The Importance of Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness
Today's society contains stories that model the ideal life that each individual lives each day. Stories may shape our mind in creative and positive ways that may enlighten the road towards the future. They have been examples for us to survive by and thrive on for decades: in the past, and now, continuing in the future. People around the world have been told stories that may have influenced their lives in a unique way. Children long to be enlightened by stories that fill their young and fruitful minds, allowing thoughts and new ideas to be instilled. Throughout the worlds' cultures and literature, stories have influenced the actions and morals of man with their underlying meaning. This can be explained in various examples.
The human race has told stories since the beginning of time. These stories may have had a major impact upon the individual's actions, as well as influencing the way people chose to live their lives. Looking back, you can find stories' origins ranging from a variety of places. Tales of how the prince rescues the day and saves the world could be found in children's books, while in the Bible you find how God worked in the lives of His disciples. Extricating the meaning and point of the story may be easily done or become an extremely arduous task. However, individuals are given the choice to accept this moral, or point, and apply it to their own lives.
In the book Heart of Darkness, a story within a story is being told. The character, Marlow, is telling the story of Kurtz to legitimize his role in the events that are taking place. A downside to this approach is that the reader only hears rumors and accounts about this mysterious figure, Kurtz, before actually meeting him. Kurtz remains an unknown and enigmatic character in Marlow's mind.
However, Marlow has heard so much about him through the stories that have been shared that Kurtz seems to become a distant friend.
"I looked at him, lost in astonishment his very existence was improbable, inexplicable, and all together bewildering." (Conrad 90)
At first Marlow was speechless to finally have met this seemingly "idol." Yet, after having spent time with Kurtz and getting to know his character, Marlow finds out for himself that Kurtz really was not the person that the stories had described him to be. Heart of Darkness is an accurate example of how stories can be a negative impact upon an individual. An accumulation of false information can be deceiving, as well as, misgiving- and in Marlow's case, disappointing.
As told in the story Things Fall Apart, in Ibo culture, male and female stories perpetrate the social classes- separating men and women.
"So Okonkwo told them stories of the land- masculine stories of violence and bloodshed. Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell" (Achebe 53)
In a utopian society, the "masculine," violent stories would not be needed because the society is tranquil. Yet, for realistic cultures, masculine stories are important to keep people from being naïve. These stories prepare people for the "survival of the fittest" type of outlook and reality.
The function of stories is to explain the "whys" and "hows" of what society has done. They may arise out of people's belief and faith, therefore they cannot be disproved- only accepted or rejected. Stories have many functions; to strengthen one's ability and motivation to become a significant person, give an example that may allow one to become more cautious, enlighten an individual in countless number of ways, or even hinder a person and cause controversy.
Whatever the purpose or meaning that stories entail, they have allowed individuals and ordinary people to become influenced and fashioned by their unique function.
Stories are extremely important in today's culture, as much as they have been for the past's as well. We, as people, need to recognize how stories may have the power to adjust or educate the human race in an effective way. I personally challenge today's society to dig deeper- and attempt to understand that underlying meaning placed in-between the lines in the stories of the past, present, and future that will come.
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