her child hood with her family. Didion said that: “By home I do not mean the house in Los Angeles, where my husband and I and the baby live, but the place where my family is, in the Central Valley of California”(3). She also proved that home was the place where she enjoyed many happy memories. By opening the drawer, her childhood was recalled through a bathing suit she wore in summer when she was seventeen, through “A letter of rejection from The Nation”, through “Three teacups hand-painted”, and through her grandfather’s picture. Consequently, home was also the safest place for her after all.

    She said: “I go to visit my great-aunts We recall an anecdote about the relative last seen in 1948” (5). She was very happy and peaceful with every single moment she spent at home. As a mother, she would like to give her daughter a home like the one she used to live in, a home with family, with cousin, with river, with happy time like her. However, she wasn’t sure about that because now people do not live like before, and it made her upset. In “Coming Home Again”, by looking back from his mom’s death, Lee showed that home was a place where he had a deep relationship with his mom, and also was a place where the culture went to his bond through his mom’s traditional food.

    When he was young, he used to stay by his mom’s side. His mom used to learn how to cook American food, prepare food for him, and teach him how to play baseball. His mom also taught him about love lessons through some events, such as when Lee’s mom cook, she cut the short rib “the bond fell away, though not completely, leaving it connected the meat” and when he asked about that, his mom said “The meat needs the bone nearby. ” Through the food, Lee’s mom taught him that every member of the family needed each other, whatever happened to any member of the family, they need to stay by other’s side like meat and bone. At home, he could feel his mom love, as he said: “my mother could say no to me, and did often enough, but anyone who knew us-particularly my father and sister- could tell how much the denying pained her” (15).

    He also said: “She remind me daily that I was her sole son, her reason for living, and that if she were to lose me, in either body or spirit, she wished that God would mercifully smile her, strike her down like a weak branch” (15). However, nothing was perfect in the relationship between Lee and his mother. Lee still felt regret when he looked back some memories, such as when his mother asked him to call for the bank, he told her to call it by herself in an impolite way, or when he did not eat with her when she came on a picnic day with a lot handmade food. Lee hurt his mom without recognizing its consequence. Even though Lee had done a lot of terrible things, his mom just cried and cried. She did not blame him for anything, and was willing to give him all the best.

    She loved him until the very end. Besides, according to Lee, home was also a place where the culture went through his bone. Even though Lee had to study far away from home, he would never forget his culture. Because there was a very generous mother who always prepared a lot of culture food for him and helped him find his way back to his culture. When his mom brought food for him, he opened a container of radish kimchi, he breathed the smell of it all in. He said: “I ate and I ate, so much and so fast that I actually went to the bathroom and vomited.

    His mother was a firm bridge connecting Lee and his culture together. I’m an international student from Vietnam and have to live away from home. Therefore, home is not only a place full of good memories, but also a place that I’m in love. I miss my dad, a strong man, finally, couldn’t prevent his eyes burst into tears while eating on my first day leaving home. I miss my younger sister who always listened and shared good things to me even though we had to live far away from each other. I miss my mom who has called me almost every day just to make sure that whether I was doing well on everything.

    They showed me how much they cared about me. Like Lee, I also used to do some bad things to my family. Whenever I had problems at school, I always got mad with my mom. I talked bad about my dad behind his back.

    I had many conflict with my younger sister. However, beyond every mistakes that I had made, they still forgave me if I recognized and said sorry to them. My family helped me get better from my mistakes and helped me learn from them. Generally, both “On Going Home” and “Coming Home Again” stories helped me a lot on recognizing that home is full of memories, full of love, and happiness. Home is also a place where every member in family loves you for who you really are. Home is just a single word but contain many layers of meaning in it.

    No words can express how amazing home is and how it is significant to people. No place is better than home because home is the place where the heart is.


    Didion, Joan. “On Going Home. ” The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction.

    13th ed. Eds. Peterson et. al. New York: W.

    W. Norton, 2008. 1-3. Print. Lee, Chang-Rae.

    “Coming Home Again. ” The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. 13th ed. Eds. Peterson et. al.

    New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. 3-11.


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