Stories Give Life (and Give it Meaning)

When you listen to someone tell a story, it’s sort of like you get to live a small part of someone else’s life.  It could be the life of the storyteller, of a fictional person, or of someone else who first told the story.  In Andrea Barrett’s short story “The Behavior of the Hawkweeds,” from her collection Ship Fever, stories are hugely important.  The story that Antonia tells of her grandfather, Tati, is how she keeps him alive.

When a story belongs to someone else, telling it properly becomes a responsibility.  Richard tells the story of Tati the most, having gotten it from Antonia.  Telling it properly, then, is something that he owes Antonia in return for her giving him partial ownership of the story.  In actuality, however, the story belongs to Tati.  He first told the story to Antonia, who in turn told it to Richard, who in turn tells it to his students.  The responsibility, then, that Richard and Antonia both bear is to tell Tati’s story properly, especially since he is no longer around to tell it himself.  When Antonia stops Richard from telling Sebastian the story, instead herself telling it the way it should be told, she does so because of what Tati meant to her.  Sebastian will get the details either way, but for Antonia, her grandfather lives on through the story, and to tell it wrong is to devalue his life.

I think our lives are really in a large part a series of stories.  Since we cannot be everywhere at once, stories become vital to getting to know people, and experiencing life with them.  Part of what makes life extraordinary are the stories that we live through and get to share for years afterward.  I think that is why it matters so much to Antonia that Tati’s story be told right.  Though Sebastian thinks that Antonia tries to flirt with him, I think in reality she just wanted to hear his stories, and in doing so receive a small piece of a life.



~ by ethanbdixius on February 9, 2014.

2 Responses to “Stories Give Life (and Give it Meaning)”

  1. I really enjoyed your blog post. The ideas you bring up also tie into the ideas that come along with cloning. If stories are an integral part to our being, than two clones living out different lives and thus different stories will be massively different.

  2. I think your subscription to the idea that stories give meaning to life is very true. Our humanity is dependent on each other’s humanity. I am human, because of the experiences made possible by others in my life and society as a whole, as I make those people human by being on the other end of the relationship. It really adds to the saying “no man is an island”.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: