Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller

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The Past Does Not Define an Individual “Inside each of us is a monster, inside each of us is a saint. The real question is which one we nurture the most, which one will smite the other” (Picoult 111). The only person that can define their own self is the individual alone. The novel The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult is of a baker named Sage Singer with a large scar on her face. When she meets Josef Weber, an elderly man, in her grief support group they start to befriend one another. As they start to get along, Josef tells Sage about his darkest secrets during his years of being an SS guard. He also asks her for a peculiar favor. To help him die. This well written novel uses literary devices effectively, allowing it to be enthralling and to communicate…show more content…
For instance, guilt is a reoccurring emotion for all the characters. Sage is a character that display a vast amount of guilt. Happiness is an emotion she feels like she does not deserve. She mentions, “While most people come for therapy, I came for punishment” (9). Her mother died during the car accident, leaving Sage the only one to survive. By continuing to attend the grief support group for three years shows how she is still stuck in the past. Nonetheless, after listening to the painful history her grandmother has gone through, it changed her way of viewing everything. Despite the pain endured when she was young, she lives a life in which she is proud of. This made Sage understand that the past should not be the reason to live by. In addition, regret is another emotion that is evident throughout the novel. It is especially apparent with Joseph. He feels that he needs to be punished for all the things he has done in the past. When Sage asks why he is so desperate to die, he replies, “Because I should be dead, Sage. It’s what I deserve” (47). Many attempts were made before asking Sage for help. With how much he is hurting inside for his actions in the past shows the regret he is sensing. This demonstrates how the past can restrict one from doing what they want and what they love. By making this emotion repeatedly…show more content…
The scar on the face of Sage has a deeper meaning than it just being a permanent mark. When describing her scar, she states, “It isn’t a scar to me, really. It’s a map of where my life went wrong” (10). This scar symbolizes guilt, like a stamp to remind her of what happened in the past. This permanent mark on her face does not let her move on because of the guilt she feels about the accident. Also, the view of others when looking at her scarred face reflects how she sees herself. It displays how she cannot let go of her past. Nevertheless, when she decides to confidently show her scarred face in front of strangers, this is when she overcomes the challenge she has been suffering from for so long. By accepting the past, she comprehends that the past has nothing to do with how she is today. Additionally, the story Minka has written holds its own significance. She has deliberately stopped the story before the ending was revealed. This demonstrates how “Fiction comes in all shapes and sizes” (460). The story Minka has written represents life. How there is no true ending to the story depicts life to have no restrictions, that it is up to the individual to write their own lives. The theme of how the past does not define the individual is thoroughly explained within this symbolism.

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