Jonathan Livingston Seagull


Introduction
Richard Bach, an American author, published an impressive book in 1976 that has captivated a worldwide audience ever since. Have you done reading it? The storey of Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an easy one, but it has a powerful message. The message is that we are all capable of much more than we believe or are taught. God – or luck, if you like – is on the side of the brave, the adventurous, and the free-spirited.

About the Author

Richard David Bach is an American author and pilot who was born on June 23, 1936. In 1970, Jonathan Livingston Seagull published a novella. A Gift of Wings (1974), Illusions: The Adventure of a Reluctant Messiah (1977), and other works of fiction and non-fiction about flight have been published by him. The majority of his works are about aviation, demonstrating his intense interest in the subject. The majority of Bach’s novels were semi-autobiographical, using both real-life and fictional incidents to explain his philosophy. Bach’s books are based on his belief that our physical limitations and death are merely a matter of appearance.

Summary

The novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, is a story of a seagull’s journey who aspires to fly faster and higher than any other seagull. Trying to be different from the Flock and in the desire of flying faster and higher, Jonathan is banished from the Flock while the Flock adheres to the coastlines and the fishing liners. From this point, his spiritual journey begins.

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The novella has been divided into three parts. The first part deals with Jonathan’s recognition of himself to be able to fly faster, higher and lower than any other seagull of his Flock. After achieving one goal, he goes for the second. However, his Flock, as well as his mother, wants him to be a normal seagull. Yet, something was motivating Jonathan from within to be more than a normal, typical gull. He recognizes his potential to accomplish more and he wishes to fly above the clouds recklessly. Eventually, his Flock casts him out because of his unusual adventures, deeming him an outcast.

At the end of part one, Jonathan meets a pair of tanned seagulls. They take him to a place where all the other seagulls practice flying like him. All of them introduce themselves as his brothers, together flying off into the sky that is “perfect dark”.

Jonathan, in the second part of the novel, believes himself to be in heaven, realising that he is flying more easily and higher than ever before. He lands on the beach with the other gulls as his companions leave him. He meets Sullivan, a magnificent gull. Later, Jonathan works with this magnificent gull, who teaches him spirituality lessons along with flying. Sullivan tells Jonathan that he’s a “one in a million birds” and explains how the birds arrived at the beach. In the end, Jonathan meets Elder Gull, Chiang.

The idea that whenever you’re looking for something, that thing comes to you, is best explored in the novel. When Jonathan is looking for a teacher, the teacher is there for him; whenever Jonathan is trying to do something new and ready to do it, he comes – whether it’s his chance to work without the Flock or his need for a spiritual teacher.

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In the third part of the novella, Jonathan begins to teach Fletcher Seagull, accepting him as a student. Some outcast seagulls also join them while they have their flying lessons. He reassures his students to fly back to their Flock beach, realising that he has to go back to his Flock. At the end of the day, the Flock that abandoned him earlier begins searching for him to learn from Jonathan and his student Fletcher. They both demonstrate their skills and gradually the members of the Flock begin to take part in the lessons. Jonathan, however, goes too far in encouraging Fletcher to fly too high and too fast, which causes Fletcher to crash into a cliff, but he does not die.

Shocked, the Flock sees Jonathan as a devil and tries to kill him. After the misadventures, both Jonathan and Fletcher argue about love and conclude that seeing good in everyone is real love. Jonathan disappears after realising that he no longer needs to be a teacher, and lets Fletcher continue his work. Jonathan’s physical and spiritual growth is evident in the novel, which enables him to forgive the flock that had abandoned him and also to leave behind a wise seagull in his place.


Questions and Answers


Q. What is the moral of Jonathan Livingston Seagull?
Answer: The storey of Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an easy one, but it has a powerful message. The message is that we are all capable of much more than we believe or are taught. God – or luck, if you like – is on the side of the brave, the adventurous, and the free-spirited.

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Q. How is Jonathan different from other gulls in Jonathan Livingston Seagull?
Answer: While other seagulls are mostly focused only on eating and stuffing, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is focused on flying for its own sake and on pushing the limits of his body.

Q. What are the characteristics of Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Answer: Jonathan Livingston Seagull can be described as daring, ambitious, and individualistic. Believing himself to be unique from the other birds in the flock, he wants to fly higher and faster than them by learning the secrets of flight.

Q. What does Jonathan try to perfect?
Answer: Jonathan violates all the unwritten laws of the Pack – hangs in the air, flies low over the water and develops tremendous speed. He is trying to bring his flying skills to perfection. … The whole next week, he learns to fly at high speed, but nothing comes of it.

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