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1-Page Summary of Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by author and pilot Richard Bach, is a fable about an ambitious seagull who wants to be different from the rest of his flock. It was initially presented in serialized form in Flying magazine. The book struggled to get published because it was ahead of its time but eventually became one of the best-selling books of all time when it was finally published in 1970.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a young gull who loves flying. He wants to fly faster and higher than other gulls, but his fellow birds only care about food and are suspicious of him. After a failed dive, Jonathan nearly gives up on his dream, but then he discovers that by flying on the tips of his wings he can go 200 miles per hour! Excited about this new discovery, Jonathan returns to the flock eager to share what he learned with them, but they declare him an Outcast for breaking their rules.
Jonathan is an old man who has spent his life trying to learn how to fly. One night, he encounters two seagulls that tell him they have come for him and will take him to the flock where he belongs. Jonathan travels with them into a new realm of existence, one in which he can continue learning about flying. However, before Chiang leaves for another world, Jonathan learns from him that true heaven consists of being aware of oneself as infinite. He also learns how to travel instantaneously through space and time with help from Chiang. Finally, before leaving Earth again, Jonathan decides to use the knowledge he learned from Chiang so that he can share it with his former flock on Earth
Back on Earth, Jonathan takes on several students who have been made Outcasts by the Flock, teaching them to fly more skillfully. He also teaches them about their true spiritual nature and how they can reconnect with the flock. The students are confused at first but slowly begin to understand what he is talking about. When one gull with a bad wing manages to fly after speaking to Jonathan, rumors begin to spread that he is divine.
One day, Jonathan was working with a student named Fletcher. While he was teaching him how to fly, they were forced to swerve and crash into some rocks. However, rather than dying in the accident, Fletcher managed to move on to another plane of existence while still alive. Therefore, when Jonathan helped bring him back from that place after his death at sea, the flock thought that he had been resurrected by some sort of demon or devil. Thusly they tried to kill Jonathan and Fletcher because they thought it would be best for everyone if he was dead. However, before they could do anything about it Jonathan jumped away with Fletcher in tow so no one else could get hurt during their escape attempt. As such there’s a new leader of this flock now who will help keep things running smoothly until something like this happens again later down the road.
One day, a seagull named Jonathan is flying around by himself. He’s practicing how to fly as high and as fast as possible because he wants to be different from the other birds. His mother and father chided him for not being more like the rest of his flock.
Jonathan tries to listen to his parents, but he finds it hard to resist flying off. He is back practicing again within a few days. Jonathan starts diving from great heights in an attempt to fly faster than any other gull; eventually, he breaks 90 miles per hour while pulling out of a dive and crashes into the ocean. He comes around and realizes that night has fallen—something seagulls never do.
Jonathan realizes that the key to diving is to shorten his wingspan. He decides to dive again, this time with just his wing tips, and reaches a speed of over 200 miles per hour. The next day he practices high-speed turns until sunset.