Essay Example on the Value of Literature

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Literature is a foundation of life, which is instigated by a readers imagination. Across all generations, it has provided access to teach the reader about life experiences. It can be in the form of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama, and prose. Fiction literature, for example, is created from imagination or a real life story. In Doctorows essay Ultimate Discourse, he provides hints at how stories have played a role in shaping peoples lives. In his writing, Doctorow talks about the benefits of literature to both professional writers and readers. Additionally, Old School by Tobias Wolff is a novel whose plot focuses on the events of his life. The narrator in the story displays the events of his life since his enrollment in preparatory school. Through literature, readers can develop values such as ethical, philosophical, historical, moral, artistic, entertainment, and cultural. The essay below discusses the values, which literature has for the narrator of the book Old School. More so, it outlines the benefits and costs of literature for the reader and writer. Although literature has its costs and benefits, it provides life lessons that are of great value to both the reader and writer.

In the novel Old School, literature provides values to the narrator. In school, the narrator has a passion for reading and writing due to the schools culture. The first value, which literature has for the narrator is entertainment. He affirms that he reads and learns more about writers (p.4). He asserts, I knew that Maupassant, whose stories I loved, had been taken up when young by Flaubert and Turgenev; Faulkner by Sherwood Anderson; Hemingway by Fitzgerald and Pound and Gertrude Stein (p.4-5). Seemingly, the narrator finds it enjoyable to read about literature. The second value that literature has for the narrator is artistic. The narrator contemplates about human creativity when he talks about Bills writings. He states, but in Bills shortest, most implicit stories, and his occasional poems, the exactitude and poise of his writing would carry you away (p.10). The third value, which the narrator finds from literature, is philosophical. Literature gave the narrator an opportunity to explore human knowledge. He affirms, The Fountainhead made me alert to the smallest surrenders of will (p.67). Here, the narrator found a philosophical value to the Fountainhead because the novel made him feel and think about perception as well as created self-awareness within him.

As depicted in the novel, literature has its benefits to both the reader and writer. Regarding the reader, one benefit it provides is an experience. Individuals can expand their prospects through reading stories. Doctorow (p.41) affirms that fiction literature excludes nothing as it expresses a myriad of sources. As he explains, through fiction, people can experience love, starvation, drowning, or drooping. Additionally, literature is beneficial as it provides pleasure to its readers. As Doctorow (p.41) avows, fiction is a valuable resource and instrument for survival. Undeniably, its ability to provide interesting stories stimulates the readers mind and thoughts. On a broader perspective, people understand life through stories. On the other hand, the benefit that it offers writers is the ability to understand their selves and the world. Doctorow (p.41) asserts that when fiction writers look around themselves, they manage to understand the contemporary world of nonfiction. He articulates that professional writers become conventional when writing literature. Moreover, he states that it makes writers understand the world regarding formulating stories.

Literature has its cost to both the reader and writer. Concerning the reader, one of the costs is developing the narrators point of view. For example, in the novel Old School, the protagonist commits an act of plagiarism to win the literacy contest. From a readers perspective, he was ambitious and afraid of failure. However, from his point of view, he did nothing wrong because he has never plagiarized before. He affirms, Even with the proof in hand, even knowing that someone named Susan Friedman had written the story, I still thought of it as mine (p.140). According to Cole (p.1), perception orients the reader and enables him or her to understand the text from his perspective. On the contrary, one of the costs to the writer is maintaining a quality illusion. Coles (p.1) affirms that most professional writers face a difficulty in creating characters, expressing motives, and formulating emotions through imaginations. Truly, some literary works are difficult to conceptualize due to complicated characters and stories.

In summary, despite the costs and benefits that literature has, it provides life lessons that are of great value to both the reader and writer. Apparently, reading guides the readers thoughts, influences their decisions, and in some occasions, changes their lives. Both Tobias Wolff and E.L Doctorow speak of how literature in great extents. In both works, the narrators give the readers an opportunity to comprehend their text from various perspectives. Literature is significant in peoples lives because it supplements them with the necessary experiences in daily life. Overall, literature is reflective of life, which guides the reader to the direction of sound judgment.

Works Cited

Cole, William. Perception in Literary Fiction: A Challenge for Better Narration. 2016.

Accessible at

Doctorow, E.L. Ultimate Discourse. Esquire No. 106, Aug. 1986, p. 41.

Wolff, Tobias. Old School. New York: Vintage Contemporaries. 2003. Print.

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