Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 1 Chapters 34 36 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 1, Chapters 34–36 | Summary

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Summary

Book 1, Chapter 34

Thanksgiving Day in America is approaching, and this year Luca Spaghetti's birthday falls on the same day. His main wish is to have a 20-pound turkey with all the trimmings, but Gilbert points out his belief that this meal could be prepared over a couple of hours is unrealistic. They compromise and plan to have roasted turkey breast and some side dishes, to be prepared at his friends' large home because they always host his birthday parties.

Gilbert's friend Deborah is in town to spend the holiday with her, so Sofie, Gilbert, Deborah, and Luca travel together to a big house in the mountains outside of Rome. Mario and Simona and their twin daughters are the hosts. Others are there, including Luca's girlfriend, Giuliana. It is a festive event, with many bottles of wine and lots of delicious food. Deborah, a famous psychologist, suggests they follow the American tradition of stating something for which they are thankful. Tears flow as everyone gives an emotional statement of gratitude. Deborah observes how respectfully the men treat their women and children, help in the kitchen, and are open about their feelings, commenting to Gilbert that "this country is doing very well."

Book 1, Chapter 35

Gilbert has gained 23 pounds since she left on her trip, and she needs to buy new pants in order to travel comfortably. She mocks herself in the store as she tries on successively larger jeans until she finds ones that fit.

Book 1, Chapter 36

During her last week in Italy, Gilbert decides to travel through Sicily. She figures this "most third-world section of Italy" might prepare her in some way for her upcoming experience of "extreme poverty" in India. Her first destination in Sicily is the coastal town of Taormina, and it is not easy to get to. She enjoys "the hands-down most amazing meal I've eaten yet in all of Italy."

The next day she travels to Syracuse. A meal there tops the one in Taormina, but Gilbert ponders the rightness of fine food in the midst of poverty and the evidence of violence she sees in Sicily. She gives readers an excellent snapshot of this part of Italy and its history with the Mafia (the organized-crime families in Italy). She shares famous Italian journalist Luigi Barzini's conclusion: amid a turbulent history, Italians have never lost their focus on and appreciation for beauty. It keeps them sane, happy, and civilized, no matter what.

Gilbert compares herself a bit to Italy and its national character in this final chapter of Book 1. She points out how much she has been healed by "the enjoyment of harmless pleasures." In an example of figurative language, she talks about her bigger size as "the magnification of one life ... an act of worth in this world."

Analysis

One aspect of Gilbert's progress toward a more balanced psyche during these four months in Italy she doesn't really comment on is her complete independence. For someone who seemed so needy, so emotionally dependent on men, to now be traveling freely wherever she wants, dining alone and enjoying it completely, and looking at the world—including herself—through clear eyes, is remarkable.

It's also worthwhile to note Gilbert's acknowledgment of how lucky she is to have been able to have this healing time. She says, "I also had the resources (financial, artistic and emotional) with which to try to work it out." Such statements help keep readers from feeling resentful, perhaps even skeptical, about her story. Since she is humble and thankful for what she is able to do, readers, too, can feel thankful that she shares it. By reading her memoir, other people can journey with her, learn her lessons, and perhaps experience some of her healing.

Gilbert is clearly satisfied at the conclusion of her time in Italy. This chapter of her life feels closed, and her first set of goals has been met. Now she and her readers can look forward to the next stage of her journey in Book 2.

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