The "West of the Sun" is the title of chapter 35 of Educated (Tara Westover' book).

I searched the web to find meaning of the title and I found the explanation below:

"West of the Sun", meaning taking a step beyond reason, and in doing so risking everything to obey powerful.1

Is it a right explanation of the phrase? Is there any other meaning for the "West of the Sun"?

enter image description here Note: South of the Border, West of the Sun is a short novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami.3 South of the Border is a song about Mexico. But what is west of the sun? Shimamoto called it hysteria Siberia and told one story: "Try to imagine this, you’re a farmer, living all alone on the Siberian tundra. Day after day you plow your fields. As far as the eye can see, nothing. To the north, the horizon, to the east, the horizon, to the south, to the west, more of the same. Every morning, when the sun rises in the east, you go out to work in your fields. When it’s directly overhead, you take a break for lunch. When it sinks in the west, you go home to sleep. In the winter they stay home and do indoor work. When spring comes, they head out to the fields again. Anyway, that cycle continues, year after year, and then one day, something inside you dies. Maybe nothing or maybe something in the west of the sun. At any rate, it’s different from south of the border.” 3

1 Answer 1


If you are "west of [somewhere]" (or any compass direction for that matter) it means you are beyond that place in the direction specified. For example, if you were on the east coast and you were told that the place you wanted to reach was "west of [town]" that would mean you would head in the direction of that town and then travel further west from there.

I would interpret "west of the sun" to mean "beyond the horizon". The sun sets in the west. It is always heading west, from a human perspective. When we watch the sun set, that is as far west as many could imagine. So a more figurative way of interpreting it would be "further than you could imagine".

In the quote you give:

"South of the Border is a song about Mexico. But what is west of the sun?"

The writer seems to be wondering what is beyond the sun. They know what is south of the border (Mexico) and they are wondering what is beyond the furthest thing they know.

In this instance I cannot be 100% sure that is what the author intended as the English you quote is translated from the original Japanese and as such the intended meaning may be a little lost in translation.

Note: the expression "west of [a place]" could also in another context mean the west side of that place, rather than somewhere outside it - for example the west end of London is still London. But to be west of anywhere means to be outside it, and more specifically the author could not mean that here because you cannot actually be anywhere on the surface of the sun.

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