Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist (1985)

Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist (1985) is a novel about ordinary people who appear to be increasingly extraordinary as one learns more about their characters and their lives. 

The story centres on Macon Leary’s journey of personal development.  It begins by presenting him as being excessively introverted, too meticulously organised, and pessimistic.  It concludes with him becoming more open to interacting meaningfully with the places and people he encounters, which enhances the quality of his life. 

Parallel to this, Macon’s journey also involves him overcoming his depression that resulted from his grief over the loss of his son and subsequent broken marriage, a psychological condition that enhanced his already introverted nature and associated excessive behaviours.  The novel involved him finding a new relationship with a bright, mercurial, optimistic woman, Muriel, whose presence helped him to become able to love again. 

Anne Tyler seems to see the world in terms of dichotomies and compromises.  She seems to see all relationships as somewhat imperfect, but she believes that the most rewarding relationships are those where different people complement each other in ways that bring out the best in each individual.  Correspondingly, she implies that relationships that fail to do this should be reconsidered. 

Nevertheless, Anne Tyler seems to believe that all relationships involve compromises.  In each successful relationship depicted in the novel, each partner compromised to facilitate the formation of a viable and mutually satisfying bond. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

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The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: The Accidental Tourist meaning, The Accidental Tourist themes, The Accidental Tourist analysis, The Accidental Tourist notes