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In the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, Baum tells readers that it is a work of fiction. It is to be read as such, not read into as an allegory or dissertation of the human condition, so why did my English teacher make us memorize the real life counterparts to the characters in The Wizard of Oz?

I used to think it was their job to look for meaning where there was none. I was determined to write a book where a character went from wearing white to wearing red, not because she lost her innocence, but because it was after labor day and she likes red.

blue curtains

Then we started writing Blind Sight and I found myself writing meaning into the curtains. The black and white theme in the ballroom reflected the bipolar nature of the Queen’s personality. The irony was not lost on me. I wondered what my 6th grade teacher would read into it. It’s always seemed to me that the author has a different idea of the meaning in the story than the academics, and I sided with the author. Who else could possibly know better?

But then I read Lord of the Flies and though I haven’t had a chance to finish the review, Golding said something very interesting in the final commentary. It doesn’t matter the interpretation of your teacher, a critic, or anyone else because the most important thing is experiencing the story yourself.

What's in a book is not what the author put in it but what the reader gets out of it.

-Eliabeth Hawthorne

What do you think about teachers telling you how to interpret books?

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