Remember The Past And Then Remember To Carry Hope

In Memory of Love, I believe that there is a connection between memories, hope, and change. A passage that stuck out to me was during the moment when Saffia mentions that Julius wanted her to finish her studies and that is why they did not have a child, and Elias says that she is still young: “One word. Yet so much more. She had said yes. Agreed her life was not over. I looked at her. I was consumed by a feeling of inexpressible joy. Only later did I recognize it for what it was. Hope. For in that instant the beauty and pain of the past, the unbearable present and the possible future all ran together” (269). That last line about the past, present, and future makes me think about how one’s being is filled with these past events that cannot be changed, and those events all add up and lead to the present moment. The words spoken or actions taken in the present determines the future. And the present moment becomes the past in the blink of an eye and the future is now here.

It sounds confusing, but when you think about it, the past, present, and future are indeed running together. They create this collective story, they are what bring about change, and change relies upon one’s memory and a feeling of hope. I do not believe that one must entirely forget the past in order to move on. I think that if one carries hope with him or herself then he or she will realize that there was this one good or evil that has happened and now it has supposedly ended so a new beginning must take place.

I believe this idea speaks to Elias Cole’s character because of his need to record the details of his life. To me, he not only is afraid of losing his memory, but he also just seems to want to hold on to every instant of his life and that prevents him from truly living it. That sounds incredibly cliché, but I think we all agree that Elias Cole just gets in the way of himself being the creeper he is. And while in the passage I have pointed out, he seems to have hope, he is still holding on to the past. In order for a change to truly happen, one cannot cling to the past and carry hope. Another character that I believe these ideas speak to even more is Kai Mansaray. I remember the scene when Lansana gives Kai a ride on the day of the coup, and Kai observes that Lansana’s eyes were flat, almost without expression and it was due to the absence of hope. I think Kai had an absence of hope himself in Memory of Love because he was so entangled in his memories, in how everything used to be, that he did not allow himself to believe in any sort of change for a while. He sort of became lost in his job just to distract himself from his memories that hope for anything became lost as well.

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Posted on October 24, 2014, in Memory of Love. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I want to comment on your note about a “collective story.” Just as you said the themes of hope, change, and memory are dependent on one another to form a collective story, I think each characters’ story is dependent on that of another characters. Chimamanda Adichie introduced us to the “danger of a single story,” and I think that Forna is avoiding that danger by making the story of each of these characters dependent on one another. We are not given just one picture of Sierra Leone, instead we are given many to help us paint a picture of how complex each of these character’s lives was at this point in history.

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