Faulkner's Writer's Duty In Growing Up

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On December 10, 1950, William Faulkner delivered his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Today his speech is considered one of the most brilliant and inspiring speeches ever to be read at the Nobel ceremony. Faulkner stressed the "writer's duty" to write only of "the old verities and truths of the heart." He spoke of avoiding writing anything that is not worth writing about. He felt concerned about new writing where authors gave in to America's shallow desires to read "not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity of compassion." Faulkner wanted his optimistic views on life to be reflected in all writing and the optimism within the "courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity" to assist the human spirit in conquering and becoming something more than it was before. Why is it that writing today lacks so much of the substance that Faulkner speaks about? Is it the American population's desire for unreachable fantasies? Within the thousands of books that are deficient in truth and are willing to be temporarily "blown up", there are some books that fulfill many of Faulkner's wishes—one of these books is Growing Up by Russell Baker. Somewhere between the truthful descriptions of people, the honest opinions of work and adulthood, and the pressure to "make something of himself", Russell Baker fills in many of the potholes left from much of today's writing. The voice of a child is the human spirit that Faulkner hopes to grasp in modern writing. The innocence creates depth and reminds the reader of themselves. After seeing his father in a car, about to go to the hospital, Russell describes his father as "…wearing his blue serge suit, white shirt, and necktie, and [he] looked alright to me." This captures the innocence Faulkner wants to see more of. His description is so unaware and truthful and it seems as though the reader could have said it when they were younger. The description is frank, not metaphorical, complex, or insightful. The insight is left up to the reader. The quote is also affective because it does not glorify his father or himself. Unlike many readers who embellish their stories, making family members (and, in particular, themselves) look better, Baker leaves himself susceptible to being judged as immature and as treating a grave situation (his father's sickness) as though it was unimportant.

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