Author’s Messages in Fiction

While I’m a Psychology major in school, I’m graduating this semester and there weren’t any Psychology courses that I was really interested in taking that would fit with the schedule that I wanted to arrange for myself this semester.  Even though I was only taking my Honors Psych class that I had to take, I still wanted to take enough credits to be a full time student, so I took a few other classes that I thought would be interesting.  This semester I took an Intro Philosophy class (which I ended up dropping because I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I thought I would), Literature of Ancient Greece (which is fantastic because of an amazing teacher), and Fiction Appreciation.

One of the books that we’re reading for my Fiction Appreciation class is The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.  I’ll put up a full review of the book when I’m done with it, but for now I’d like to talk about something that came up in class the other day.  There was a character in the book who was talking about Marxist ideals and preaching for a more socialistic society. During our discussion of this chapter during the class we weren’t sure how it fit into the overall plot of the book.  Our prof that day (who was not our normal professor) led us to talk about how this part of the book may have been the author’s own voice coming through.  I think to a large extent an author’s views will naturally come through when they’re writing a book, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have a character stand up in the book and announce how they feel on a certain topic.  After we were discussing this chapter, one of the other students in the class asked if we would still be reading the book if it weren’t for this class.  Thinking about this afterwards, the last book that I actually stopped reading was in large part because of this.

The last book I put down was Shadow’s Edge, the second book in Brent Weeks Night Angel Trilogy.  I won’t spoil too much about the book or the series, but I really enjoyed the first 200 pages of the first book (to the point that I read them in one sitting) but after that the book really slowed down and the main character never developed at all.  Even with this, I made myself finish the first book.  After taking some time out to read George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire before starting to read the second book in Weeks’ series.  The second book suffered from the same problems as the first book for me, but I hit a point in the book where two of the characters are talking and they’re bringing up religion and how important it is to the one character.  I thought that this had no relevance to the story (it wasn’t mentioned at all in the first book) and irritated me to the point where I put the book down and never looked at it again.

Anytime like this that characters stop and make a long speech about any topic this is a big risk that the author runs of irritating readers.  I’m all good with an author having a theme in mind, in some cases this can be a religious theme or a social theme, but don’t have a character stand and preach to me what you believe, because to be honest, I don’t care what you believe.

Either way, lets get back to the original point, as it relates to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter we’ll see how this scene relates to the rest of the book.  Hopefully it pays off some way, otherwise I think I’m going to be really irritated with how this books ends.

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