“Ithaca . . . Heart racing, Odysseus that great exile
filled with joy to hear Athena, daughter of storming Zeus,
pronounce the name. He stood on native ground at last”
~Odyssey by Homer, Book XIII, Lines 285-287
I went home for Thanksgiving to see my wonderful family and had an amazing time. While I was there I started to think about home as a concept, as an archetype that shows up in life and in stories because it is so important and deeply imprinted on human consciousness.
In most stories the concept of “home” is important. The characters have some place where they are safe, where they are loved and cared for, a place where they belong. Sometimes it is the place and the land where they were born. Even if it is not the place where they were born, the place that is home is the place that they love most, where they wish most to be. It is where the people they love are. Home, whatever it manifests as, is often a driving force in stories as it is in life. Whether real or fictional the orphan must find one and the exile must return.
One of the oldest stories (parts of which every story since has borrowed), the Odyssey is almost entirely a search for home. It is the story of Odysseus' journey from Troy back to Ithaca. He fights with everything he has to return to the land of his ancestors, to his father, and to his beloved wife and son. He loses sight of where he is going occasionally ( * cough * Circe and Calypso) but he always remembers that he needs, needs to get back to Ithaca. With ten years of wandering he finally makes it back to his own shores to rescue his house.
The two main characters in my WiP face a problem somewhat like Odysseus'. Neither of them have a place they can call home and neither know who they were by birth. They search throughout the story for a place they can call home and realize, eventually, they knew where home was all along. They realize that home is something you make for yourself.
Home is where the heart is.