On his way home from his first year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter said this line to his friends, and that scene ended up having a huge impact towards the meaning of “Home.” My sister and I, both MAJOR Harry Potter fans, often find ourselves quoting this line from time to time. My sister quotes it when she watches the movies and reads the books because she feels like she is a student who always belonged at Hogwarts. Thus, to my sister “Home” means a place of belonging. While I would have thought the same thing, I have begun to question the meaning of “Home” more recently as I am exposed to different literature.
For starters, in the essay “Home” from Keywords, Home can be seen as a motherland. That made me question the meaning behind phrases such as “this is your new home now.” For example in the Kirsten stories, Kirsten, who came to America from her motherland, is forced to accept Minnesota as her home. Why would the characters, contrary to this definition, in the novel disregard their home of Sweden to embrace Minnesota? Having stayed in one home my whole life until college, I wouldn’t understand feelings of old versus new homes; however, I would assume that Kirsten’s family could believe they had two homes and wouldn’t need to nearly abandon the other. On the other hand, in Little House on the Prairie, why is it that Indians are forced to evacuate because their native home is not their home?
Keywords also brought up the fact that home is the center of family life, especially in our capitalist society. So what does that do for describing terms such as homelessness and mobile home. Does homelessness mean that they are without family or are without house? For example in the true story of Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, the children move on to achieve noble careers, yet the parents remained homeless in the end. Although the children tried to reach out and help them, they denied offers because even though they didn’t have a house, their children made them happy. Therefore it could be said that the Walls’ parents weren’t necessarily homeless- just without a house. (For a look at the Walls family relationship more clearly, here’s a video from a CBS interview a few years ago) And furthermore, it is clear that within a mobile home while you do have family, the only mobile aspect is the house. Thus when describing home as a source of family, these two terms carry impact into the difference between a house vs a home.
Today, we brought up in class that the keyword “Home” has two meanings: a domestic space and the feelings that are associated with that space. Evidently, in the girlhood novels we’ve read thus far, there has been more emphasis on the second meaning, feelings, to home. Homes provide familial comfort and safety to people, but I think there’s just too much of a confusion on the actual space. For example, a house doesn’t bring about a family, but a home does. I feel like anywhere and anyone you share those feelings with, a favorite classroom, a team, a special location on campus, can be considered a home. So at the end of the semester when I return back to Chicago, would I be going home or not really?