Life is precious. That’s my best response to the unanswerable question, “What place does murder have in fiction?” A few thoughts—
If a human life is threatened, the stakes are high. When a fictional character that we’ve come to know dies, something important has happened. It hits us at a primal level. We find ourselves caught up in an experience outside our norm. Nobody seems to say it, but we’re talking about the struggle between good and evil.
Often the event leaves behind a problem that must be solved, either by unlocking a puzzle or by direct action. We become personally involved in the story. Along the way we meet captivating characters. Hurdles are cleared—more threats encountered—we have a sense of danger survived.
At the resolution, our fear changes to relief or even triumph. Perhaps justice is done or shattered lives renewed.
5 responses to “MURDER”
That’s a good argument, but how can death be part of entertainment? Oh, I read them, too, but sometimes the question nags at me. Is reading an exciting story pleasing to my Lord and Savior?
It’s difficult to answer, but consider: You read about actual killings in the news and of course, the Bible itself. The real question is whether or not it’s legitamate for fiction. Frankly, I don’t see how fiction could be credible without depicting the world the way it is. On the other hand, I’d say that if you’re getting your jollies over the violence itself, then there’s a serious problem.
Fiction is fictional. We are dealing with imaginary characters! Some terrible event may spark an uplifting portrayal of good vs. evil. So yes, I thing there is a place for it. That doesn’t mean that I sanction gratuitous violence, which I find appalling. A lot of writing goes way over that line.
This post brings up an interesting conundrum: why does fiction sometimes equal or transcend the ability of nonfiction to touch someone? People see a headline or a paragraph and are able to distance themselves from a real tragedy. On the other hand have that person read their favorite novel in which they lose a major character and they feel real sadness.
The way one looks at the question depends on several assumptions. I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that fiction is entertainment. For example, a certain fiction book depicts imaginary civilizations in expressing a powerful theme of racial tolerance. Is this in some way less meaningful than a book about Apartheid in teaching the same lesson of racial tolerance? Jesus’ parables in the Bible are essentially short stories. Their power is in creating understanding and is in no way restricted by whether events did or did not actually “happen”.
This post strikes me as so thoughtful and profound that I’d like to reproduce it as my next post under your name.