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Power of Hobby vs. Necessity of Commitment in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity Essay

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Updated: Jan 17th, 2019

Man’s life is full of captivating events, serious decisions, and challenges which have to be identified and overcome. Inabilities to control personal interests, poor self-identification, and problems with building relationships are considered to be the main challenges in the vast majority of men lives.

The point is that some men are not eager or just afraid to identify their weaknesses and do not want to change something in order to gain better understanding of the matter. This is why it is usually very hard for a man to identify personal weakness and take some steps to improve the situation. There are many interesting literary sources where the authors make attempts to share their own ideas of how men can evaluate their lives and realize what actually goes wrong.

Nick Hornby is the author whose recent attempt to describe the male life from inside seems to be rather attractive and educative. His High Fidelity is the story about a man, Rob Fleming, who hides behind his hobby that is music and suffers from the fear of commitment. The theme of personal alienation because of hobby, fears, and uncertainty deprives the main character of a chance to make commitments, become an integral part of society, and have support that is so crucial for people.

In a variety of messages sent by Nick Hornby in his High Fidelity, it is very important to identify the one about loneliness, abandonment, and fear that supports characters’ obsession about the world of music. The first line of the story may say a lot about the character, the story, and the emotions: “MY desert-island” (Hornby 3).

The idea to underline the desert and human connection to the island seems to be rather interesting and even provocative. A man is not afraid to admit the fact that his life is characterized by five memorable split-ups, still, he is too weak to understand how terrible this situation is. Another interesting aspect of this message is the way of how the character informs the reader about his past relations: the idea of top is similar to the one that is used in music charts.

The ideas of “top ten” and the “top five” are not usual for describing the relations between a man and a woman, still, they prove that the character has not traditional approaches, and his standpoints are predetermined by his passion to music and everything that is connected to this field.

Yes, Rob’s obsession about music affects his life and people around in a number of ways. He is so absorbed with music and it is hard for him to define where reality ends and music begins. Even during his serious speeches and suggestions, he takes a lot from the world of music and movies:

“Women get it wrong when they complain about media images of women. Men understand that not everyone has Bardot’s breasts, or Jamie Lee Curtis’s neck, or Cindy Crawford’s bottom, and we don’t mind at all. Obviously we’d take Kim Basinger over Phyllis Diller, just as women would take Keanu Reeves over Sergeant Bilko, but it’s not the body that’s important, it’s the level of abasement.” (Hornby 274)

On the one hand, his ideas seem to be rather clear and properly developed. However, on the other hand, it is strange to hear from a man so many names from the world of show business in one sentence. “The protagonist’s obsession with pop alienating, and his attempt to use it to provide a motif around which to interpret his life” (Self 153) is a little bit irritating.

In the novel, the character’s passion is his hobby as he cannot imagine his life without music and songs’ texts which dictated the new rules to be followed. With the help of his songs, he can easily promote introspection that is usually based on retrospection because he admits that “I’m very good at the past.

It’s the present I can’t understand” (Hornby 84). The evaluation of the situation helps to comprehend how dependent on music and information it carries on Rob is. Together with his friends, Dick and Barry, Rob owns a shop where they sell records to the customers.

Still, their obsession influences the way of how they may treat the customers: they can easily send a person away in case they see how terrible this person’s music taste is. Unfortunately, while Rob’s hobby is progressive indeed, his relations with people are not as progressive as they could be. In spite of the fact that the characters truly believe that their passion to music fulfills their lives, they cannot notice how miserable they are in regard to fears and problems existed.

Fear of commitment seems to be the most challenging issue to deal with in the novel. In fact, commitment sure is not always easy. The characters of the novel do not pay much attention to the necessity of commitment in their lives but try to spend their time in order to explore themselves and follow personal interests and plans.

What goes wrong? When does something go wrong that 30-year old men are not able to understand the importance of commitment and responsibility? Even when Rob tries to understand the problems he faces in his life, his obsession is overwhelming. What he is going is comparing the issues: “what came first – the music or the misery? Did I listen to the music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to the music?” (Hornby 25)

The necessity of commitment appears from time to time, still, Rob is not ready to understand that it is time to take some actions and to become responsible for something in his life. When Rob’s girlfriend grieves about her father’s death, Rob does not feel responsibility for his support, understanding, or communication. All he wants to do is to find out how miserable his girlfriend is and how happy he is under the same conditions.

His hobby is obsessive and controls his mind: “there aren’t really any pop songs about death – not good ones, anyway” (Hornby 233). Instead of being supportive and friendly, Rob hides behind the music and does not want to understand that it is necessary to grow up and to change the life.

High Fidelity is identified as the novel that “established a new genre of male relationship fiction… male obsession” (Knowles 66). This is why it is possible to observe some changes in Rob’s life as well as his intentions to influence his.

Making so many mistakes, having such false thoughts, identifying such miserable purposes – all these actions have a terrible impact on how a person may develop. After a thorough observation of personal life and relations with people around, Rob realizes that his behavior and his life are not as successful as they should be.

His attention to the details and to the relations he managed to develop help him identify the mistakes and realize how wrong all his actions and thoughts are. He has no other way but makes some serious changes in his life and apologizes before his memories: “I am sorry, I’ve let you down. I was the person who was supposed to look after you, but I blew it: I made wrong decision at bad times, and I turned you into me” (Hornby 205).

In my opinion, one of the most difficult and serious decision a person could make is to admit personal mistakes. Men are usually too proud to realize that their actions, thoughts, and ideas are not always correct. This is why the achievements demonstrated by the main character of the Hornby’s novel High Fidelity deserve attention and recognition. The reader gets a wonderful chance to learn from someone’s mistakes and understand how personal assurance may dazzle people.

The story under analysis is a good educative source for those who cannot admit that current life is not perfect, and some steps may be taken. Without any doubts, some changes in life are scary still inevitable, and the novel proves that it is obligatory to overcome personal fears like fear of commitment or fear to drop obsession in order to improve the life and make it more like an amazing album of the best songs ever instead of enjoy the same monotone hit day by day.

Works Cited

Hornby, Nick. High Fidelity. New York: Penguin Group, 2005.

Knowles, Joanne. Nock Hornby’s High Fidelity: A Reader’s Guide. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002. Self. Will. Junk Mail. New York: Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2006.

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IvyPanda. "Power of Hobby vs. Necessity of Commitment in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity." January 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/power-of-hobby-vs-necessity-of-commitment-in-nick-hornbys-high-fidelity/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Power of Hobby vs. Necessity of Commitment in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity." January 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/power-of-hobby-vs-necessity-of-commitment-in-nick-hornbys-high-fidelity/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Power of Hobby vs. Necessity of Commitment in Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity'. 17 January.

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