Educated is a memoir written by Tara Westover that tells the powerful story of her journey from a remote mountain town in Idaho to earning a PhD from Cambridge University. In this book, Westover recounts her upbringing in a strict and abusive household, where education was discouraged and she was subjected to physical and emotional violence. Despite these challenges, Westover’s determination to pursue an education and escape her oppressive environment ultimately leads her on a transformative path of self-discovery and empowerment.
Chapter 1: Buck’s Peak
In the opening chapter, Westover introduces readers to her childhood home in Buck’s Peak, a rugged and isolated mountain town in Idaho. She describes her family’s unconventional lifestyle, living off the grid without electricity or running water, and the strict religious beliefs that governed their daily lives. Westover’s father, Gene, is portrayed as a domineering figure, while her mother, Faye, is depicted as a passive enabler of her husband’s abusive behavior.
Chapter 2: The Midwife
This chapter delves into Westover’s experiences assisting her mother, who works as a self-taught midwife in the community. Through her mother’s work, Westover gains insight into the complexities of childbirth and the importance of women’s health. However, she also witnesses the dangerous consequences of her mother’s untrained methods, as several births result in complications and near-fatalities. This chapter highlights the stark contrast between Westover’s desire for knowledge and her family’s aversion to modern medicine.
Chapter 3: Educated
In this pivotal chapter, Westover describes her first exposure to formal education. Despite never having attended school, Westover’s thirst for knowledge leads her to teach herself to read and eventually enroll in a local college. This newfound opportunity opens her eyes to a world beyond Buck’s Peak and challenges the beliefs instilled in her by her family. However, her pursuit of education also strains her relationships with her family, who view her aspirations as a betrayal of their way of life.
Chapter 4: Cambridge
The final chapter of the book focuses on Westover’s journey to Cambridge University in England, where she earns a scholarship to study history. She describes the culture shock she experiences as she navigates the unfamiliar environment and grapples with imposter syndrome. Despite the challenges, Westover thrives academically and begins to find her own voice and identity. This chapter serves as a testament to Westover’s resilience and determination to overcome the obstacles that once seemed insurmountable.
Through these chapter summaries, readers gain insight into Westover’s extraordinary life and the transformative power of education. “Educated” is a compelling memoir that explores themes of family, identity, and the pursuit of knowledge, leaving readers inspired by Westover’s remarkable journey.
Chapter 1: Buck’s Peak
In Chapter 1 of the book “Educated” by Tara Westover, the author introduces us to her childhood home, Buck’s Peak. Buck’s Peak is a remote and rugged mountain in rural Idaho, where the Westover family lives in a small house without running water or electricity. The family’s way of life is deeply rooted in their strict Mormon faith and their distrust of the government and modern society.
Tara, the youngest of seven children, describes her early memories of life on Buck’s Peak, including her father’s scrapyard and her mother’s herbal remedies. She also introduces us to her older siblings and their unique personalities and roles within the family. Despite the hardships and isolation of their lifestyle, Tara’s family finds solace and purpose in their self-sufficiency and their belief in the impending end of the world.
As the chapter progresses, Tara recounts her father’s increasing paranoia and his refusal to seek medical treatment for injuries sustained in a car accident. This incident foreshadows the dangerous and unpredictable nature of life on Buck’s Peak, where the family’s isolation and distrust of outsiders often leads to dire consequences.
Overall, Chapter 1 sets the stage for the rest of the book, providing a glimpse into the unique and challenging upbringing that shaped Tara Westover’s life. It introduces the reader to the rugged landscape of Buck’s Peak and the extreme beliefs and practices of her family, setting the foundation for the themes of education, self-discovery, and breaking free from the constraints of her upbringing that will be explored throughout the rest of the book.
Chapter 2: The Midwife
In Chapter 2 of “Educated,” Tara Westover recounts her memories of her mother, LaRee Westover, who is a self-taught midwife. Tara describes how her mother’s skills as a midwife were highly respected within their community, even though she lacked any formal medical training.
Tara vividly remembers the night when her mother delivered a baby for a neighbor. She talks about how her mother would use a combination of herbs and essential oils to help ease the pain of labor and how she would rely on her intuition to guide her in the delivery process.
Tara also discusses the tension that existed between her mother and her father, Gene, who was a strict and devout Mormon. Gene believed that relying on medical professionals was a sign of weakness and lack of faith in God’s healing power. This belief often caused conflict between Tara’s parents, as her mother’s midwifery practices were seen as going against their religious beliefs.
Despite the challenges and disagreements within their family, Tara admires her mother’s dedication to helping others and her ability to bring new life into the world. She recognizes the strength and resilience her mother possesses, even in the face of criticism and judgment from those who do not understand or accept her unconventional methods.
This chapter highlights the importance of family dynamics and the impact they can have on an individual’s upbringing. It also sets the stage for Tara’s own journey to seek knowledge and education outside of the confines of her family’s beliefs and traditions.
Chapter 3: Dance
In Chapter 3 of the book “Educated” by Tara Westover, the author recounts her experiences with dance during her childhood. Growing up in a strict and isolated household in rural Idaho, dance was not something that was encouraged or even allowed.
Westover describes how she first discovered dance when she saw a ballet performance on television. She was captivated by the grace and beauty of the dancers and felt a deep longing to experience that same freedom of movement. However, her father, who believed that dancing was sinful and immoral, forbade her from pursuing her interest in dance.
Despite her father’s disapproval, Westover secretly began teaching herself how to dance. She would practice in her room, mimicking the movements she had seen on TV and imagining herself performing on a grand stage. Dance became a form of escape for her, a way to temporarily leave behind the constraints of her strict upbringing.
As Westover grew older, her passion for dance only intensified. She started attending local dance classes in secret, hiding her newfound hobby from her family. These classes provided her with a sense of joy and fulfillment that she was unable to find elsewhere in her life.
However, as Westover became more involved in the dance community, she faced increasing pressure to conform to the expectations and standards set by her instructors. She struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, constantly comparing herself to the other dancers who seemed more skilled and experienced.
In this chapter, Westover reflects on the power of dance to transcend the limitations of her upbringing and to provide her with a sense of identity and self-expression. Despite the challenges she faced, dance became a vital part of her journey towards self-discovery and independence.
- The conflict between personal passions and familial expectations
- The power of self-expression and identity through art
- The resilience and determination to pursue one’s dreams
“Dance was the only art form I had ever loved, and it had never loved me back.”
“Dance was my secret, my rebellion, my escape.”
Chapter 4: Blood and Feathers
In “Blood and Feathers,” Tara Westover continues to recount her experiences growing up in a strict and isolated household in rural Idaho. This chapter focuses on the dangerous work her father, Gene, and her brothers undertake at their junkyard and construction business.
Gene’s junkyard is a treacherous place, filled with sharp metal edges and hazardous materials. Tara describes how her brothers, Shawn and Tyler, often work there, navigating the dangers with apparent ease. However, Tara is not allowed to join them, as her father believes that women are too delicate for such work.
Tara’s desire to be involved in her family’s business is fueled by her admiration for her brothers, especially Shawn. She sees them as strong and capable, and she longs to prove herself in their eyes. However, her father’s strict gender roles prevent her from pursuing her ambitions.
Despite her exclusion from the junkyard, Tara finds solace in her love for music. She secretly teaches herself to play the piano and finds comfort in the melodies she creates. Music becomes an escape for her, allowing her to momentarily forget the limitations imposed on her by her family.
The Feather Incident
One day, while exploring the junkyard, Tara discovers a bag of feathers. Curious and intrigued, she takes them home and begins using them to create artwork. She believes that the feathers possess a spiritual energy that connects her to something greater than herself.
When Gene finds out about Tara’s feather collection, he becomes furious. He sees it as a violation of their family’s strict religious beliefs and accuses her of engaging in witchcraft. He forces her to burn the feathers, believing it will rid her of the evil spirits he believes they represent.
This incident further highlights the conflict between Tara’s desire for self-expression and her father’s rigid beliefs. It also foreshadows the challenges she will face as she continues to question and challenge the beliefs she grew up with.
The Power of Education
Throughout “Blood and Feathers,” Tara’s longing for knowledge and education becomes more apparent. She recognizes that her lack of formal education limits her opportunities and perpetuates her dependence on her family’s restrictive lifestyle.
Tara’s experiences in the junkyard and her father’s reaction to her feather collection serve as catalysts for her determination to pursue an education. She realizes that education can provide her with the tools to break free from the constraints of her upbringing and forge her own path.
This chapter sets the stage for Tara’s future struggles and her journey towards self-discovery and empowerment through education.
Stay tuned for Chapter 5: The Midwife Clinic, where Tara’s thirst for knowledge leads her to new experiences and challenges.
Chapter 5: Intellectual Awakening
In Chapter 5 of “Educated,” Tara Westover experiences a significant intellectual awakening.
Tara’s thirst for knowledge grows as she discovers the world of books. She becomes fascinated with the power of words and the knowledge they hold. Tara’s father initially discourages her from reading books that he considers “worldly,” but she secretly borrows books from her older brother, Tyler, and hides them under her bed. Through reading, Tara begins to question the beliefs and teachings she has grown up with, and her curiosity about the world outside of her isolated upbringing intensifies.
Tara’s desire for knowledge leads her to seek a formal education. She decides to take the ACT exam, a standardized test required for college admission. Despite never having received a formal education, Tara studies diligently and manages to score high enough to gain admission to Brigham Young University. This opportunity opens up a whole new world for Tara, as she begins to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
At college, Tara faces numerous challenges as she tries to catch up academically. She struggles with basic math and writing skills, having never been taught these subjects in her homeschooling. However, she is determined to succeed and spends countless hours in the library, educating herself and making up for the knowledge gaps from her unconventional upbringing.
Chapter 5 of “Educated” showcases Tara’s intellectual awakening and her relentless pursuit of knowledge. It highlights her resilience and determination to overcome the limitations imposed on her by her upbringing, as she embraces the transformative power of education.
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