The Struggle For Identity In David-Neel's Journey

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Alexandra David-Neel is a person whose deep seeded determination and knowledge of Tibetan culture resulted in her arrival at Lhasa, a city in Tibet where at the time in 1924, foreigners were forbidden. Her methods to achieve her goal proved successful, but to the audience, things were left a bit unsettled by the end of the novel. The journey to Lhasa involved David-Neel and her adopted son, Yongden, as they traveled through treacherous terrain while risking their lives every step of the way. Several encounters into the novel, I began to wonder How is she doing this? Every page revealed a different layer of appreciation that David-Neel had for Tibetan mysticism and each step she took was a testament to her unshaken conviction. At one point, she exclaimed, “...I tore my hands and my face in the thorny bushes. I was dead to all sensation, stiffened, hypnotized by the will to succeed (pg.10).” That line shook me. After weeks of relentless traveling through harsh wilderness, hiding her true identity, David-Neel remained focused on her dream. It was almost as if she had a point to prove to those “Western” nations that forbade her from going to Tibet.…show more content…
The lives of Yongden and David-Neel depended upon this aspect of her personal. Her knowledge came in handy when choosing their disguises for the trek. She chose to have them disguise themselves as arjopas, “mendicant pilgrims who, all through the year, ramble in thousands across Thibet, going from one to another of its sacred places (pg.17). David-Neel referred to it as the best disguise because it attracted no attention to them, something very crucial as they came closer to Lhasa. Through this, the audience got a closer look at David-Neel. She mentioned how she loved how “free” she felt as an arjopa, and how it was a “blessed existence” living day to

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