59: Graduation

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Opening dialogue by Scott
Title text: Opening dialogue by Scott


Megan and Blondie (in her first appearance) discuss their plans for life after college. Megan has taken the increasingly unusual choice of pursuing a career as a lighthouse operator, a path that has become increasingly less traveled, as lighthouses have become ever more automated and supplanted by other solutions. Before GPS technology, lighthouses were invaluable markers of where dangers to marine navigation, such as shallow reefs or coastal headlands, were located. Megan likes the idea of subverting the trope of the helpless maid in the tower who needs saving, by helping to save seafarers by operating a lighthouse that helps them to find their way safely back home.

When it comes to her turn to answer her own question, Blondie answers that she plans to pursue postgraduate education, but admits that she has no purpose for doing so. After obtaining an undergraduate/bachelor's degree, graduate school is the next level of education, where students pursue a master's or doctoral degree. Augmenting one's education with post-graduate studies is a conventional career path, and would imply that the student has a definite plan for their career, yet some people may attend grad school only because it is conventional, without having any definite plan for their career. This appears to be the case for Blondie, contrasted with Megan's choice of a seemingly blue collar/unskilled career — one might expect such a career to indicate someone who has no specific career plan, yet Megan seems to know her exact purpose, unlike Blondie. The fact that Blondie then accepts an invitation to spend her breaks at Megan's lighthouse suggests that she finds this a more attractive prospect than her more conventional path.

Other comics with a similar theme about finding or taking unexplored paths, instead of fitting into the mold, include 137: Dreams and 267: Choices: Part 4.

Scott appears to be a friend of Randall Munroe. Comics 57 through 59 all have the title text Opening dialogue by Scott, forming a sort of informal mini-series inspired by him. They are:

As there already was a comic released on Monday that week, the first of these three was released on Tuesday, then Wednesday and Friday. This may be related to the fact that this was the first week where the comics were not also released on LiveJournal.


[Megan and Blondie are talking.]
Blondie: What do you want to do when you graduate?
[Same scene as before.]
Megan: I want to become a lighthouse operator.
Blondie: Oh?
Megan: Yeah.
[Cut to scene of lighthouse with text overlaid.]
Megan: Lighthouses are built on interesting pieces of coast, so I'll have an interesting place to walk and swim, and great views of all kinds of weather. I'd feel good about myself and my work every single day.
[Cut back to Megan and Blondie. Megan has her arms up.]
Megan: I'd get to be the girl in the tower, only I'd be the one rescuing people.
[Megan now has her arms down.]
Megan: Why, what do you want to do?
Blondie: I'm going to grad school. I don't really know why.
[Same scene as before.]
Megan: Wanna come hang in my lighthouse over breaks?
Blondie: ...yeah.


This is the first xkcd comic featuring Blondie.

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This is very likely not Miss Lenhart. Her hair is the same, but the official transcript simply calls her "blonde", she's clearly a somewhat aimless student and not a teacher, and the strip does not fit the pattern stated as a certainty on her character page, where she is specifically named in every appearance. Also, this is a very early comic where Randall likely didn't have future characters in mind yet. So, I'm removing her name from the transcript. - jerodast (talk) 14:38, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Randall talks about Miss Lenhart only a few months later, in 135: Substitute. It's impossible for us to know whether he had her in mind or not at this time, but the character ambiguity is standard for xkcd (not less so in the early ones). Since she is at least relevant in any investigation of Miss Lenhart, I'll include her in the categories, and it'll be open for everyone to make up their own minds! –St.nerol (talk) 20:37, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Even teachers were once aimless students. Perhaps this conversation inspired Lenhart to be a teacher 18:23, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Well there is not reason to believe all blonde girls are Miss Lenhart, a young Mrs. Roberts, or her daughter Help I'm trapped in a driver's license factory Elaine Roberts. Hence a new character Blondie has been created after a discussion. And this woman is then of course her. --Kynde (talk) 05:26, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

Maybe I'mover-reading; but there is a bit of an implication that the asking girl is barely hiding her sense of superiority over the chosen profession of answering one. After all, lighthouse operations would seem an unambitious choice for a college graduate, and a profession not long for the modern world. However, surprisingly, responding girl provides a well-reasoned articulated explanation; all the more accentuated when contrasted with the aimlessness of the asking girl. Whatever superiority the asking girl may have felt at the start was clearly demolished by the end when she accepts a generic invitation to hang out at the lighthouse. Mountain Hikes (talk) 04:26, 31 August 2015 (UTC)