The Doorways of Literature | An Essay by Margaret Caffery

The Doorways of Literature  | An Essay by Margaret Caffery

Margaret Caffery is the 2nd Place Winner for Grade 11 in the 2017 Your Favorite Seton Course Essay Contest

Throughout the years of schooling that I have gone through it has been difficult to pick a favorite subject of study, but Literature is the subject I most enjoy studying. Literature in the form of novels can take you back in time or forward or to a completely different world. Literature in the form of essays can open discussion in your head of some vastly interesting, practical, or edifying topics. Literature in the form of poems can lift your mind to a special, beautiful place. There are numerous reasons literature is my favorite, so I shall narrow it down. Literature is my favorite subject because it can give you insights into the character of the time in which it was written and it can better acquaint you with the author; furthermore, as I plan to write short stories, novels, and essays, it inspires me and educates me.

Often, when thinking of a faraway time, or even of a time that is quite close, I cannot seem to think of it as real; reading literature that was written during that time helps me to connect with history. During the Civil War, America was going through a very hard time and its people were violently split, however, just learning about the facts of what happened does not always give the feeling of the times. However, reading a story or a poem written during that War can make the whole war feel very real and very close. The poem “Maryland, My Maryland”, by James Randall, does that by showing us the readiness of the South to defend its rights. Also, a time such as the 1920’s, can be hard to understand, but novels such as Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis, offer an accurate presentation of the mindset of the time. Another example is that poem by James Riley, “When Frost is on the Punkin”, which contains many examples of Indiana dialect which mirrored the interest of the people of that time in “local color”. Literature can communicate the spirit of the times to people who read it.

The second reason for choosing American Literature is that it grants you a unique look at the author himself. Authors will put their philosophies, theories, and personalities into their works, so reading their stories, poems, and essays is a good way to learn about the author. One of Washington Irving’s essays, titled “The Author’s Account of Himself” shows the author’s patriotism towards America as well as his admiration of European cultures. In Walt Whitman’s poem, called “A Noiseless, Patient Spider”, Walt reveals the search of his soul for truth by comparing it to a spider that endlessly shoots out webs, trying to catch hold of something solid. Emily Dickinson, in her poem “He Ate and Drank the Precious Words”, shows how much respect and love she has for books by telling us how a book can free one’s spirit. Literature can give us a clear understanding of an author’s life.

In the present and in the future, I plan to be writing and Literature will help by having me read and analyze the works of intelligent and talented authors. By studying the styles, word choices, and other aspects of their writing I can familiarize myself with good techniques, and hopefully use them. I can learn the difference between good writing, mediocre writing, and bad writing by studying the good writing in the American Literature course. When I read literature that is beautiful and shows a truth in a new light I am inspired to write something that is also beautiful. After all, just as no student of music would call himself a true student without studying great composers, no student of literature should call himself one without studying the literature of good writers that have come before him.

A few of the many reasons American Literature is my favorite subject is because of the closeness it provides with history and the way the author shows the reader his mind; also, it inspires me to continue writing my own stories. Literature written by an author in a certain era or about that era can transport your mind to that era. Furthermore, by reading an author’s writings we can become more familiar with the author himself. Finally, this course spurs on my own literary ambitions. Literature can open many doorways to places, to people, and in myself.

About Margaret Caffery

Margaret Caffery is in eleventh grade with Seton Home Study School. Her favorite subjects are Literature and English. She sings and plays flute for Mass and plays piano for fun. She likes to read G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and many others. She likes to write short stories and novels and has taken part in Nanowrimo for three years. Traveling is one of her favorite things to do, even though she has not done very much of it. She plans to attend college, but is unsure of her major.

1 Comment

  1. Immanuel Portus

    Congratulations Margaret!
    Thanks for showing us how literature sheds fresh insight on history and the writing craft.

    Keep it up!


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