Fiction That Tells the Truth

A lot of my commonplace book quotations have come from works of fiction. When I read, I keep a pen close by my side. If I come across a passage that speaks to me, I write the page number down and the first few words. I then get back to my reading. Once I have finished a book, I comb through it and add the passages to my commonplace book. I have found that this doesn’t distract me from my reading at all.

I am currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I am just past the halfway mark now and I must say that it is a great read.

I found a passage this weekend that ties in to my entry yesterday. In it, a mother is giving advice to her child on becoming a mother. She tells her to let the child believe in angels, fairies and Santa Claus and her daughter objects.

“I know there is no Santa Claus.”

“Yet you must teach the child that these things are so.”

“Why? When I, myself, do not believe?”

“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”

“The child will grow up and find out things for herself. She will know that I lied. She will be disappointed.”

“That is what is called learning the truth. It is a good thing to learn the truth one’s self.”

This passage was inspiring to me. It is a few pages long and I have only included the middle portion of this exchange between mother and daughter. I like how the wise mother has learned the importance of story and is able to communicate this so clearly to her daughter. It is also striking because Mary is illiterate. She has learned things from living and wishes to pass them on to her daughter and granddaughter.

This passage is now number 282 in my commonplace book but I couldn’t wait that long to share it with you. It’s food for thought. Enjoy!

2 responses to “Fiction That Tells the Truth”

  1. Perhaps it was, perhaps it was ECD.

    The power of belief is a great thing. I think that it is a gift to children letting them believe in things. It really does foster imagination. It is important that we do not forget this.