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Daniela Torres

Professor Corri Ditch

English 115

09 May 2018

Courageous Acts (Revised)

Finding happiness is one of the key components of self love. ​Once happiness is found,

one can practice self love and learn to be at peace.​ Happiness can be found and practice among

the hardest times of suffering, and it can be found where no one would have thought to looked.

In the novel, ​The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society​, by Annie Barrows and Mary

Ann Shaffer, ​the characters Remy and Juliet both face internal and external conflicts while living

post-World War II. Both of these characters also​ portray and find happiness with the help of their

personal relationships ​with the people on the Guernsey Island,​ as well as their will to change for

the better.​ ​Remy discovers happiness through her actions that benefit all those around her, while

Juliet searches for happiness by discovery what she truly desires.

In the novel​, Remy is a minor character trying to find happiness. She has only written one

letter, but manages to express more than enough of what she feels. Remy and Elizabeth looked at

the sky above together and Remy believed it was a “wonderful surprise...[they] stood there, hand

in hand, until the darkness came” (Barrows and Shaffer 179). In this letter, there was a

significant amount of evidence to conclude that Remy eventually finds happiness. Remy suffered

crucially before, during, and after the war. She suffered more during the camps she was placed,

where she eventually forms a special, strong bond with Elizabeth Mckenna after Remy “Was

placed in Block Eleven” (Barrows and Shaffer 179). Elizabeth Mckenna helped Remy appreciate
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little things and also demonstrates true beauty and courage. Although suffering during the war by

being placed in a concentration camps, Remy suffered once freed as well.When Barrows and

Shaffer write that Sister Cecile Touvier explains how Remy “insisted on writing [the

letter]...(with) the belief that she will get her strength back properly once she has written the

letter and she can set about laying her friend to rest” (182-183). The letter attached to Remy’s

letter talks about the suffering Remy is experiencing now after the war. She is telling the story of

Remy and how she came to be at the hospital, through pain and suffering, she still manages to

find some sort of peace and happiness. She is finding her peace and happiness by writing the

letter and continuing the legacy of Elizabeth McKenna live on.

Remy briefly mentions that Elizabeth was all she had. She writes that she wants

Elizabeth’s daughter to know the courageous tales of her from the camps as well as the Potato

Peel Pie Society to know the true story of her death. Remy didn’t write the letter for herself, but

for all the other people Elizabeth impacted throughout her lifetime. Remy isn’t the type to be

selfish, she was selfless. Remy had gone through horrific events, from losing her family, to

losing her only true friend, Elizabeth Mckenna. Remy experiences and gains so much before,

after, and during the concentration camps. By using David Brooks’ “What Suffering Does”

articles, “suffering gives people a more accurate sense of their own limitations...when people

thrust down into these deeper zones, they are forced to comfort the fact they can’t determine

what goes on there” (Brooks 286), one can see that the events Remy went through changed her.

These events caused her to know her own limitations and discover what she really could handle.

Brooks also writes that people “can’t tell themselves to stop feeling pain, or to stop missing the

one who has died or gone” (Brooks 286). Remy experience unimaginable things and does come
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out different from all of the horrible experiences. She is stronger, and also manages to find peace

and happiness, just she demonstrates in the letter she wrote to the Guernsey Literary and Potato

Peel Pie Society. The words she uses to describe Elizabeth also shows her passion and happiness

she experienced with their friendship, as well as the pain she feels from missing her good friend.

Remy’s powerful use of word choice allows her to paint the vivid illustration of the friendship

with Elizabeth. One can visualize how strong the impact was on Remy to not only love and

respect Elizabeth, but to also have her savor the time she spent with Elizabeth.

Besides Remy, Juliet is another character in the novel that manages to find happiness.

Juliet is the character that writes majority of the letters in the novel. Juliet is conflicted as to what

to do with her life and is struggling to see if what she has is enough and if it brings her

happiness. She wonders on how she can change her writing and stay as successful as she is with

her newspaper column and one book that she has published. Juliet refuses to stay and marry

Mark and leaves to the Guernsey Island to pursue a different goal, where she eventually

discovers her own, true happiness. She also manages to take advantage of the opportunity she

gets from her popular column. Juliet not only leaves London to find herself with her writing, but

as well as to discover if she truly loves and wants to continue being with Mark. Juliet

experiences the self-actualization needs of the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For example, Saul

McLeod writes that ​“every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward

a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by a failure to meet lower

level needs.” (Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs).​ ​Throughout the novel, Juliet writes many letters

to colleagues and friends explaining what she is feeling as well as what she is living.This helps

give Juliet the extra push she desperately needed. The extra courage she needed to finally leave
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and go out to discover herself as a person, as well as a writer, thus the self-actualization portion

of the Hierarchy of Needs

As the tour across England helped Juliet realize that she wasn’t truly happy where she

was at, Juliet finds happiness in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.​ The journey

Juliet faces is from deep down within. ​In​ “The Source of Happiness” by His Holiness the Dalai

Lama and Howard Cutler​ describe​ the mindset Juliet originally had, the articles allows reader to

describe Juliet with one as the comparing mind. The Dalai Lama and Cutler write that people’s

“feeling(s) of life satisfaction often depend on who [they] compare [themselves] to” (The Dalai

Lama and Cutler 23). Juliet compares her own life to the life she could possibly have. She briefly

mentions other writers that have become successful and how she wants to write another book and

gain that success as well. Although this is the case, Juliet isn’t really comparing her career with

others but with herself. She does mention successful writers she has encountered, but Juliet is

mostly trying to further develop herself as a person, as a writer, and as a partner. By using

Aristotle’s “The Nicomachean Ethics”, Aristotle writes that “happiness, then, is something

complete and self-sufficient, and is the end of action” (Aristotle 83). The reader can connect how

Juliet noticed she was unhappy and decided to take a stand. Juliet decides to take action to

change her mindset and find true happiness. Juliet finds the source of her happiness once being a

member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. She realizes that her happiness

was not in London writing funny columns or writing the one book, That it was not in marrying

Mark, a wealthy man, and becoming a trophy wife. It was on the island, where she formed strong

relationships with the members of the Potato Peel Pie Society.


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While on the quest for happiness,​ Remy and Juliet both experience a great amount of

suffering, Remy in both a vivid and ​impressive​ visual way, while Juliet experienced as an

internal conflict with herself. Juliet struggles for not knowing what it is what she wants and

Remy struggles to get what she wants. Remy knew she wanted to joint and meet the members of

the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but Remy did the next best thing she could

do. She wrote the letter to impact the group the best way she could. She explains that “Elizabeth

was [her] friend, and in that place (the concentration camp) friendship was all that aided one to

remain human” (Barrows and Shaffer 178). The letter is very powerful. It allows readers to

create their own opinion on Remy and see what she is facing. It allows to the reader to

understand that friendship was very important and big role into helping Remy discover her

happiness.

The happiness these two characters find is mostly within themselves. ​Juliet discovers her

peace on the island in the book club, while getting past the feeling of being tied down to one

location (with Mark). Remy finds it after Elizabeth’s death.​ Juliet has struggled to find herself as

a person, as a writer, and as a partner, but here on the Guernsey Island with the Guernsey

Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, she manages to discover how much the people impacted her

life. She discovers she doesn’t love Mark as much as she thought, and discovers that the

newspaper columns truly did not make her happy and that she can do so much more. Juliet had to

“turn away slightly from [her] own… to sense the true conditions of others” (Ladner IX). which

helped her discover her own. Juliet let the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society be the

outline of the good and guide her to her happiness. Remy discovers that Elizabeth was all she

really had left and wants to world to know who she really was. Remy went through a lot of
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suffering that didn’t allow her to “come out healed; [she came] out different” (Brooks 286).

Remy describes Elizabeth as not just a woman apart of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie

Society, and not just a mother, but a woman of great courage, knowledge, and respect. Remy

wanted the people of Guernsey to know who she was and what Elizabeth meant to her and also

writes to ensure that she had wanted to meet the people Elizabeth admires and inspires.

Throughout the book, Juliet and Remy both achieve happiness. Juliet learned to gain

courage and begin her true path to happiness in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie

Society. Remy used her pain and suffering to connect with her inner self and also find peace and

happiness. Happiness is not only found through the good times in life, but in the darkest part of

one’s life. Through pain and suffering, peace and happiness are found.
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Works Cited

Aristotle. “​From​ Nicomachean Ethics” ​Pursuing Happiness: a Bedford Spotlight Reader​, by

-------​Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford/St. Martin's, a Macmillan Education

-------​Imprint, 2016, pg. 83.

Barrows, Annie and Shaffer, Mary Ann. ​Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society​.

-------​Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009, Pg. 178, 179, 182, 183,

Brooks, David. “What Suffering Does.” ​Pursuing Happiness: a Bedford Spotlight Reader​, by

-------​Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski, Bedford/St. Martin's, a Macmillan Education

-------​Imprint, 2016, pg. 286.

His Holiness Dalai Lama, and Howard Cutler. “The Sources of Happiness.” ​Pursuing

-------​Happiness: a Bedford Spotlight Reader​, by Matthew Parfitt and Dawn Skorczewski,

-------​Bedford/St. Martin's, a Macmillan Education Imprint, 2016, pg. 23.

Ladner, Lorne. ​The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of

-------​Buddhism and Psychology​. HarperOne, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2004. Pg. IX

Mcleod, Saul. “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.” ​Simply Psychology​, Simply Psychology, 2017,

-------​www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html.