How do stories affect a person’s life or perspective?
Stories have a lesson behind them, and they often remain in our conscience to help us differentiate between right and wrong. They affect our everyday choices, and clarify what is seen through our eyes. They can also help us escape into a different world for a while. A world of magic. A world of peace. A world of our own.
A story never has to be told through words. It can be told through music, images, gestures, and many other ways. In the House on Mango Street, when Esperanza watched the wooden box open, “Then he starts it up and all sorts of things start happening. It’s like all of a sudden he let go a million moths all over the dusty furniture and swan-neck shadows and hin our bones. It’s like drops of water. Or like marimbas only with a funny little plucked up sound to it like if you were running your fingers across the teeth of a metal comb… This, the old man says shutting the lid, this ain’t for sale” (Cisneros, 20) This scenario portrays how valuable the box is, first using imagery, and then when the old man refused to sell it. The dusty, old box that no one else would have paid attention to, had a story of its own.
Sharing the sensation with a certain character can cause depression and hatred towards the real world. Often times people ask, “Why couldn’t my life be like a movie?” or “When is my prince charming going to come and sweep me off my feet?” It is rare to find these scenarios occurring in our normal lives. “Through story, we can pretend to be somebody else or go somewhere else, without taking on the risks or expense ourselves. We can even do the impossible, like travel through time or explore the universe” (Turlington). However, fantasies may lead to dissatisfaction of one’s life, especially if the REAL world is often times disappointing and difficult to deal with. For example, “Rafaela leans out the window and leans on her elbow and dreams her hair is like Rapunzel’s” (Cisneros, 20). Fairytales higher our expectations. Rafaela lives a sorrowful life. She wishes that she could climb down on her hair from the window, and ride away with her prince. Instead of taking action, we imagine. Isn’t that what stories teach us? Cinderella’s fairy godmother shows up, and poof, she is gorgeous; Aladdin made a wish, and poof he became a prince. We dream of the day that our own genie, that our own fairy godmother would show up. But, that day never arrives. We are left sitting by a window, instead of actually working and earning.
Esperanza was different from her relatives. She was never tied down to a man, and always chose to be independent. She learned to soar up high, alone, through her writing. “You just remember to keep writing, Esperanza. You must keep writing. It will keep you free, and I said yes, but at that time I didn’t know what she meant” (Cisneros, 61). Stories are made to learn from. Many seem pointless, but there is always a lesson, even if it may be hidden. “Ultimately, despite being often disregarded as fictitious, and even as a lesser form of narrative, folk tales are excellent case studies for cross-cultural comparisons and studies on human behaviour, including cooperation, decision making, [and so on]” (Piggott). For Esperanza, it was stories of her family members, her friends, and her neighbors that changed her perspective on life. These helped strengthen her personality, and articulate her mindset. She was the only person in the story, who didn’t just dream but DID.
“To bring to life that transcending purpose.”
The line of heritage and identity define a massive part of a person’s story. They may even affect how they perceive someone else’s story, or how they may tell their own. In The House on Mango Street, Esperanza describes, “His name was Geraldo. And his home is in another country. The ones he left behind are far away, will wonder, shrug, remember” (Cisneros, 66), and then later on talks about Sally, “Sally is the girl with eyes like Egypt and nylons the color of smoke… Sally, who taught you to paint your eyes like Cleopatra?” (Cisneros, 81). Geraldo was new. He was able to change his identity in front of others, and perhaps his actions and stories. But, he would never be able to change his history, which made up about more than one-third of his story so far. “Stories preserve our own history and culture, passing it along in a form that’s easy to remember to the next generation” (Turlington). Sally, on the other hand, has a magnificent history that I share with her. She stood out to me the most because her story is unique, yet she doesn’t talk about it much. She doesn’t express the value of her lineage; instead, she seems to push aside her story, and hold it in.
Stories define us.
Believing that your story is irrelevant or pointless, is how a story dies. Many pass on stories to younger generations to keep alive a memory of a person who died. But, if a story isn’t expressed, then the story dies with the person who held it last.“You could close your eyes and you wouldn’t have to worry what people said because you never belonged here anyway and nobody could make you sad and nobody would think you’re strange because you like to dream and dream” (Cisneros, 83). You could have had the chance to affect someone’s decision, or maybe even change someone’s life, but not sharing ruined that chance. No mistake is worse.
Doug was stuck on the elevator, thinking nothing could be worse. However, Herb shares his story about being in the Vietnam War to motivate Doug and calm him down. Even though the story was a lie, it changed Doug’s perspective by illustrating a worse situation.
A story can provide motivation and encouragement. It doesn’t have to be from someone you love, or even know. A story can be revealed by a total stranger, yet its impact will be just as powerful. Even a tree has its own story and motivation, “Their strength is secret. Let one forget his reason for being, they’d all droop like tulips in a glass, each with their arms around each other…They teach” (Cisneros, 75). A story can save a life or ruin a life. It can persuade or dissuade. It can help or destroy. It can provide or take. It can change you and me.