C. S. Lewis’s take on literature spectacularly and accurately encompases the opinions of many, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. ” The words of an author or script often influence the lives of a person, bringing the audience to tears, joy, or anger. Sharing themes of love, generosity, and child abuse, the novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven and the film Pay It Forward diverge on a few levels, but also parallel.
In Mitch Albom’s novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Eddie’s wife Marguerite never loses her love for him, even after death. For years she waits watching acts of timeless love take place. She attends wedding after wedding, saving her own to watch last with her long lost husband. Mitch Albom explains love remains the strongest emotion by stating, “Love, like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with soaking joy” (164).
Love, in its power, brings courage and trust to all who experience it. Like Eddie, Eugene Simonet is presented with the challenge of showing his love to the woman who earns it.
Love’s power is displayed as such when Eugene removes his shirt, bearing the scars of his past. Also, earlier in the film Arley says to him, “You look good to me” (Pay It Forward). Sharing his injuries clearly displays the passion and power of love.
Therefore, on the level of love, the novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven and the film Pay It Forward compare. However, when it comes to generosity, the works contrast. By living a life that was meaningless in his opinion, Eddie never realizes how helpful and generous he really was on Earth until the very last leg of his journey.
According to Eddie, he “… had a nothing life… ” (Albom 64). He never understands working on machines and rides saves lives every day. He sees it as a good-for-nothing job; it remains an easy way to make money. Not until the very end does Eddie understand how helpful and life-saving he really was here on Earth. He remembers the deaths he caused, but never the lives he saves. Unlike Eddie, Trevor wonders, “is the world just shit? ” which prompts him to come up with this idea of “Pay It Forward” where one person helps three others and so the chain continues (Pay It Forward).
Trevor’s purpose is to change the world; he knows and realizes how generous his idea seems. Although both characters are generous in their unannounced or profound ways, neither of their fathers care and constant abuse rattles their rib cages. Throughout all of his childhood, Eddie’s father beats him constantly. Whether he is as drunk as a fish or angry because of a bad round of cards, “He raked through the meager toys, hurling them against the wall. Then he made his sons lie face down on the mattress while he pulled off his belt and lashed their rear ends, screaming that they were wasting his money on junk.
Eddie used to pray for his mother to wake up, but when the times she did, his father warned her to ‘stay out of it. ‘ Seeing her in the hallway, clutching her robe, as helpless as she was, made it all even worse” (Albom 105). Eddie’s father never needs a reason to punish his sons. He does so on his own free will, much like Ricky, Trevor’s father. Ricky drinks to drink and drinks some more. Although he never physically harms Trevor, “‘All he has to do is not love him” and that is enough according or Eugene Simonet (Pay it Forward). Trevor spends nights shaking in the rhythm of sobs as he listens to his mother cry through the pain.
He knows Ricky does not love him, and of course knows Ricky could not possibly love his mother. Multiple themes are shared between Mitch Albom’s novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and the film Pay It Forward and among them are love, generosity and child abuse. Each work of literature owns moments of happiness, upset, and tension, which forces the audience to react. In the wonderful words of E. M. Forester, “What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote. ”
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