Joan Didion, author of “Play It as It Lays”, and “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, is pictured here on May 1, 1977.(AP Photo)
“It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw – not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
It’s odd how dreams are conceived and misplaced. Joan Didion’s first novel, Run River, was published in 1963; it’s the same year Sylvia Plath killed herself. Sometimes I think of how Plath’s dreams must have disappeared the day she decided to end her life and at the same time, somewhere across the Atlantic, Didion might have been reading proofs with notes from her editor; she was looking forward to realising a dream as someone else’s ended. I wonder how dreams die so suddenly, beyond the mental illness, something happens in society that breaks us. How did Didion avoid rejection and self doubt? Maybe she hid it beneath the cool girl aesthetic or she was stronger than the others? Plath didn’t live long enough to create the narrative she would have wanted. Culturally Plath will always be framed as the wronged housewife and poet who struggled to divide her time between writing and caring for her young family. Feminists often cite her as the victim of domesticity. Plath became a martyr for the feminist movement and many view her poetry is a symbol of the domestic struggle.
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