What Makes A Story Matter?


It depends on a person’s personal ideals, but for me, emotions, actions, and conclusions make a story matter. Throughout my life, I have read many different kinds of stories inside and outside of the classroom. There is this feeling you get after completing a book and this feeling is tremendously positive. Whether it is an action book filled with Greek Gods taking control of the weather, cliché love book about a girl fighting cancer while trying to make her relationship last with a boy, or a autobiography about their life through an life-sucking camp, they all had great memorable endings. Usually, books would have the same foundation. That would be a setting, characters, plot, conflict, etc,. There are, of course, more attributing factors into making a story matter, but I believe that emotions, actions and conclusions would be the basis of it.

In my class, I recently finished reading The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It contains many small stories about Esperanza’s (the main character) thoughts, life lessons, daily life routines, family and friends.

As Esperanza grows up with her sisters, they discover womanized objects like heels. They were all excited at first, but this thrill would not last for long. On pages 40-42, this is a good example of Esperanza and her sister’s expressions, actions, and ending result. At first, the girls were excited to wear the shoes so they would “take them off and put them back on and keep on like this a long time until we are tired” (40).They felt different but they liked it at first. Soon came trouble with strangers on the street like the bum they encountered. The bum was easily attracted by Rachel because of her shoes and purity so he wanted even more from her. He insisted for Rachel to approach closer because he persuasively said that he “can’t see very well” (41). The girls had a bad feeling about this and said, “We have to go right now” (42). Once they got home, they got rid of the shoes because they were “tired of being beautiful” (42). This all matters and ties into my answer because without the sister’s reactions and actions, you do not really know what is going on. Not only could this chapter teach a life lesson, it also shares experiences.

Another chapter also relates to my question. Once again, all stories that Cisneros wrote occurred in different settings with different plots and characters. Pages 58-61 demonstrated emotions, actions, and a conclusion. It started off with Esperanza and her aunt’s interacting. The game that Lucy, Rachel, and Esperanza was playing was to merely imitate her blind aunt and stimulate the way she moves like how they, “pretended with our heads thrown back, our arms limp and useless, dangling like the dead” (61). Her aunt then died and “maybe she was ashamed” (61) about her niece knowing her capability of not being able to complete simple tasks. Esperanza felt horrible and she regretted her actions plenty because her aunt was always there for her when she needed it and Esperanza made fun of her. Instead of the narrator expressing how she felt after it occurred, she stated it in the first few lines,“Most likely I will go to hell and most likely I deserve to be there” (58). Again, not only can this serve to be a memory, but can also be served as a life lesson to not expect that there will always be a tomorrow in yours or someone else’s life.

May be having emotions, actions, and conclusions might not be the only important parts to a story. However, without any of these, it would no longer be a meaningful story with an answer. For example, in pages 54-55, this could easily be a contradiction to my answer. You could say that this chapter has a conclusion, but it does not really fulfill a conclusion in my opinion. Yes, “he grabs my face with both hands and kisses me hard on the mouth and doesn’t let go” (55). But what happens after that? Does Esperanza continue to see him? Does she do anything about it if she liked it or not? It does not extremely affect my answer because it is only one part of why a story matters. This could still but considered a conclusion, but it is like a cliffhanger.

I am not the only one who believes that emotions, actions, and conclusions are important. Bill Johnson’s Understanding What a Story Is has similar attributes to make a story matter. For example, he qualifies that “In addition to a story’s physical action, we have the emotional movement of different climbers” (Johnson). By understanding why the characters reacted in a certain way, it helps the audience realize the meaning to the story’s character’s actions. When characters set out actions towards their conflict, the audience would have a concrete idea on what is happening in the story. Along with actions, emotions play a part in this too like how Johnson implied. Not only do the characters act on it physically, but once they lay out their feelings on the event’s impact, it serves the audience a clearer and more detailed experience while reading the book leading to a fulfilling resolution.

Out of all short films, personally, The Maker has been my all-time favorite. Why do I find this video interesting? The music captures my ears with gorgeous content. Being a musician myself, this quartet in the background is absolutely stunning. The crescendos, decrescendos, rhythm, harmony, and the arrangement by Paul Halley make others and I enjoy watching this short film more. The timing of the music is perfect when corresponding with this short film. Throughout this short film, there were many possibilities in my head to why the main character was creating another character. At first, I believed that he was lonely and wanted a partner. However, I saw the hourglass and this confused me. One thing is clear to me at this point; the main character seemed troubled and rushed based on his reaction to the remaining dripping sand in the hourglass. I could visualize the intense pressure he was under in through the character’s action to complete his task. Once he successfully created his partner with the sound of the violin, their happiness met half way with my smile. I felt relieved that the character was able to complete his task and meet his friend. But this happiness did not last for long. The hour glass’s sand finally reached the other side and soon the main character disappeared leaving the new character to figure out its task. The short film ended in a sudden surprise with a similar continuous journey for the new character. Once you finish the video, it will all make sense to the plot and it explains why the main character felt a certain way and accomplished many tasks. I believe that the main character felt sympathy and perseverance towards his friend because little does she know she has to find her way out as well. All in all, this short film contains emotions, actions, and a conclusion.

Essentially, a story is a story no matter what you make of it with emotions, actions and a conclusion. With this foundation though, the audience can relate more easily with any story. The audience finds themselves in situations in life where they might be able to say, “Oh yes, I can recall this similar feeling with the character in that one book.” Stories leaves an imprint in their minds with such vivid emotion and conclusion waiting to be tested out in real-life problems with their choice of action.

Photo by me


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