'if we were just individuals it would be all right'
Reading Sister of the Road
is a truly wonderful experience. Every paragraph is a mesh of hope, philosophy, worldly knowledge, love, respect, kindness, and, most importantly, freedom. In one of the earlier discussions held in class, we tried to figure out why traveling with nothing in tow was a more authentic experience; why being poor was in a way authentic itself. Well, Sister of the Road
answers that question (and many more) in beautiful prose. “The rich can become globe-trotters, but those who have no money become hoboes” (Reitman, 13).
Out on the streets, on the road, a person is stripped down and left with only with himself. And there are so many just like him, with nothing. And we are all the same. And when we all look up, we are looking to the same sky. But most of all, we are all still people.
So many of the characters we encounter in Reitman’s novel are lost. They know what they want, but they can’t find it- so they wander. As long as they keep moving, as long as they keep searching, they know there is a chance that one day they will find it. I was sure that I had found what I was looking for on page 15.
“We found there thirty-five families, socialists, anarchists, and free thinkers, all opposed to was, weary of the struggle for existence, blaming capitalism for their difficulties, all wanting economic security and mental peace without too much effort” (15).
This sort of rhetoric reminds me of the hippie communes
of the 70s minus the drugs and the kool-aid
. Come to think of it there are hundreds of instances throughout history when people shared these very same principles and thoughts [as Boxcar Bertha] in their tired, desperation and came together to do something about it. These days, similar socialist ideals are considered naïve and unpatriotic. Our sheltered American lives are largely filled with days of ease and leisure, and to stray from that is to spit in the face of the opportunity handed to you on a silver platter. But what if I didn’t apologize for turning down a road of hardship instead of going to work for Wall Street? And what if I traveled across the country getting in cars with strangers, getting to know people- really know them- what would I find? Would I find a thousand stories that could spark this generation’s own revolution? I want to. And in the end when it’s all over, will I come home enlightened and ready to use my vast knowledge of the human experience to better the lives of those around me? Maybe only then I would truly arrive in a place of harmony, in sync with the country’s many faces.
"I had wanted to know how it felt to be a hobo, a radical, a prostitute, a theif, a reformer, a social worker, and a revolutionist. Now I knew" (199-200).