The Conundrum of Book Response Essays
As I’m analyzing the books my English teacher has assigned, I often wonder how other people interpret each sentence. Simple sentences are easy to decipher and understand, but when I get to the abstract statements, I pause:
There is a reason I’m asked to read these books. These books have withstood the rigours of literary critique and therefore definitely worth delving into.
I re-read. I look for clues in other parts of the book to guide my thinking. I’m afraid, but also confident that my interpretation of the book is something that no one has thought before. I hope that my interpretation is the correct one.
However, I am but one out of thousands of students each year that stare at the exact same sentence, pondering its meaning and significance. It seems extremely unlikely that I, someone who isn’t particularly gifted with words, can write something that completely unique and mind-blowing that takes the teacher by surprise. She might just nod her head and continue reading because my ‘revelation’ was one of many she has already read before.
I have, in the past, gone to the internet to read interpretations of the books I’ve read. Each author had their own unique theory and each with respectable facts to back their assertions. Some I agree; some I outright reject. I am amazed by their depth in thinking and also by the wildly different interpretations.
But that just makes me wonder, when I find and write about something intriguing in the book- a strange wording or a dark overarching theme- did I truly discover the author’s undiscovered true motive? Am I preaching to the choir of the students before me? Or did I just overanalyze the words and find a signal when there was only noise?