Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Favorite Story

All stories are retold, over and over, but some are better than others. One of my favorites is that of a boy who begins in a position of weakness and ignorance. A person of wisdom comes along and instructs the boy in how to develop strength and wisdom. The mentor dies, leaving the boy to wonder how he can possibly go on without his teacher to guide him. Meanwhile, the enemy begins his attack. Seeing that all is lost if no one counters the attack, the boy rises up out of his grief and leads his men into battle.

We see this story in so many different places and yet it never grows old. Star Wars followed this plot very literally. We also see it in The Neverending Story. The book Holes follows this plot, somewhat, though that book is as much about the character finding an appreciation for his family name.

I think this plot was more popular when I was a kid than it is now. That could explain why I like it so much. Maybe I’m trying to relive my childhood. Maybe it’s just a guy thing. You recall those stories in which a king would send the young men off on a quest, the man who could bring back the head of the dragon, or whatever, would be given the king’s daughter in marriage and up to half of the kingdom. Off they would go and the hero of the story would return victorious. Those stories would always end, “and they lived happily ever after.” They never spent much time on the marriage because no one cared about that. The quest was what was important in those stories. The girl was just a reason to send the young men on their way, but what made the story interesting was that the hero learned to be a man. He went off wet behind the ears and he came back with hair on his chest.

When you think about it, a lot of video games are designed around that story. Through each level the player has to battle the enemy forces until he reaches the goal. When the player starts out, he hardly knows the game and even the lower levels may be difficult. But when he reaches the end, he can play the lower levels with ease. He isn’t the same player he was when he started.

We need boys to become men. We need boys who will answer the call and take on the responsibilities of manhood. Men don’t slay dragons these days. The task they have is even harder. We need men who will take responsibility for their families. We need men who will lead their families by good example. We need men who are not satisfied to sit on the sidelines of life but will take action.

No comments :