I think the idea of travel as a necessity is extremely important in Wendt’s Black Rainbow. As we know, our protagonist, whose names and identities we eventually find out, is not on a quest for pleasure, but one of danger and of requirement. When I think about the times of travel in my life, the word necessity doesn’t necessarily come to mind. Instead, the word pleasure is usually in its place: family trips, school trips, etc. have all been done out of a desire and a choice to experience new things. During the first week of class we discussed these juxtaposing ideas and I consider myself lucky to be someone who has never been forced out of a home. I am going to use my experience in Spain as an example mainly because it was the longest period of travel in my life and also the most recent. This trip of course was one of pleasure, very unlike that of the narrator. I was in no way forced to do this but wanted to go to experience new things and new cultures. I remember being incredibly nervous before leaving, thinking things like, will I be homesick? Will I understand the language? Will I be able to navigate around a new city on my own?
One particularly emotionally powerful moment was when my group and I went to see a movie in Madrid. It was a Spanish movie about the Spanish Civil War and was incredibly sad and upsetting. Because we were in Spain, the movie did not have subtitles and I remember thinking that I wouldn’t understand any it. However, I did understand it and appreciated it as well. It was an important event during my trip because I thought to myself, wow I’m really doing this and understanding things in another language. I actually kept a travel journal while I was there and wrote it in every day. To reiterate my point, one particular day says, “I’m proud of myself for doing this. I would never have been able to do this freshman year…” I realized how far I’ve come from even two years prior and it felt good.
Similarly, although the protagonist is travelling for necessity, like me, he comes to realize certain things about himself that he never knew. First off, he literally finds out who he is by seeing the histories of his past lives. In both instances, the end result is essentially the same; Eric Foster learns about the power he has inside himself through the histories the Tribunal has compiled. Although he is unhappy with the role he has been assigned and with the choices he is forced to make, he deliberately tries to make his own decisions and to do things against the rules. His relationship with the True Ones illustrates this. Towards the end of the novel, Democrambo asks him at the trial why he would be willing to sacrifice their world of goodness, free from pain, sickness, war, etc. and I think the reason is because he desires the only thing which the Tribunal does not really possess: free will. Foster learns certain things about himself through his quest, and not to sound cliché, but I did as well. He was able to survive despite the search he was forced to take. Essentially, the search made him stronger and forced him to see things that he had never really seen before, like the fact that his memories and his love for his family was not some fabrication, it was real (192). Essentially, Foster is the search and the search is in him; they are inextricably linked.