We learn about hardships and overcoming through literature
“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
― C.S. Lewis,
“if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.”
― C.S. Lewis,
“When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy – if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this easily managed.”
― C.S. Lewis,
Hardship is a universal word. Overcoming hardship is a an eternal goal. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t fade or isn’t a fad. We can all relate to having trials. The Bible says this about trials:
2 Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
3 Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4 But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.- James 1
Every human being can relate to having difficulty, but there is something peculiar about us humans. WE get stuck on the idea that ‘we are the only one’. Adversity seems to isolate. Once we are neck deep in a trial, we keep it to ourselves. Smile, put on a happy face and don’t let anyone know what you are going through or only focus on what everyone else around you is doing. “No one is told anyone’s story but their own,” Aslan says in The Horse and His boy, a line I quoted many times to my children. They understood the concept because we had read the book (more than once).
Children and teens seem to suffer from the ‘woe is me’, it’s only me’ syndrome even more than adults. That is where reading aloud comes in. Reading about characters who suffer adversity and overcome gives parents great fodder for discussion. It gives us a starting point and some common ground to build on.
In the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum, Daniel Schwabauer teaches that a great adventure novel must alternate between disasters and dilemmas. Great literature employs a leap frogging between the two and so does real life. People don’t often put the sequence into words. We are remotely aware that we are under stress. Reading about others experiencing disasters and dilemmas helps us understand our own problems. The book of James tells us that disasters and dilemmas (trials and temptations) can grow our faith, produce endurance and patience and when these have done the work, we will be perfectly and fully developed.
A well developed character in literature has a change in character. No one wants to read about a character who doesn’t overcome anything. Boring. Why do we want to read literature with character change, i.e. disasters and dilemmas? Because we want the to be part of the universal nobody Emily Dickinson refers to:
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
which in essence means, we are all in this together. Reading aloud allows us to join the great conversation and in joining it we can learn to overcome adversity together.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor and Three Word Wednesday. Join us!