As always, this is not a book report. Rather, it is an opportunity to discuss some themes that stuck with me while reading “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens.
The Plight of Orphans
The human condition and experience is not a solitary journey. At times, it may feel like it is but, there are very few examples of uniquely human experiences. When we group shared experiences together, we find a tribe, people who understand you. As people standing on the outside of these groups, it is our job to empathize when possible and offer support where appropriate. When reading this book, you cannot help but think about the plight of orphans and how much of their struggle goes unnoticed. Of course, in the West, we’ve corrected many of the issues faced by Mr. Twist, but this book does a fantastic job of making you ponder on the things yet to be done.
Overcoming the Odds
Oliver’s journey begins, while hungry when he dares to ask for a second helping. Every page of this book from that point on is a trial in overcoming the odds. Given the period and how society viewed orphans, his journey is anything but easy. Over the next 90% of the book, he is used, abused, forgotten, and left to die. All the while, he never loses his faith in better days ahead. In many ways, this was a revelation to me. This isn’t a story about the lord giving us more than we can handle. Instead, it is a story of not knowing what we are capable of when our backs are truly against the wall. In these instances, I think we possess the tremendous power to surprise ourselves.
Searching for Love
Oliver’s grand quest is focused on love. Specifically, the kind of love that can only be found within the confines of a supportive home. Most of us take advantage of the love we receive at home or don’t give it a second thought. What we fail to realize is the vast number of people who would gladly trade places with us, even on a bad day. For me, Oliver’s search made me warm and filled my soul. It made me look at the love I am getting from my parents now and the love I have received over the course of my life with complete and utter humility.
Ending a Book
I live under the impression that the hardest part of writing is the journey from point A to B. I assume authors create characters with some idea how to begin their story but really wrestle with how a book should end. In many ways, I wasn’t pleased with the ending of this book. It didn’t diminish the journey in any way. It just didn’t leave me with a great deal of satisfaction. As I continue my writing journey, I want to bottle this feeling and forever keep it at the forefront of my mind. Life is much more than the beginning or the end. It is about the time in between but leaving people with something gained and learned is powerful.
Be good to each other,
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