Theworks of literature are developed to represent the real word inseveral ways that the author intendsto send the message to the readers. According to Forster (1),understanding the meaning which sometimes isdeeply hiddenwithin the words require a criticaland open-mindedapproach to the texts. In this case, looking at the literature andthe literary codes help discover the hidden truth. However, toachieve the intended meaning in every piece of literature, Foster (4)establishes that one should primarily set to identify the quest.Consequently, leaders acquire an informed, enriching and fun coursein understanding the world. In this paper, three literary works usedwhile the studyisevaluatedonthe elements discussed in the book “How to Read Literature Like aProfessor,” revised edition (2014) by Thomas Foster. Itis only through critical analysis of literature that a reader can getthe meaning underlying the explained events and their significance inpeople’s lives.
Thefirst work is the Anonymous’ “Diaryof an Oxygen Thief (2016). In this story, anarratoris a young man who finds pleasure in hurting women. For this reason,he fakeslove and then breakstheir heart once the women have fallen for him. According toAnonymous (3),He loved hurting girls mentally,and he would engage them just to pursue the desire.
Lookingat this story from just any angle does not differentiate it fromother works of fiction whose basis and reasons are all beyond humanpossibilities. However, as Foster (4) explains, one can only achieveidentifying the quester within the story among other importantelements in literature. The quester here is narrator while hisintended destination or outcome is hurting girls. The challenge thatoccursin this story as explained by Foster in his guide is that thingsoverturn when the narrator fell in love with the woman whoreciprocated all the hurtful things he did to other girls back tohim. Moreover, as Foster (5) explains that these challenges aremeant to enable the questertoreach a place or destination. In the “Diary of Oxygen Thief,” thenarrator could understand how he the women he mistreated for noreason felt. Probably, he felt guilty,and this could be the reason that he likens himself with a serialkiller yet he only hurt women mentally not physically.
Anotherimportant thing to note in reading literature as explained by Foster(15) is that reading makes sense when the story isfitin reality. Evidently, the story by Anonymous may come out as gothicfiction about a cult and therefore not so important. However, puttingthis story in the reality of most people (Foster15-17) gets thereaders understand that a significant number of men in modern worldtakes women for granted, misuse them, and finally breaktheir heart the way narratordid to Jennie, Liz,and Catherine. In this case, putting the story into reality helpscritically fill the gaps in a puzzle and come up with a clear meaningof the story.
Similarly,in the second story “To build a fire” (2008) by Jack London,deriving the meaning requires one to fit the story intoreality.In this story, a hiker set out for hiking in cold weather despitehaving been warned by an old man who advised him not to be in thesnow when temperature are fifty degrees below zero” (London 2). Hewent up in the snow and ended up lighting several fires as asolution.As the story progresses, the reason for setting the fire advancesfrom the needfor drying his lower body to need for survival later in the storywhen he realized the old man he referred to as “old timer” wasright. Understanding this story demands knowledge on symbolism to“get what it does means and what it stands for” (Foster 45). Moreimportantly to get the particular meaning the author intended. Theauthor uses cold and a unique presentation of details in the storyregarding the power and the forces of nature that reducethe hiker to a level of relative insignificance. Similarly, some lifechallenged reduce people to the levelof suffering when caution isdisregarded.
Stillin the story, when it is not about symbolism in this story, it is anallegory.In the story, things have been used to represent other things,and through such understanding, the readers get the meaning of thestory (Eagleton2-5). For instance, the author explained that the hiker was “used to thelack of sun” to represent resilience to some challenges.
Theother story is “A Separate Peace” (1977) by John Knowles. In thispsychological story, the author documented his experience inpursuance of individuality against the forces of conformity. Hisactions, however, disturbed other in preparatory school as theyseemed not normal. For instance, Knowles would use his tie as a beltand would go public about his feeling for Gene when other people heldsuch matters to be private (Knowles 2-4). All these explained why heemerged differentlyfrom other kids. Reading this story between the lines andcontemplating all explained events reveal other meaning applicable insocial life (Eagleton3).Also,readers can get to discover some hidden meaning significant todeveloping children in character development.
Inconclusion, it is evident fromthe three stories that understanding the original author’s meaningin a text requires professionalism particularly by criticallyanalyzing the elements used, the objectives and the characters. Moreimportantly. Shifting the story from the text into one’s life canopen more opportunities for understanding what they mean. Asa result,readers can get an informed, and enriched approach to life’sexperience and challenges as inspired by literature works.
Anonymous. Diaryof an Oxygen Thief.Place of publication not identified: Corsair, 2017. Print.
Eagleton,Terry. Howto Read Literature.New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. Print.
Foster,Thomas C. Howto Read Literature Like a A Lively and Entertaining Guideto Reading between the Lines.New York: Harper Perennial, 2014. Print.
Knowles,John. ASeparate Peace.Mattoon, Ill: Spectrum Educational Media, 1977
London,Jack. ToBuild a Fire.Mankato, Minn: Creative Education, 2008. Print.