The idea that a writer is selling someone out as a means to write may in fact be true, though the means in which they do this may also lead an individual to believe that they are not selling them out, but telling ones store through their own personal lends. We all poses a different lends from that of our friend, brother, mother, or neighbor. The way in which we perceive things is how we then tell a story as Didion does throughout her essays in, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. This idea is evident all throughout her essays.
One may see the way Didion “sells somebody out” as she writes about one of her childhood idols, John Wayne. She includes the fact that all others like her idolized him as well, “…John Wayne rode through my childhood, and perhaps through yours, he determined forever the shape of certain of our dreams.” p.30. Though, as she continues her writing, she continues on to deteriorate this idea of a god John Wayne is preserved to be through her eyes by humanizing him. She talks of how he has aged, unable to stay on sets for long periods of time without the aid of his oxygen tank. By then humanizing this character of her childhood that stood up as a god in her innocent years, she does not sell this character out, but allows her readers to see what she saw in the past in comparison to the present.
Later in her essays, Didion provided a better sense of our ideals and perceptions and why we say what we say, or write for that matter. In her essay, On Keeping a Notebook, Didion really emphasizes this idea. She goes on to admit that her writing isn’t always factual or how she was unsure as to why she would jolt such lines down. “In fact I have abandoned altogether the kind of pointless entry; instead I tell what some would call lies.” P. 134 In this essay, Didion is trying to explain that we all have our views on what is and what is not. She uses the practice of schema as she categorizes her stores, her experiences, her ideas. She does this by writing in the note book as stated earlier in On Keeping a Notebook. “But of course that is exactly it; not that I should ever use the line, but that I should remember the women who said it and the afternoon I heard it.” P.138. Then again, “(you see I still have the scenes, but I no longer perceive myself among those present, no longer could ever improvise the dialogue.)” p.140. This ability to recall what was done, said, and observes after reading such an odd statement within this notebook is amazing. It is amazing that our minds, which are malleable, are able to recall such things with such a fragmented trigger.
Didion explain why we do the things we do, why we act the way we do, and what factors into our opinions due to these influences as she artfully writes, On Self-Respect. Within Didion’s opening paragraph she writes, “…innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.” P.142. The idea of liking oneself plays a large role in who we are, and who we inspire to be. Though Didion, like many sociologist, believe in this idea of the ‘looking glass self’ where each one of us is on a stage preforming for all the others in our lives watching. We behave in a way that will bring forth approval from our peers, create a sense of acceptance. Yet we are all lying to ourselves. As we behave in these ways for all others to portray who we are, when in reality we are conforming to those around us, believing that we are all unique individuals capable of bringing forth our originality. Truth be told, we do thing such as dress a specific way, talk a specific way, and behave a certain way so as to continue this misrepresentation of ourselves to please those around us. ´On the other hand, we are peculiarly in thrall to everyone we see, curiously determined to live out– since our self-image is untenable—their false notions of us. We flatter ourselves by thinking this compulsion to please others an attractive trait”. p. 147. She is trying to have us understand that it is because of this that we speak the way we do, we act the way we do.
It is evident that Didion is not “selling somebody out” but is in fact telling a story through her perspectives. She is recreating the scenes from her malleable mind, pulling forth images, conversations, and her surrounds based upon the things she has written in her notebook. She is portraying the story as she recalls it, in the way she has internalized it. With that she displays to us, her readers, these stories of persons and locations to show the way things were during this time. How reactions where had at this time in her life, and how they might have changed her over time.