Thomas Hardy once said, “A story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling; it must have something more unusual to relate than the ordinary experience of every average man and woman”. I believe the message that Thomas Hardy is trying to deliver is that a true story must be one of a kind. When one tells a story, it must serve its purpose. There are many reasons to tell a story, whether it is to inform, entertain, persuade, and etc… Without a purpose, a story isn’t considered “exceptional”. It must consist of hardships, struggles, excitement, or that one piece of work that makes a story worth telling; otherwise its value is worthless. Therefore, an exceptional story can lead to wondrous discoveries that enable one to look underneath the surface, revealing the truth about human nature.
A novel that would make the approval of Thomas Hardy is “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. Despite the fact that the novel’s genre is labeled as fiction, it contains realistic qualities of human nature. In this novel, the narrator joins the Brotherhood, an organization that deals with ethnicities. One of the authorities, being Brother Jack states, “That is your new name,” Brother Jack said. “Start thinking yourself by that name from this moment. Get it down so that even if you are called in the middle of the night you will respond. Very soon you shall be known by it all over the country. You are to answer to no other, understand?” (Ellison 309). There is a reason why Ellison includes this in his story. It is self-evident that the narrator is just given an identity, but exactly where is his identity? In a society revolving around the 1930’s, it is not as simple to form your own identity around that time period. However, it is simple to put on a mask and pretend to be someone else. That’s when society accepts identity, when one meets their standards, not one’s self. Perhaps that is the truth Ellison wants us to see. There are complications of assembling our own identity in such a diverse world.
Furthermore, the story, “A Child Called ‘it’” by David Pelzer portrays a story of his childhood where his abusive mother would play these torturous, yet deadly games with him. As the author states, “…As I felt my head being forced down, I closed my eyes tightly and clamped my mouth shut. My nose struck first. A warm sensation oozed from my nostril. I tried to stop the blood from escaping by breathing in. I snorted bits of defecation back up my nose with blood. I threw my hands on the counter top and tried to pry myself out of her grip. I twisted from side to side with all my strength, but she was too powerful” (Pelzer 57). When one describes a childhood, it is typically described as carefree, and exuberant. The truth I believe Pelzer asserts is that one’s childhood doesn’t always consist of those descriptions. His story is different, and allows the reader to discover that the existence of child abuse is real. One does not just read this book for the sake of reading it. However, they seek this to explore and feel the emotions of a victim’s miserable childhood. They seek this to think differently of one’s childhood rather than assuming all experiences are the same.
Thomas Hardy does bring out a valid point in what a true story should be in order for it to be exceptional. In order for a story to be exceptional, the story should serve a purpose. It should have that one thing that makes a story worth being told. “A Child Called ‘it’” and “Invisible Man” provides great examples of what a truly exceptional story is. There are reasons why both authors decided to write a story, to present such truth to the world, to human nature, and to the people. These stories contain that exceptional description that makes a reader crave for more. Therefore, an exceptional story can lead to wondrous discoveries that enable one to look underneath the surface, revealing the truth about human nature.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995.