Although I have so much to say about Will and his “search”, my blog is going to focus on Allison. She is so intriguing because she’s like Percy’s little fictional isolation experiment. While I was reading it, I was literally laughing at the irony that the mental illness patient finds better therapy in an abandoned greenhouse than in rehab. I think what Percy is trying to achieve with Allison is to make his readers understand that learning about one’s “self” (or in Allison’s case returning to one’s “self”) cannot be accomplished through science (diagnosis and prescription) alone, but through a return to nature and self-reliance. Emerson, anyone? Sorry for the pun, but that’s literally what she does! She regains her self and relearns communication on her own in that greenhouse so that she can eventually return to society. Is Percy saying that we should start sending clinically depressed people into the woods to live off the land instead of to a mental institution? I don’t know; but of all of Percy’s characters, Allison seems to be the only one who figures out how to successfully cope in the world: by basically starting over.
Also, the parts where she writes letters to herself before she lost her memory reminded me of Lost in the Cosmos when he talks about seeing your wallet as if you were another person looking at your (someone else’s) wallet. Allison has the opportunity to do that AND to communicate with herself, which just makes my head spin!