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Critical Lens Essay

Anne Lamott said, “Good literature substitutes for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through. ” Good literature allows individuals to live through events which they have not encountered in their lives. I agree with this quote because I believe it is true. This quote is shown to be true through the books, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. In both pieces of literature, characters had an experience which we haven’t had or been through. Books help us understand the situations that we haven’t faced yet. In Oliver Twist, Oliver’s experience was bad.

He was stuck in a situation. The social environment in which he was raised in encouraged thievery. He was born in poverty. Thievery and poverty are both bad experiences which we haven’t faced or lived through. Oliver ran away twice from people that provided him shelter in exchange for him committing to thievery. Some either in his group bullied him for being weak or he attacked them for commenting on his parents. His half brother wants to ruin life for him by destroying all the wealth that his parents left behind like the necklace. He doesn’t want Oliver to get any of his parents inheritance.

Later his half brother is forced to give it all back to Oliver and now he has it all. Most of us have not ran away from home, been bullied, or bullied someone. We have not lived through what Oliver has. This piece of literature tells us about the situations he faced in details, and these we have not faced. It’s helping us to better understand what’s out there. One literary element would be individualism because he is left on his own. He is a orphan. We have not experienced this either because most of aren’t orphans or have been in and out of different foster homes like Oliver has.

We can see and feel his emotions. In Hatchet, Brian Robenson also had a bad experience. He went through a plane crash and got stranded on a island with little resources. He has less food a hatchet. He has no one to help him in the wilderness or to provide him with shelter. He can’t contact anyone to rescue him either because the radio is down. He is trapped with no way back. He attempts to commit suicide because he can’t take it anymore but ends up surviving. He’s trapped with either a bear trying to kill him, a porcupine shooting at him or a skunk making him smell bad.

He is later rescued by a plane that spotted him and landed. It helped him get back to his safe environment. These are some tough situations. This is a experience which people haven’t faced in their lives. People don’t get a chance like Brian to fly a plane while the captain is having a heart attack and crash. This piece of literature tells us all about his emotions and what he’s going through, being all alone in the woods. We haven’t been through what he has but we can feel it like its happening to us. We are understanding how tough it is out there.

The quote by Anne Lamott, “Good literature substitutes for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through”, tells us how no one has faced situations like these protagonists from these literatures. These are good literature because they are allowing us to feel the emotions that the protagonists are feeling when faced with situations we have yet to encounter. They are telling us all the details what they are faced with and how they are reacting to it. It’s trying to tell us like we are there. These two pieces of literature have allowed us to see situations that we haven’t been through. We can feel it through these books.

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