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Literature Essay

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Look Beyond

Imagine only having feelings of happiness; you have left behind all the scars of the past and now accept yourself for who you are. No more sorrowful memories of pain and regrets. All that remains is acceptance of the past and looking forward to the future. It all starts with experience, which plays an integral role in shaping the person you are today, through other people's experiences, we are able to mature.[a] We have all had experiences that have had a profound impact on us and we may look to literature for healing. .For this reason, we are able to find relief from being  able to relate to characters of literary works.[b] As a result, readers are reminded that they are not alone in their experiences. By showing that people are able to face challenges and overcome adversities, literature shows the tenacity of the human spirit. This is well exemplified in novels such as The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and also other short stories of fiction where the main characters are able to heal the scars of the past, ultimately contributing to his or her maturation and development. In this way, literature has the ability to heal the scars of our past to a great extent.

Literature acts as a study guide and an inspiration on how we can react to the scars of our past. Rainbow Rowell the author of Eleanor and Park sheds light on the negative aspects of life through another person’s hardship. The author illustrates a picture in the reader’s mind of a sophomore girl named Eleanor, a new student attending the same highschool of this other guy named Park. Rowell describes Eleanor’s personal experience as a terrifying one. “That girl- all of them- hated Eleanor before they’d even laid eyes on her. Like they’d been hired to kill her in a past life. Eleanor couldn’t tell if the Asian kid who finally let her sit down was one of them, or whether he was just really stupid” ( Rowell 11). This quote describes the nature of how  life can be like in a high school environment. At times, life in highschool can be tormenting but there may be positive aspects that come along.It showed how social status was highly valued in Park’s high school. There was a clear distinction between Eleanor who was known as the “Big red” girl because of her puffy red curls and Tina known as “the popular” girl in school. Eleanor acknowledges that she is different from those of her classmates on the school bus and she didn’t like the idea that the guy sitting beside her would be categorized as an outcast. Park didn’t enjoy the fact that this new girl was sitting beside him, it brought up fear in his mind.. What really inspired me was when the author described how Eleanor reacted to people ridiculing her. “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice. It was supposed to make you feel something.” Eleanor inspired me to have a positive outlook on life by not worrying about what people perceive you as but to just accept who you are. The author took away the fear of alienation by showing how you are the controller of your own life and are able to have a new way of thinking” (Rowell 165). As a reader, my initial thoughts on bullying was destroyed. I had always believed that bullying was something that would lead teenagers or children to suicide. After reading the novel, I was challenged yet inspired of the way Eleanor had taken in the situation. Instead of putting the blame on herself, she recognizes that she is different and loves herself for how unlike she is to those of her classmates.

Although Eleanor had taken in people’s insults with an optimistic mindset, it doesn’t change the fact that bullying still exists to this day. In a news story in 2012, it describes a teenager’s experience with bullying. A sophomore from Michigan called Whitney Kropp went through hardship when her own classmates pulled horrible tricks on her. Likewise to Eleanor’s situation, this bullying story had turned into a success. Whitney Kropp’s experience acted as a light to those that may be struggling with a similar situation. A group of girls had helped shed light addressing the public that everyone has their own flaws and that they should not be discriminated due to outer appearance or social status. Personally, I am able to relate to Eleanor in a way. In grade 9, I was terrified of entering high school. I thought that those that surrounded me hated me just because of my presence. On grade 9 orientation day, I thought the friends that I made that day would always stick by my side all the way through high school. My ideal thought was wrong, I no longer hang out with those people. They have now been labelled as part of the “popular” group. I am able to relate this back to Brian’s statement during the Seminar discussion when he brought up fear of alienation. Although I felt the fear of being left all alone, to this day, I am able to say that the idea of fear seen in my novel has inspired me to see light in all situations.Eleanor’s story ties back to my inquiry question to how people are able to heal the scars of their past. Thus, the implication I have drawn from Eleanor’s and Whitney's experience is that literature has the ability to heal the scars of our past through another person’s past adversity and has also strengthened me mentally.

Literature has the capability of making us more optimistic and it desensitizes the way we feel about our own life. For example, in the essay “ I’m a Banana and proud of it,” Wayson Choy states, “ I don’t mind being called a “banana,” yellow on the outside and white on the inside. I’m proud I’m a banana.” (Choy). [c] After the death of his parents, Choy analyzes the history of different races.[d] In the end of the story Choy enforces the idea that you can be of any race and take pride in your ethnic background even in North America[e]. Although he found it hard to identify himself as both North American and Chinese, he comes to the realization that he is proud of being Chinese. I was truly inspired and it gave me a positive outlook coming from a mixed background of Hong Kong and India. Likewise, when I was in Grade 4, one memory stood out to me. As a child, I grew up going to Bayview Glen Church. One day, I had heard my counsellor referring to me as “the little Chinese girl”. It bothered me because I didn’t enjoy being referred to as Chinese. The fact that I was Chinese troubled me enough to start questioning why I was from a Chinese background. After reading this short story, I was able to let go of the grudges towards my counsellor. In this way, literature has taught me how to love and adapt to my culture. Hence, literature has helped heal my childhood experiences to a great extent.[f]



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