"...an adventure may lead anywhere... The quest is always towards something, although that something often becomes clear only with the seeking of it. Second, the adventure may be undertaken for any number of reasons...The quest, however, is always a spiritual or religious undertaking. The quest hero is appointed or ordained to his mission, and its end has spiritual significance. Third, the adventure may be merely a whimsical frolic. In contrast, the quest is always a grave, serious undertaking. It is often life-thretening, marked by a sense of struggle, of imminent or immediate danger in which the character must call upon all of his will and power to push on" (Timmerman, 91).
I came across this quote in one of my readings for another comp lit class, and I wanted to see what you guys thought of it and its relations to our adventure narratives. Do you agree with Timmerman's distinctions between quests and adventures? Are we right to call the events we've read about so far adventures, or are they quests?
I personally agree with Timmerman's definition up to his third point. I believe both quests and adventures can be dangerous. In my opinion the two are distinct in that the dangerous adventures can be avoided, whereas quests are by nature dangerous and this danger cannot be avoided. That's how I fit Timmerman's third point more satisfactorily in with his previous two points, anyway. In any case, by Timmerman's definition, I believe we may be reading more quests than adventures in this course. In Touching my Father's Soul, for example, Norgay is climbing towards the ultimate goal of learning more about his father. I haven't finished the text yet, so I'm not sure what he ends up finding, but is working towards something. Furthermore, despite his constant insistence that he is not a devout Buddhist Norgay ties many elements of the Buddhist religion into his account, like lighting the butter candles as a sort of sacrifice to ensure a safe journey. He also embarks on the quest with the intent of representing his fellow Sherpa and their role on climbing trips, which would involve their religion. Finally, his wife's hesitance to allow him to go, in addition to historical knowledge of the dangers of climbing Everest, clearly show this to be life-threatening quest. Thus, Touching my Father's Soul is by Timmerman's definition a quest because it is directed towards an ultimate goal, it has a religious purpose, and it puts the quest-er in imminent danger.
Timmerman, John H. "The Quest." Other Worlds: The Fantasy Genre. Bowling Gree, OH: Bowling Green University Popular, 1983. 91-102. Print.