Literature is Meant to Call for Emotions of People
“Literature is meant to call for emotions of people making them grieve, sympathize, and celebrate together with the characters of the book. As there not too many ways to invoke these feelings in the readers, it is not surprising that many texts appeal to the same topic. Even though we are living in a world of possibilities, many people find themselves homeless due to the various social and political issues. My personal favorite is Selavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope by Youme Landowne about a boy living on the streets of Haiti. When I was at high school in Russia, we had to read Children of the Underground by Vladimir Korolenko telling about kids living in the ruins of the castle. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir describing childhood problems caused by uninvolved parents unable to take care of their own kids. Life on the Streets appeals to the problem of homelessness. Nate Schweber, the reporter, talked with homeless people across New York City and published these interviews. These two literary pieces both discuss social issues, but one cannot call this interconnection an intertextuality as the authors did not influence each other but were rather influenced by their life experiences.
Though both The Glass Castle and Life on the Streets discuss real-life experiences, the Walls’ novel is extremely personal. She describes her feelings in all colors and shades: she remembers the reflections of sunlight going through her window, the song her mother was singing while painting, the color of the flames that climber her body as she burned while cooking being only three years old, and a smell of the burning skin. Her experience is sensual; she lives through her memories. The meaning of her novel is not shaped by another text but by her experiences.
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Schweber’s motivation is very different from Walls’ as he investigates the lives of other people. It is not an in-depth story of one nomadic family but rather a glance into the lifestyle of homeless people, who discuss job losses, mental issues, substance abuse, and problems with the city shelter system. The author investigates homelessness as a social phenomenon, and he is more interested in the lifestyle his interviewees have and the reasons behind them starting to live on the street, than about their feelings and moments of happiness or despair. He does not share the views of his heroes, and he observes them from the distance.
Despite the fact that heroes of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and some heroes of Life on the Streets by Nate Schweber have similar habits that caused certain limitations for them and their families, the authors had very different reasons to write their books, and they neither share inspiration nor there are any interconnections in the texts. Jeannette Walls investigates her childhood traumas to understand how they shaped the woman she is today; her book is almost intimate because she tells her readers her secrets. Nate Schweber advocates for a social issue providing homeless people from New York City with the face that may call some readers to help more. But his story is not personal; he informs rather than shares.”