What is the purpose of a story that matters?

(picture above: I was library helper when I was in 4th grade and the librarian posted this on the school website at the time)

As a kid, the library was my safe haven.  When everyone would go outside to play, I would go to the library to read.  I read series after series after series, imagining if I were the main character’s best friend, the hero saving the day, or a princess being saved from a terrifying monster.  These books made me laugh, cry, squirm, or even get angry sometimes.  It was through the words on a page that made me realize how much I loved reading.  

But what is the purpose of a story that matters?  Stories that matter should educate, entertain, or influence the readers.  Whether its sadness, joy, anger, disgust, or fear, stories should create a reaction from the readers.  With no limit to the amount of emotion felt, the author’s job is to reel in the audience’s attention with the story’s purpose.

The House on Mango Street is a coming-of-age novel that appeals to the audience’s emotions.  The narrator Esperanza brings the readers into her world as she grows up, from being a little girl into a mature young lady by the end of the book.  In many instances throughout the book, the author includes gut-wrenching experiences that allow the readers to see the reality of Esperanza’s life.  First of all, on page 45, Esperanza cries when she get into trouble with a nun.  From reading this, the audience would feel pity and a little bit angry that Esperanza didn’t stand up for herself, even when the nun was completely wrong.  As a reader, I knew that Esperanza had good intentions, and it angered me to see that a harmless lie of hers caused her to get in trouble and cry when the nun is yelling at her.  Also, during the chapter “Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark”, the author can see Esperanza’s growing maturity as she mourns her grandfather’s death, watching her usually-strong father cry for the first time.  Many readers can relate to this pain and sorrow dealt with after one’s passing.  Even I could personally relate to Esparanza especially when she had to relay the news to her siblings, as I am the eldest of my siblings as well.  Sandra Cisneros, the author of The House on Mango Street, skillfully hooks the readers’ attentions, causing many to feel empathy or sorrow for a fictional, imaginary character.

In the New York Times article “Trump is a Great Storyteller. We Need to Be Better” , Viet T. Nguyen shares his personal experiences as an immigrant becoming a successful, award-winning author.  Through this, he influences the readers, urging them to “help America love again”.  Nguyen highlights his purpose that “America itself should be a safe and a special place” in order to emphasize the need for equal American opportunities to his audience.  

Today, I don’t read as often as I used to anymore. I’ve outgrown those Magic Tree House and Geronimo Stilton books and replaced it with Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.  Technology is shaping the minds of the future generations to come, but what’s interesting to me is that I now see my younger siblings reading the exact same books that I read when I was their age.  I see their random fits of laughter at random occasions, or their widened eyes as their adventure continues page by page.  Although a tangible, hard-copy of a book is seen as outdated now, these words still retain the same meaning.  My siblings will still fear for the hero like I did on page 54 and will laugh when the villain accidentally kills himself on page 102.  Together, these collections of words called stories catalyze a reaction from any reader, whether it be good or bad, provoking feelings and emotions toward the topic of the story.

(picture below: my brother Jackie, currently in 4th grade, reading a book from one of my favorite series when I was younger)


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