Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Somewhere better

The basic story of a young man is a quest.  He grows big enough, strong enough and hungry enough for adventure so he leaves home and goes off toward some promising place.  It may be the kingdom next door, it may be across the sea, it may be to the capital, some big city where things happen, things that are important and exciting.  Typically, as we follow this story, we begin to like the young man and hope he succeeds.  If he does succeed, we cheer and consider him a 'hero'.  You can look up Joseph Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces" to see a scholar look over the whole tradition in many different places, sources and forms.

You can sympathize with someone born with a bee under their shirt that gives them the heebie-jeebies, the itch, the certainty that they need and merit better and more exciting surroundings than they have, whatever they are.  Lynn and I both finished "Main Street", the story of a Minnesota town much like the town and the locale in which the author, Sinclair Lewis, was born. Lewis was the first of 13 Americans to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature.  The man was a writer and could make a reader feel that he was in the presence of someone he knew using just a few words.

Lewis' hero is a woman.  Lynn used to say that "lioness" was the sort of gender-laded term that we could do without.  If you want, you can call Lewis' main character a heroine.  We both concluded that the heroine definitely had adventures and had matured over the years to the extent that she could see both Gopher Prairie and the US capital city had advantages and disadvantages, that life can be joyous and tragic and wonderful and terrible in both places and anywhere else.

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