Friday, July 21, 2017

Thought-provoking Moments in Fiction

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

No such associations had Barton; yet he felt the contrast between the well-filled, well-lighted shops and the dim gloomy cellar, and it made him moody that such contrasts should exist.  They are the mysterious problem of life to more than him.  He wondered if any in all the hurrying crowd had come from such a house of mourning.  He thought they all looked joyous, and he was angry with them.  But he could not, you cannot, read the lot of those who daily pass you by in the street.  How do you know the wild romances of their lives; the trials, the temptations they are even now enduring, resisting, sinking under?  You may be elbowed one instant by the girl desperate in her abandonment, laughing in mad merriment with her outward gesture, while her soul is longing for the rest of the dead, and bringing itself to think of the cold-flowing river as the only mercy of God remaining to her here.  You may pass the criminal, meditating crimes at which you will to-morrow shudder with horror as you ream them.  You may push against one, humble and unnoticed, the last upon earth, who in heaven will for ever be in the immediate light of God's countenance.  Errands of mercy--errands of sin--did you ever think where all the thousands of people you daily meet are bound?  Barton's was an errand of mercy; but the thoughts of his heart were touched by sin, by bitter hatred of the happy, whom he, for the time, confounded with the selfish.


Wow.  This is such an amazingly  true and vivid picture of life; and our oftentimes faulty perceptions of it.  Truly, how often do we find ourselves in a crowd of people, pitying our lot and feeling angry at everyone else for being so happy, and having everything so easy?  And yet, we really have no idea at all what those people are thinking or feeling.   What trials and temptations "they are even now enduring, resisting, sinking under?"  We haven't a clue.  And because they appear happy on the outside we consider them selfish for not noticing and caring about our misery.  And yet, if you think about it, they haven't any more idea about our discomfort than we do about theirs, for it is our natural tendency to mask our struggles with a smile.  We do it.   All the time.   And if we can't read their thoughts, we can hardly expect them to read ours.  It's humbling to remember that even those people who appear the most confident--and as if they have everything together--still struggle at times with feelings of failure, and loneliness, and confusion.  We're none of us without these feelings, I think, and so we must look for ways of encouraging others instead of constantly thinking about how others should be encouraging us.  (There.  That's your sermon for today.  Mine, too, actually.  I'm afraid I'm an expert at feeling sorry for myself.  ;))

Light from Heaven by Christmas Carol Kauffman

     "Art," said Joseph one morning after church, "why don't you give your heart to God?"
     Art looked up in surprise and took a step backward.  He put both hands deep in his pockets and looked Joseph straight in the eyes.
     "You don't care," he said musingly.
     "Don't care?" asked Joseph in surprise.  "Why do you say that?"
     "Do you honestly think my soul is lost and I'm doomed to hell?"
     "If the Bible is true," answered Joseph, "and I know it is, unless you confess Christ you cannot be save."
     "Then why," asked Art, "If you actually believe that, why haven't you or Freddie spoken to me before?  Not once in twenty months have either of you asked me if I'd--"
     "Art!" cried Joseph.  He was struck.  It was as if a chastening rod had dealt him an unexpected blow.  "But we've been praying for you."
     "You have?"  A faint smile played around Art Olterham's lips, and he walked away slowly.


My dad read this book to us several years ago, and this part really stood out to me because it made me see evangelizing in a new light.  So often I'm scared to ask people about their knowledge of salvation because I don't want to be pushy and I don't want to offend them.  But it just blew me away, that here's this guy wanting to be asked.  And in fact, feeling that his friends don't care about him, because they haven't ask him.  It's food for thought, that's for sure.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

What is natural in me, is natural in many other men, I infer, and so I am not afraid to write that I never had loved Steerforth better than when the ties that bound me to him were broken.  In the keen distress of the discovery of his unworthiness, I thought more of all that was brilliant in him, I softened more toward all that was good in him, I did more justice to the qualities that might have made him a man of a noble nature and a great name, then ever I had done in the height of my devotion to him.  Deeply as I felt my own unconscious part in his pollution of an honest home, I believe that if I had been brought face to face with him, I could not have uttered one reproach.  I should have loved him so well still--though he fascinated me no longer--I should have held in so much tenderness the memory of my affection for him, that I think I should have been as weak as a spirit-wounded child, in all but the entertainment of a thought that we could ever be re-untied.  That thought I never had.  I felt, as he had felt, that all was at an end between us.  What his remembrances of me were, I have never known--they were light enough, perhaps, and easily dismissed--but mine of him were as the remembrances of a cherished friend, who was dead. 

(Oh my goodness!  How does a person write like this?  There's so much emotion here.  So many feelings.  I'm blown away by the shear depth of it.)  This passage kind of breaks my heart.  Steerforth was awful.  This is true.  Unprincipled and lacking in morals, he's certainly not someone to emulate or put your trust in.  But ohhh!  I agree with David.  When you have a good friend that you've always loved and looked up to, and that friend falls like Steerforth fell, I seriously believe you would cling to all that was good in him even more than you did before.  I can't say I've actually had a real personal experience like this myself, but just reading this passage had my heart crying out for the good Steerforth to rise up and take over the bad--for him to have a real change of heart and become a better man--and if I'm feeling that way over a fictional character how much more would I feel it over a real life friend?
Don't give up on those wayward friends.  They need your prayers and love like no one else does! 
Well, there's my jumbled thoughts for you.  Hope you were able to get something out of that.  I started this post quite a long time ago and figured it was about time I published it, so for what's it's it is.


  1. That David Copperfield passage is amazing! Isn't that what we should all be doing? Looking for the good in others when the hope is gone. I love the book David Copperfield, except I told you how I am very much put off by the ending.

    Amazing thoughts, Miss March! Keep them always!
    God bless you!!

    1. Isn't it though? Charles Dickens certainly knew how to give accurate descriptions of human nature. It's amazing. :) Yes! So true. That is entirely what we ought to be doing! <3 Oh, I forgot that you were put off by the ending. What was it exactly that you didn't like?

      Thank you so much, MovieCritic!!
      And aww, thank you! GOD BLESS YOU TOO!! :D

    2. So incredible! He must have spent a lot of time observing people, or maybe he just had an amazing gift! <3
      Well, I love Dora for one thing, and if he knew Agnus all along, why didn't he marry her in the first place? I was actually rooting for them until Dora came along, then after she was gone he went back to Agnus. It is just so frustrating! Make up your mind!!! But, besides that, I love the book.

      Thank you!!! :D I feel really blessed to have you as a friend!!!! :D

    3. Oh that's right! I remember you saying how much you liked Dora. I like her a lot, too. And I can understand your feelings about the ending, because it kind of annoys me sometimes, too. Not that I don't want David to end up with Agnes, but sometimes it feels like David's marriage to Dora is portrayed as being just a foolish, childish mistake...and I don't think it should be thought of in that way at all! David's marriage to Dora was a good thing! And if I don't look at it like Dora was merely an obstacle in his way to marrying Agnes, well then, it looks a whole lot better. Because she wasn't an obstacle. She was his wife. And Agnes was the perfect second wife because she knew and loved both of them! <3 (This is me trying to make myself feel better about the whole thing. Haha. ;))

      I'm blessed to have you as a friend, too, MovieCritic!! Thanks for being my friend. :)

  2. Hey, Miss March! Great post--enjoyed your thoughts, as always. :) And I have to say, I'm quite interested in reading "Mary Barton" now that you've introduced me to it this way!

    I think you would really, really enjoy reading Anthony Trollope's novels--his characters are amazingly lifelike and very nuanced. They seem like real people that you've met before, you know? I'm reading Doctor Thorne and I just can't. put. it. down! Such a great author! For me, he's right up there with Dickens and Austen now (and that is saying something....). :)

    1. Thanks, Crista! :D You'd probably enjoy "Mary Barton". It wasn't my favorite of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels, but it was still good.

      Ohhhhh!!! YES. Anthony Trollope books are definitely on my to-read list. I've wanted to read Doctor Thorne ever since we saw the movie, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm so glad to hear that you're really enjoying it though, because that probably means I will, too! (Since you have such good taste in books, you know. ;)) Is it better to read the first books in the series before reading Doctor Thorne? Were those ones good, too?

      Up there with Dickens and Austen??! Eeeek!! That is saying a lot. Now I REALLY need to read those books!! :D

  3. All those passage's. Lovely.

    I must read all of the books one day. :)

    Lovely thoughts Miss March! Really enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks so much, Rachel. I'm glad you enjoyed this. And yes, you really should read these books sometime. They're excellent! :)

  4. I loved this, Miss March! So inspiring -- truly.

    The second excerpt struck me most. I had never thought of evangelizing in that way either, and it's definitely a point worth considering.

    (You need to do more posts like this!)

    1. I'm so glad! Thank you, Elanor! :)

      I know. It made quite an impression on me when my dad read it to us. That was years ago now and I still remember it.

      Thank you so much for your comment. It was really encouraging. :)