The story behind stories


Elizabeth Selberg, Staff Writer

Once upon a time…

…The most infamous opening words there are.

From the time we are born to the time we die, we are immersed in a world of literature. Whether it’s found in the form of a song or poem, book, or film, we are invariably surrounded by stories.

But what is so enrapturing about these tales? What is it that makes the human race so obsessed with capturing that moment in time and retelling it over and over and over again for centuries on end?

Perhaps it’s an innate curiosity. Maybe it’s the appeal of a life we’ll never live. But whatever it is, it dominates our society. Stories drive us, whether we realize it or not.

One thing is clear. Storytelling has evolved with the human race.

It began all the way back in the Stone Age when cavemen painted tales of survival and nature on stone. From there it became oral, passed down from generation to generation, and then written down, printed, and finally shared across the world through the internet.

Over the centuries, one thing has remained constant. Stories all exemplify a struggle. Just as we’re told in our Language Arts classes, every story has a theme;, a universal idea that is conveyed to its audience.

Often times these themes are purely for entertainment, but much more commonly, they hold a kind of lesson to help better readers or open their eyes to an issue or situation.

Take, for example, The Diary of Anne Frank, which depicts the life of a Jewish girl during the Holocaust. Not only does reading about her experiences first-hand add realism to the terrors we hear about in history, but it also provides a basis of education.

In studying past events and story cycles, we can recognize the beginning signs and in turn prevent past mistakes from being made again. Like a child who burns themselves on a hot stove, we as a society can examine the past through stories we are provided with and use it to improve ourselves and our world.

So next time you go to read a book or watch some Netflix, think about the lesson behind it. Stories surround us. And that is because stories are the greatest teachers out there.