that's a pretty big number
I have heard a university professor of literature claim that there are but three types of stories: The Coming of Age, The Quest, and The Battle. But if you take Scheherazade as any indication of count, then you might say there are as many as 1001 stories. According to Google, on the other hand, there are (and I'm writing this out just for the weight of it) one hundred twenty-nine million, eight hundred sixty-four thousand, eight hundred eighty books "in the world." It's likely that the majority of these are non-fiction, but even if, say, twenty percent represents fiction, that still leaves more than twenty-five million books, many of which will be collections of stories, not to mention all the non-fiction narratives out there. Let's round up to fifty million stories, just to be safe, in the world. That's a lot more than three. That's a lot more than one, which, according to Steinbeck, is all there is. Of course, he says that all stories boil down to a battle against evil. Do we trust him? We do tend to venerate the man here at the Wall. Is his claim not true? (...which is another way to request examples of stories that transcend the labels.)
If we look again at the three stories brought up once by that university professor, they are actually three types of stories, as is good versus evil a type of story, or narrative. The Coming of Age is man vs. self, The Quest is man vs. nature or other natural and supernatural forces, and The Battle is man vs. man. When it comes right down to it, any one of those twenty-five million plus stories represents one or more of these three narrative types. Look again, and you'll see that each of these three story types is a battle against evil.
- "Do you not consider me lucky?" "How can I tell? You aren't dead yet."
- What are the categories for the life stories of the three deaths the narrator "remember[s] clearly"?
- "It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember or dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world," and I might add: "yet pleasure to ourselves."
There and Back Again
- Lee is right, as he usually is. "It's my observation that children always surprise us." However, not all boys--children--surprise in the same way. This, however, is not my point of contention (yes, point of contention!). My issue is Steinbeck's portrayal of these boys as their surrogate father walks out on them (BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HE DOES). I know kids who would have been crushed--and I don't think I know a kid who wouldn't be--by his departure, crushed exactly as if it had been a parent who left. I think this may be one of the only places I disagree with Steinbeck in his various philosophies of life. In the first moments of Lee's departure, I agree with the depiction. Yes, I can see Cal asking about tickets to the game and Aron talking about hot dogs, but in the days that follow, the loss would begin to set in, and they would feel abandoned. Knowing what little I do about Steinbeck's life, I wonder if this is perhaps beyond his realm of experience or understanding. Thoughts?
- When I first read East of Eden, laying on my hide-a-bed in my realtor's basement, my family across the country waiting for the house to finalize so we could move in, I cried twice in this chapter. I was--and it surprised me, the superlative of emotion the book brought, likely particularly so for the context of my read-- "incomparably, incredibly, overwhelmingly glad to [have Lee] home."