Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 2 Chapters 70 72 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 2, Chapters 70–72 | Summary

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Summary

Book 2, Chapter 70

This chapter presents Gilbert's musings about a very big topic: the purpose of religion. She believes that all of the world's religions share a common goal—to find a magnificent idea that will take one to the eternal. People follow rituals because those practices are known to have taken religious leaders to the longed-for place or state, and others want to go there too. However, when the rituals themselves become the goal, all is lost.

Gilbert believes that the path of religion should be individual, with people moving toward the light "in any way whatsoever" that works for them. She also believes that the focus should be internal, not on the world. As her friend Sean explains it, "the hub of calmness—that's your heart. That's where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers in the world."

Book 2, Chapter 71

Gilbert writes this chapter on her final night at the ashram. She decides to stay up all night meditating. It's now easy for her; she has "become a prayer." She comes out of meditation right on time to meet her taxi. She bows before the picture of Swamiji and slides a paper under the carpet in front of it. She has written two poems: one completed after being at the ashram for a month, and one written that day.

Book 2, Chapter 72

This chapter comprises Gilbert's two poems. As she says at the end of Chapter 71, "In the space between the two poems, I have found acres of grace." The poems show her growth. "Got it yet, Liz?" asks a line in the first. In the second, she tells how much she has prized every part of the journey. Yes, now she does "get it."

Analysis

It's not clear exactly why Gilbert writes Chapter 70. Is she clarifying her stance on these big issues for herself? Is she defending her need to pursue her spirituality exactly as she sees fit? Is she assuring people that she will not judge them if their spiritual path is completely different from her own? Whatever her reasons, the chapter is another example of the clear prose Gilbert is capable of writing, and of her self-deprecation. Then, in Chapter 72, readers see that she is also capable of writing fine poetry.

These structural decisions reflect Gilbert's versatility as a writer. Many readers forget that she started her career as a journalist, and Chapter 70 reflects a journalist's understanding of a complex topic. It also foreshadows the sort of insightful bird's-eye-view style of nonfiction that has made Gilbert famous, as someone who can take a topic like religion and transform it into something clear, relatable, and entertaining within just one short chapter. It is as though she hovers above complexity, and, seeing it for all that it is, distills it into the most important chunks for readers to consume.

Gilbert's inclusion of two poems further demonstrates her versatility as a writer, as well as her love of language. The power of language is a central theme of the text, and it is not surprising that poetry would appear in Book 2, as much great poetry has been written about and in pursuit of spirituality in India. The two poems amplify the beauty of the spiritual quest Gilbert details in Book 2.

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