A life in literature is worth living

Anna Wells

As an English major, I am exposed to more novels than the average student. Despite the fact that I might not necessarily enjoy all the works I read, I have respect for the authors and their works. From O’Connor’s gothic Southern novels to Spenser’s beautifully written “The Faerie Queene,” I enjoy the entire spectrum of the literary scope.

I knew at a young age that literature would always play an important role in my life. I didn’t grow up with a TV in my room, so while most kids were staying up late watching “Hey Arnold!” or “The Cosby Show,” I was under the covers with a flashlight reading The Great Illustrated Classics of Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” While I enjoyed the stories, it wasn’t until I got to college when I began to realize that literature was more than just stories.

One day in my American literature class during my sophomore year, my teacher posed a question about Hemingway’s short story cycle “In Our Time” that caused the class to pause. “How is Nick able to carry on?” she asked us. Nick Adams, the protagonist of the cycle, had fought in WWI and returned broken from the war. It was a rudimentary question, and yet it was one that I knew would be of importance to my friend sitting beside me. “Nick might be lost, but it is the power of human connection, the idea of knowing that we are never truly alone, that makes Nick able to carry on,” someone said. It was an inspiring quote for me and for the girl next to me who had just lost both her parents. The solace that she was unable to find in life she found through Hemingway’s words. It was the message of the stories that gave her peace, which proved to me how powerful literature really is. Reading literature is more than a simple pastime. It can truly enrich and inspire lives.

If you can change one life, teach one lesson from the study of literature, then it will always be a subject that is worthwhile. And this is why I believe the study of literature will always be important. As long as there are people willing to listen, literature will always have a message to speak.