The Affects of a Story

img_5066Story: an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. This is the definition of a story. It is short and to the point, but it does not cover all aspects of a story. It doesn’t convey how stories are created from the UNIQUE experiences of a person which is then passed down from one person to another; a story never truly dies. It doesn’t state the idea that a story can impact a person in varying ways including emotions and their outlook on life and the things around them. The definition makes a story sound so small and insignificant like it is just a little spot on the radar that is life, but in reality it something much more important than that. It is how we learn and express ourselves. It is how we grow mentally and communicate. Our life is one bug story, with new chapters being added each day. And once our story ends then other can learn from it, whether it be about our joys or mistakes. It is there to guide and that cycle continues forever.

Throughout my childhood and even to this day, I was always surrounded by stories whether they be legends of mythical creatures that lived in the sky or sweet fairy tales of a prince swooping in to rescue the princess. But the one thing that all the stories had in common was that they all ended with a happy ending. This affected my view of life by giving me a positive outlook. I thought life was basically a fairy tale where the good guy always conquered the villain. As I grew up, I began to realize that life wasn’t as clear-cut as I had made it out to be during my childhood. That stories had twists and turn and ups and downs and not every story had a happy ending to it. The stories that I began listening to became a little darker and my make-believe reality slowly began to crumble. I realized that reality wasn’t always good and it opened my eyes to the issues around me that I previously refused to acknowledge.

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Once I became a teenager, I grew in interest in my parents’ and grandparents’ anecdotes of their life back in Vietnam, the hardships they had to face to escape, and the uncertainty they felt once they arrived in the US. After listening to all the obstacles that they had to overcome, it gave me a sense of motivation to work hard and achieve my goals. In The House on Mango Street, the main character, Esperanza, listens to stories of trapped women who were miserable with how their life turned out. She hears a story about her grandma who, “looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on their elbow” (Cisneros 11). After hearing her grandmother’s story, Esperanza concludes that she does not want to become her grandmas. She states, “Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window” (Cisneros 11). The story affects her in a way that causes her to decide early on in her life that she will not allow anything to hold her back. This did not just refer to a person, but also to Mango Street in general, a place that she was so desperate to get out of because she realized that their was no place to grow and prosper. It was a dead-end.

The same story can be interpreted in various ways by different people. There is never just one interpretation of a story and that is the beauty of story telling. It is able to reach out to so many people in a way that is specific to them. I distinctly remember a legend that my grandma used to tell my sister and I about a woman trapped in the moon. In the legend, a woman had been banished to live in the moon for all eternity after she had angered the gods. She eventually got back into the gods’ favor and the gave her the responsibility of controlling the tides and the stars. I absolutely loved hearing that story and would ask my grandma to repeat over and over again. I thought that the story conveyed a message of forgiveness and second chances. My sister on the other hand, saw it as an injustice. She believed that no one being should have the power to decide between right and wrong without listening to their entire testament first. The two different interpretations that was offered by my sister and I also reflected our personalities. She was very rebellious growing up and still is to this day. She struggles with authority and that can be seen in her perception of the story. I, on the other hand, was always the calmer and reasonable one and that can be seen through my understanding of the tale.

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©peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Each person has had unique experiences in their life and through those experiences, they create stories that are shared and passed down. These stories are meant cause an impact on a person through their underlying message(s). In a TED talk by Snighda Banda she recounts her first year of teaching poverty-stricken children in elementary schools about science. After a lockdown occurred during one of the day she was teaching in class, she told her students that if they ever needed to talk to her about anything at all that she was available after class. The kids took her up on her offer and began telling her their stories. Many of them told stories of abuse and hunger. Snighda Banda never experienced any of the issues that they were going through first hand, but their stories impacted her in a way that allowed her to be able to connect with the children. She listened to the children and learned their likes and dislikes and used that to help the students focus and actually enjoy the class. It allowed her to realize how lucky she was and how a child’s environment can really affect their mentality. According to Banda, many of the children thought that the environment that they were in was normal because it was all they knew. She emphasized the idea of a circle of obligation that we usually keep closed off to only the people we hold closest to us, but as we begin to open up that circle, we are able to connect with more people and therefore be able to help more people who are in need.

Different people enjoy different types of genres when it comes to stories, movies, etc. This is because these various genres bring out different emotions in a person. Stories are meant to make a person feel. They are meant to jerk tears from our eyes or make our hearts race with fright. In a short film called ReMoved, the plot follows the story of a girl who is living in a toxic environment. She must shoulder much of the responsibilities of her household. Eventually she is taken away from her home, separated from her brother and placed in the foster care system. We follow her through her differnt homes and the bullying she faces at school and it is sad. Many people cannot directly relate to what she is going through, but they feel a sense of pity and sadness for the girl. This shows that emotions are directly connected to stories. The author pours their own emotions into their stories and the audience recieves that and also makes their audience emotional.

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