Near the dramatic end of “The Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini has his main character say, about his struggle for redemption, that “forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unnoticed in the middle of the night.” These words helped draw this wonderful story, so filled with sadness and delight, to a fitting close. Isn’t that the wonderful contradiction of serious fiction?
There was suffering for the POV character for his failure to love. There was even greater suffering for two, a father and his young boy. At different times the POV character had hurt them with that failure. At different times both saved him from extreme suffering or even death by committing identical acts of violence. For the POV character and the young boy, their paths to forgiveness and redemption were beyond arduous. For the boy we see only the smallest beginning – his first slight smile – with no suggestion of a guarantee.
I read and write fiction for the experience of such insight. I prefer to find illumination in story, not discourse. When a storyteller really shows you something, it takes only a sentence to summarize it, and sometimes that’s not necessary at all. Lengthy explanation is never required. When something true and important is shown through a character’s internal struggle and the acts he takes to replace hurt with help, it has such great power.
A story that does this is a pleasure every time, no matter how dark.
What have you read or written recently that does this?