Monday, April 28, 2014

What makes an effective adventure narrative?

In the intro of “Pym,” Kennedy writes, “Defying the conditions of its own composition, Pym offers a memorable portrayal of the rite de passage by which a young man loses his innocence and achieves a horrifying view of the deviousness and cruelty inherent in human nature” (xi). Many of the books we have read this semester act as coming of age works. In “Touching My Father’s Soul,” Norgay reaches self-actualization after successfully following in his father’s footsteps, but the path to self-actualization is never easy. There has to be bumps along the way in the telling of the story to entertain the reader. At the beginning of “Pym,” Poe shakes things up with some conflict, and we get a sense of Pym’s devious and innocent side. He makes the drunken decision to sail out to see with his friend Augustus, and things go sour from there, which is something—drinking times—we as college students should all be able to relate to in one way or another. Was this the boys’ first time drinking? Rather than coming of age stories, it seems like we are intrigued by stories about “firsts.” The first ascent of Mount Everest, the first ascent led by a Sherpa, ect. Effective adventure narratives seem to center around a first experience and start from a point of conflict. When the narrative starts on a point of conflict, there is nowhere to go but forward. There is a lesson to be learned. For Pym, he takes control of the ship on behalf of his drunken friend, completing his first lesson in being a man. 

1 comment:

  1. I like that idea that it's not coming of age but "firsts." But aren't these- often times- one in the same? People often come of age because of a defining moment, adventure, experiment, experience etc. These are firsts. Emotional, mental, social firsts... climbing firsts, voyaging firsts, etc. Firsts make for adventures which make for transformation. I like thinking of the adventures we've read through the lens of "firsts"- it's an interesting new perspective. If we were reading about seconds and thirds it might not be quite so interesting!