The Meaning Of Life In Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays?

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For some people, the meaning of life is to be a good parent. When a parent loses a child for a moment or a lifetime, the pain that comes with is unbearable. Some people lose control of his or her entire life due to the loss of loved ones. The ability to gain control over life is tough because of the emotional and sometimes physical obstacles. While there is a meaning to life for some people, others feel as if there is no hope to live after losing a child. In Joan Didion’s novel, Play It as It Lays, Maria exhibits a lack of identity and the struggle to regain control over her life is shown through her journey to be with her daughter Kate. While many people would have given up hope during difficult situations, Maria does not because she has…show more content…
Since she is alone with no one to tend to, she has plenty of free time on her hands. For example, one way of Maria filling her time is to drive on the freeway. Readers can assume that Didion chooses to use the freeway as a symbol of escape after the abortion. Maria treats the freeway as if it were a job, this is shown when the narrator says, “Sleep was essential if she was to be on the freeway by ten o’clock” (Didion 17). Although she has no plans to go somewhere, driving gives her the ability to keep busy and escape the thought of her recent abortion. This is shown when the narrator says that “sometimes at night the dread would overtake her [Maria]…, but she never thought about that on the freeway” (Didion 18). The psychological effects of having an abortion are sometimes difficult. It only makes it harder for Maria to deal with her life knowing that the little things she does have control over, really do make her life…show more content…
Unfortunately, Maria is constantly aware of the children missing from her life and is border-lining depression. Didion shows readers many symptoms of Maria’s depression throughout the novel. For example, the narrator says “When she got home she thought about calling him [Les Goodwin], but instead she went upstairs and lay face down on Kate’s empty bed, cradled Kate’s blanket, clutched Kate’s baby pillow to her stomach and fought off a wave of the dread” (Didion 23). It is obvious that Maria is depressed; however, she cannot confide in anyone. She cannot confide in Carter because he is emotionally distant nor can she confide in her lover Les Goodwin because he is a married man. Thus, leading to Maria becoming self-destructive and unintentionally seeking an identity. For example after a party, Maria “was stopped for speeding outside Tonopah and when the highway patrolman saw the silver dress and the bare feet and the Ferrari registered to someone else” the officer found out it was indeed stolen ( Didion 154). Didion creatively shows readers that Maria is acting out unintentionally because of her lack of control over life. In fact, someone who was in his or her right mind would have not stolen a car from a famous person like the one Maria did. The people in Maria’s life Maria’s notices there is a problem and start to worry about her well-being. This is shown when
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