Story

Story occurs whenever importance is attached to events in time. This phenomenon happens so frequently that it seems fundamental to how we communicate. The events may have happened to somebody else, not to the speaker or writer. Whatever the listening, speaking, reading situation, we can assume that when any form of storytelling occurs, it has a purpose: to entertain, instruct, inform, enlighten. In the last four stanzas of 'Sandra Lee Scheuer', Geddes imagines two linked interwoven sets of events: a marriage proposal, a shooting—both in their opposite ways momentous. His purpose here isn't hard to detect: one story reveals to us what the natural course of her life might have been, another the unnatural cause of her death. By placing them together in slow motion the poem engages us, so that we feel the moment of impact intensely, almost as if it were happening before our eyes. Story therefore recreates, enacts, doesn't simply state or tell. Even so, it has a purpose. Aesop's fables end with pronouncements: 'Persuasion is better than force.' The underlying point of fables, however, is that story is better than pronouncement, enactment more vivid to us than statement. Story has the better chance of making things matter to us. When we want to clarify the great importance of something, our best way of doing so is through narrative.

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