First off I do want to say that I empathized with Orwell in his loathing of classical studies. I am in Latin right now and it is the most stressful thing that I have in my life at the moment. I’m attributing all of my physical heartache to that.
The sentence that I found most captivating was the sentence that he wrote about himself: “Even a creature that is weak, ugly, cowardly, smelly and in no way justifiable still wants to stay alive and be happy after its own fashion.” This sentence seemed to ring truth, and I find anything that has that clear ring to it to be appealing. There are horrible truths as well, and sad ones too. Not all truth is happy, and joyful. I think that was my understanding for the longest time. It’s true that . . . well I was about to offer some truth that sounds depressing, but I don’t think that truth is so easily spoken. This is why I love the personal essay. Truth will pop up ever so often and when it does we get to see all the surrounding grit that it took to unearth the piece. Such is the case with Orwell’s sentence. He writes this from personal experience. And I think of all my inadequacies and short-comings and think the same thing, even a person that is so caught up in becoming something, someone that is sickly and white, someone who has squandered his youth, still seeks to be happy. I think that happiness is the natural pursuit of any living thing. Life naturally seeks to be happy, although I can’t speak for the animal, yet I think that any one of us has felt like an animal at one point or another in his or her life that we can still attest to the idea that life seeks to be happy. Even the disgusting cockroach is seeking to be happy after its own fashion, just as the slimy toad or serpent or smelly rat are seeking after their own in their own. I guess what this, as it dawns on me now, sentence has done for me is introduce an empathetic strain between myself and anything else that is living. I can now understand the cattle and the fly and the man who wanders our neighborhood, all of which are seeking happiness in their own accord.