It is through the understanding of other people and our relationships with them that we come to understand ourselves and our lives. Discuss. "Tirra Lirra By the River" by Jessica Anderson.

Essay by iceemelon August 2007

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There are... things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

The quest for self knowledge is viewed as a long and arduous journey, a voyage that can only be achieved through the understanding of others and the relationships they hold.

The novel Tirra Lirra by the River explores the road to self discovery through the disheveled memories and reflections of an elderly woman named Nora. Lying in bed, recovering from pneumonia, Nora begins to delve deep into the "nether side" of her "globe of memory" where she gradually unravels more and more suppressed memories of her life. Every memory she exposes contributes to a greater understanding of Nora's identity and personal relationships which slowly build to an epiphany of self realization towards the end of the novel.

'Tirra Lirra by the River' is a fictional autobiography rich in self expression and literary devices.

The characterization of Nora is intensely complex therefore the author uses a variety of literary techniques in order to enhance the novel's meaning. These include: vivid imagery, metaphors, motifs, structure, contrast of language, tone, symbolism, allusion, and pathetic fallacy. The author Jessica Anderson clearly presents the importance of understanding relationships in order to understand oneself. Nora's relationship with her husband Colin, the Bomera Group, and her family are all defining factors in Nora's self discovery. As Nora realizes that her own opinions of life have blinded her from the truth, she must learn to separate her "real self" from her "imagined self" until she achieves self acceptance and understands the "ominous growled out question… 'Who does she think she is?'" (p13).

One of the most prominent relationships Nora experienced was with her husband Colin Porteous.