Meaning in Fiction

Reading novels in high school English class is all about the meaning.  I remember my teachers asking us to write about what we thought the author meant.  And of course, after that, they then told us what the authors really meant.  It made me think, are the teachers just BSing their way through these lessons?  Do they really know what the author meant?

I’ve seen this meme going around often.

whattheauthormeantI wonder how true this is.  On the other hand, it’s quite possible that authors are trying to convey one message, but the teacher thinks it’s a completely different message.  And of course, the teacher is always right, even if the student got it right.  It’s that kind of English teacher I don’t like.  It’s much better if the teacher grades the work based on how well the student can explain why they think the author meant what they think.

But I’d like to ask you a couple questions.

If you’re a reader, do you like to find the message in the story?  Do you read for the meaning, or do you just read for the fun of it?  Deep meaning or an escape?

If you’re a writer, do you try to put meaning into your stories, or do you just write to entertain?  Do you discover meaning while you’re writing?  Do you just want to captivate your readers with a great story?  Or do you set out to deliver an important message to them?

Please leave your answers in the comments.