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Literature: A Story Of Its Own

To remain when everything else changes needs true power. The question is: where does literature acquire its power?

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Few things in our world emerge with ancient history. Few things are able to bring the past, present, and future into a single point of existence. Literature is one of them. Literature progressed side by side with the world we live in today. How then does it remain across time and history, culture and diversity, people and ideas? How is it that it has continued when other things have ceased?

The power literature has over our lives is inevitable, and its ability to make the world a better place, undeniable. However. what kind of power does it have? The answer can be found with those who depend upon it. After all, those who wish to evoke memories, kindle emotions, and unfold the significance of things rely on literature.

That effect, that philosophy, can be found across all forms of literature. Four of them will be examined here: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Skipping Shoes by Louisa May Alcott, "The Sadness of Clothes" by Emily Fragos, and Daniel's Story by Carol Matas. Although four different, but delightful, pieces of literature, each convey literature's power in evoking memories, kindling emotions, and unfolding the significance of things.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

A fictional, fantasy novel told from two perspectives The Scorpio Races is a riveting story filled with passion, integrity, and sincerity. Every November, a horse riding contest takes place. In these races, men ride on the vicious "capaill uisce", or rather, water horses. These animals are stronger, faster, fiercer, and more cruel than any land horse. They long for the sea, where they belong. Sean Kendrick, the returning champion, is a strong determined rider who refuses to be afraid and has a gift with these horses. This year, he races to buy his own beloved horse. Kate, or Puck, Connolly races as the first girl to ever do so and, more importantly, on a land horse. Her goal is to keep one of her brothers from leaving and to make some money if he does leave. They end up working together and falling in love. The events that follow are creative, terrifying, and wonderful and the ending is worthwhile.

Memories of family are brought to remembrance with this journey first and foremost. There is a sense of familiarity in the way Puck treats her brothers and of gratitude in seeing how much they miss their parents who have passed away. The traditions of the island in its festival, races, and tourists are bound to make you think of your own. Needless to say, no two readers will think of the same memories in reading this book. To each it will evoke something of a different flavor.

As for kindling emotions, this novel is a fireplace. You feel their ambitions and their struggles, their passion and their determination. You will dream, laugh, persevere, and fall in love. Every emotion perfectly in sync with their theirs. Every thought running alongside their minds. Although the characters may live in a world of fantasy and fiction, you will not feel out of place in reading this book.

This novel asks: what are we willing to do for family, for love, and for our dreams? It says that sacrifice is necessary, and hard work inevitable, but our minds and our hearts, those we can control. It brings forward the reality that many people live today, that is, when ambitions become necessities. Puck enters the race to keep her brother from leaving, but this situation is not so different from the mothers and fathers in our world that work tirelessly to create a better outcome. This novel also speaks of the way necessities can become ambitions. Both Sean and Puck enter the race out of a necessity, Sean to buy his horse and Puck to stop her family from falling apart. However, in the series of events that take place, both begin to build greater goals. Puck wants to prove herself, and Sean has learnt that emotion does not need to tear you down. The story is realistic in relating how brutal the world can be, both physically and emotionally. Nevertheless, the power of this book lies in the way it reminds us of the strength and ability of passion, ambition, integrity, and love thereby transforming the reader's world not into an easier one, but rather one filled with a little more determination.

The Skipping Shoes by Louisa May Alcott

This children's story tells of the adventures of a stubborn girl called Kitty who never does what is asked of her. Her mother buys her a new pair of shoes which, little does Kitty know, are magical. First, she is forced by the shoes to tell the cook to make pie, then she cannot eat of the forbidden cake. Later, she has to go to the post office and all along Kitty has no control over her shoes. Eventually, Kitty realizes that the shoes will help her if she helps others and will prevent her from being cruel or stubborn to others. She even agrees to go visit some poor people and deliver what they need. She passes by Fairyland, a little grove, on the way home where she sees the animals and insects busy with work but the butterflies enjoying their holiday. The magic leaves the shoes at sunset but the lessons Kitty learned do not and whenever she has a chance, she always returns to Fairyland.

This story is wonderfully reminiscent of any childhood. It brings to remembrance days of strolling in parks, being with friends, of being stubborn and mischievous and simply alive. The entire story holds an atmosphere of brightness and joy. Whether you are relating to eating the forbidden cake, or shaking your head at how mischievous Kitty can be, you are able to escape for a little while and run down memory lane.

Any reader, young or old, can be reminded of the joy found in innocence and the innocence found in joy. Kitty is happiest when she goes to Fairyland, a place away from everyone and everything where all she sees is welcoming and nothing is corrupt. In that innocence, she finds joy. In one of the passages in the story, Kitty is dancing in her shoes without a care in the world as her parents express their delight in watching her. Not only, then, does Kitty bring forth innocence for herself, but others are able to witness the innocence in her joy as well. I believe we all long for a place like Fairyland, where no evil is present and we are able to be content with the least. For now, we must do what Kitty's parents did. We must find the joy and innocence that children inexplicably possess.

This book shows, through Kitty's mom, what a little tough love can do. It made Kitty do what was right and kind for her family, friends, and the less fortunate. The new values Kitty gained proves to us the type of change that occurs within us when we decide to help others. When Kitty ceased with her stubbornness, as well as when she visited Fairyland, she realized that there is a magic that comes from looking at things with a different perspective. She was still asked to do her usual tasks but her attitude was different this time. What a great reminder that we see things not as they are, but as we are. Perhaps the magic lies not in what we do, but in why and how we do it. Reading every line of this story is a delight because of the sweet nostalgia these kinds of books carry. They ground us and reveal the simplicity of life, rebuking us for always complicating things too much.

"The Sadness of Clothes" by Emily Fragos

In this poem, the speaker is saddened by the death of her loved one. She describes his clothes as portraying her emotions. They tell us more about the beloved, and more about the speaker, than she ever could. By talking to the clothes, she is actually convincing and reminding herself of the power of words and their ability to let her grief out.

One of the most gravitating things about this poem is the brilliant imagery with which the speaker illustrates her memories. It compels you to draw on memories of your own and to sharpen them that they may reach the vividness of the descriptions you read. Fragos blends in good and bad memories in perfect balance. The speaker will mention how the clothes have "outlived/ their usefulness and cannot get warm and full." (line 1-2), and then immediately contrast the thought by saying how her beloved had "showed up immaculately dressed in slacks and plaid jacket/ and had that beautiful smile on and you’d talk." (line 4-5). How often do we choose to think of those we love with a joyful memory? This poem assists us in doing so, and says that we must do so.

Poetry is the method by which a poet pours out their innermost thoughts, which is why we find that poems have a great deal of emotional reign given to them. It is no surprise, then, that this poem is filled with all manner of sentiment that causes the audience to share in these feelings, too. You share in the sadness over the death and the useless clothes. You sympathize with the despair and helplessness the speaker feels. You join her in the passion she has to let go of grief and in her, masked, rage at the world for having taken away her beloved. Most of all, you will nod your head in approval when she declares the power words have always had.

The poem does not try to fool us by saying that we will eventually "let go" of our loved ones. In fact, it says that everything around us will be a heartbreaking reminder of their influence in our lives. It says that we, willingly or unwillingly, will relive the memories we had with them, just to find something to hold on to. In this light, the poem seems without hope and you must be wondering how this could ever make the world a better place. Well, it tells us of the necessity of grief and yet, in the same respect, the necessity of letting grief go. It says that there is nothing wrong in mourning but that we must also have the courage to smile again. That we must hold on to the power of words because they can help us " [fight] to the last breath" (line 13) and "finally let grief out" (line 11). The poem has already told us how it can make a difference because it has told us of the power of words.

Daniel's Story by Carol Matas

Set during World War Two, Daniel, his parents, his sister Erika, and their family are facing grave discrimination from Nazi Germany. The story is told from Daniel's perspective and follows the events of the time and those of the Holocaust. However, in the midst of everything, he is able to find a light. Together with their friends, Daniel and Erika form a youth group, they fight for what they can, they find happiness, and joy, and determination.

The story asks the reader to recall memories of family on every page. Memories of celebrations, dinners, being in trouble, being spoiled, to name a few, are present and create a wonderful sense of belonging and familiarity between the reader and the characters. You will also think of music and literature, and the experiences you have had will not be so different from that of the characters. The book asks you to recall memories of love, romance, and friendship and to make many more. You will be able to visualize exactly what is happening because of how relatable their situations are to yours, your mind engaged in every moment.

Nonetheless, this is a historical fiction novel and, naturally, there are some incidents we will only be able to imagine. This is where our emotions become vital. It is easy to feel the love and joy that the characters experience, but there are other emotions which, to understand, we have to indulge ourselves within the words. To look beyond the text and behold the people. These emotions range from perseverance, passion, determination, and strength, to love, forgiveness, and hope. Although forgiveness, love, and hope would seem to be experienced by everyone, in this context these characters take these emotions to much greater levels. They forgive their enemies, they find the love within themselves, and they hope for a better future. After everything, this is how Daniel describes the end, "I put my arm around Rosa and hold her tight as we walk. And for the moment, I am content." (page 131)

This story expresses how difficult and yet how essential it is to forgive those who have hurt you beyond measure. It reminds us that sometimes we must forgive, not because others deserve it, but because we do. It shows us that strength in tough situations, hope for something brighter, and courage to speak your mind are attitudes you get to choose. It reminds us that no matter what we have experienced, no matter what others have done to us, and no matter what we have seen, we have control over our minds and over our decisions. It tells us that we "must choose love. Always choose love." (page 70)

We live in a world that can very easily become dark, stressful, and at times, seem hopeless. Thus, literature's ability to change our perspectives and make our world a little bit brighter becomes essential. Literature's magic becomes evident when it compels us to to think of our own experiences, dive into our emotions, and see the world more clearly than it was before we started reading. The Scorpio Races tells us how much we need passion, determination, and sacrifice, The Skipping Shoes teaches us the value of innocence and kindness, "The Sadness Of Clothes" reminds us to give grief room and allow ourselves to let it go, and Daniel's Story convinces us of the importance of love and happiness. Needless to say, inspiration can be found anywhere in literature. We just have to look, (or in this case, read!).

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