HomeLiterature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 1 Chapters 28 30 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 1, Chapters 28–30 | Summary

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Summary

Book 1, Chapter 28

After her acknowledgment of her happiness in Naples, Gilbert starts thinking about her relationship with David, deciding it might be time "to end our story forever." As she reflects on how she and David just can't seem to be together without disappointing each other, she reveals some details about the relationship between her own mother and father. Her parents' marriage is far from perfect, yet they have stayed together, and her mother has admitted to Gilbert that she still loves her father very much—even though he has always been regularly emotionally absent. Gilbert wonders whether committed people stay together no matter what.

Ultimately, Gilbert decides to send an email to David suggesting that they end their relationship for good. She keeps it kind and simple, and she gives him her blessing to look for another partner. Almost instantly, she regrets sending it and hopes he will beg her to come back. His response does not do that; he confirms what she has said, writing "we are not what the other one needs." Gilbert falls to pieces.

Giovanni calls because she has missed their regular language exchange meeting. He comes to pick her up. When she breaks into racking sobs as soon as she gets in the car, he is sweetly confused and concerned. When she tries to apologize for crying, he comforts her and gives her tissues. He drives to a beautiful fountain and parks so they can talk without being in public. When she can finally speak, Gilbert that "it's about a love story, Giovanni. I had to say good-bye to someone today." His response is purely empathetic: he sits silently beside her until she cries herself out, and then he says, "I understand, Liz. I have been there."

Book 1, Chapter 29

Gilbert's older sister, Catherine, arrives a few days later. Gilbert has always been somewhat in awe of her. On this trip, Catherine is characteristically organized for a tour of Rome; she is also training for a marathon, so she runs for miles daily. Gilbert sees Rome in a new way while Catherine is there because they have such different perspectives on life, even though their love for each other is obvious.

Book 1, Chapter 30

Gilbert's musings about the differences between her life and her sister's continue after Catherine leaves. In this chapter Gilbert mostly focuses on Catherine's decision to have children and her own reluctance so far to consider parenthood as an option for her. Her ex-husband blamed her attitude on what he perceived as her selfishness, but she came to understand the main reason for her feelings was her unhappiness in the marriage, and this contributed to her divorce.

Gilbert finds the most comfort in her writing. She doesn't mind people thinking she left her marriage for her art even though that is not exactly true. She is also proud that she has started to live her own life. However, she knows she must soon stop traveling the world, stop storing all of her possessions at her sister's, and "become a more solid citizen again." She's just not ready yet.

Analysis

One of the strengths of Gilbert's memoir is her ability to make her own experience seem universal. It is human nature to want to be desired and loved: who hasn't hoped, upon breaking up with someone, that the person would act as if he or she cannot live without you? Who hasn't thought about one's upbringing at the most critical junctures in life? What person with siblings hasn't wondered how they could come from the same parents and be so different—yet felt a loving bond unlike any other love?

Perhaps one of the most touching moments in the memoir is when Giovanni is able to respond with an idiomatic English phrase—"I have been there"—that Gilbert had previously taught him. It's an example of certain words and phrases Gilbert mentions casually cropping up again later in meaningful ways.

Gilbert again juxtaposes emotional highs and lows. These three serious, reflective chapters end with some moments of pure hilarity based on Gilbert's typical self-deprecation. She mocks herself as the odd member of her family, with her stuff in a top-floor bedroom at Catherine's house that they have named "The Maiden Aunt's Quarters," and for her strange statements to young children about their astrological signs. She worries she might come to be known as "Crazy Aunt Liz" and gives laugh-out-loud descriptions of what she could become.

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