Whatis the Purpose of Literature?
Literatureis a narration and vivid presentation of human experiences. Writersand readers seek for knowledge through written works and compare thepresented ideas with their life. Literature is essential as itcaptures the inner moods and thoughts, interprets human experiences,and enables us to comprehend various events that we encounter inlife.
Accordingto Leland Ryken (24), literature exposes writers’ feelings andattitude towards certain subjects. Muller Huerta’s Landof Green Applesdepicts the traumatic experiences of young men in pursuit ofeducation under the leadership of a brutal dictator. “Whenwe don’t speak, said Edgar, we become unbearable, and when we do,we make fools of ourselves” (Muller, 1). The author describes thelives of energetic and optimistic young people whose ambitions hadturned into sadness due to fear. Georg, Edgar, Kurt, and the narratorsilently speak about hope and freedom. The narrator speaks ofgraveyards, barbers, and sick mothers while referring to the peopleof Romania as wooden melons and sheep. Although the topics seem to beunconnected, they symbolize the life of misery that yields nothingmeaningful but sadness and hope for a better tomorrow.
Literatureoffers interpretations on human experiences and how God and naturecontrol life. We are therefore able to appreciate the meaning andvalue life. Similarly, through reading and listening to literaryworks, we understand the reality of human fear, values, and desires(Ryken, 26). Szymborska highlights how mankind has no control overhis life. “Whoever claims that it’s omnipotent/ishimself living proof/that it’s not/There’sno life/thatcouldn’t be immortal/ifonly for a moment./Deathalways arrives by that very moment too late./Invain it tugs at the knobofthe invisible door./As far as you’ve come/can’tbe undone” (Szymborska,Baranczak, and Cavanaghm, 189).The poet highlights how human life is delicate and not permanent. Sheprepares her readers for the inevitable death. From the text, welearn that God controls our lives, actions, and determines our fate.As a result, we gain an understanding of the reality of nature andpsychological impacts of death on our loved ones.
Literatureenhances awareness by influencing our thoughts and experiences. Byreading stories or poems, we understand the world around us.“Literature gives shape and expressions our own experiences,insight, and values” (Ryken, 27).Besides fostering self-awareness,we understand other people’s behaviors and intentions through otherpeople’s writings. As a result, our thinking abilities are evokedto explore greater ideas and issues around our lives. In TheBirthday Partyby Harold Pinther, silence is used as a language to manipulate otherpeople’s understanding of events happening around. “Well- it’s very, very nice to be here tonight, in my house, and I wantto propose a toast to Stanley, because it’s his birthday, and he’slived here for a long while now, and he’s my Stanley now…(shesobs)” (Pinther, act 1 ). Meg’s speech indicates that she adeeper affection for Stanley although he treats her in a cruelmanner. Evidently, the words people speak give a deeper meaning ofwhat they do not say. Therefore, literature teaches us to seekfor understanding in speeches, as they tend to hide the truth. Bysobbing after giving her speech, Meg shows that we communicate betterthrough silence as we try to keep our secrets uncovered.
Inconclusion, literature is an important aspect of life because itdepicts people’s fears, thoughts, and moods. Moreover, it enablesus to comprehend various events and give meaning to life experiences.Finally, through literature, we enhance our thinking and shape ourperceptions of other people’s actions and speeches.
Muller,Herta. TheLand of Green Plums.Northwestern University Press, 1998.
Pinter,Harold. TheBirthday Party.Faber&Faber, 2013.
Ryken,Leland. Windowsto the World: Literature in Christian Perspective: Literature inChristian Perspective.Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000.
Szymborska,Wislawa, Baranczak, Stanislaw, and Cavanaghm, Clare. Poems,New and Collected, 1957-1997.Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.