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The Mysterious, Magnificent, and Marvelous Truth

warning: spoiler alert!

The thing about the truth, however unwanted it is, is that it can never be hidden for too long. The truth will always rise to the top eventually, and when it does, it can change a person significantly. If only one of the protagonists of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by the talented Agatha Christie, knew this very important theme beforehand…

Hercule Poirot, the esteemed detective, introduces this theme by saying, “‘Understand this, I mean to arrive at the truth. The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to the seeker after it’” (Christie 145). Poirot was talking to a few of the witnesses and suspects involved in the case of the murder of Roger Ackroyd. One of the witnesses, Flora Ackroyd, Roger’s niece, said that she did not like where all the evidence was pointing, as the suspect was someone very close to her. She hinted at wanting Poirot to look in another direction; however, he was very persistent on finding the truth, and nothing but the truth. This a respectable action, as he cared about finding out what actually happened more than he wanted to have a bias to protect someone. Not many of us are able to do that. Using this very well-put together quote, Hercule Poirot introduced us to the theme that the truth can never be hidden for too long.

Dr. Sheppard, one of the protagonists of this novel, only realized this theme when it was too late, after he killed Ackroyd: “A strange end to my manuscript. I meant it to be published some day as the history of one of Poirot’s failures! Odd, how things pan out” (283). All along, he believed that his murder of Roger Ackroyd was brilliant (which it was) and smartly planned out. He played along as a witness and thought no one would ever guess it was him, as he was a good friend of Roger Ackroyd, and he had no direct motive. However, he did not realize that the truth would always rise above, sooner or later, especially with the help of Hercule Poirot. After this, Sheppard learns that it was useless to try to conceal things, as the truth will be figured out eventually. It’s safe to assume that he learned a valuable lesson after this, although it would be of no use, as he ended his life soon after.

The theme of this story has applied to me, multiple times. There have been times when I’ve lied, or done something morally wrong. I thought I would get away with it, but the truth has always found its way to the top. There was one significant time about 7 years ago when my friend and I ganged up against a girl. We forced her to give us her stuff, like her toys or jewelry. She did give us her prized possessions, and we took it without a second thought. I thought I had gotten away with it; however, my mom figured out, and even though I kept denying it, she knew that I did bully the girl. Because of that one time, I’ve learned that the truth will always be known eventually, and now, I try my best not to do many things that I know I’ll regret.

Agatha Christie shows us this theme, and how this affects the character, repeatedly, through the suspenseful and chilling story of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. ‘The truth will always be uncovered in the end’ is a concept that many of us should remember to live by, before we do anything irrational, from saying something somewhat mean to murder.

All the Hidden Emotions

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. This is a cliche that all of us have heard at least a few dozen times in our lives. All the Bright Places, by novelist Jennifer Niven puts a new twist to this old platitude by incorporating this theme into the story.

One of the protagonists, Violet Markey hides the depressed side of her by saying, “No one likes messy. They like smiling Violet. I wonder what Ryan would do if he knew Finch was the one who talked me [into not committing suicide] and not the other way around” (Niven 49). When Violet was on the bell tower to commit suicide by jumping off, she meets the infamous quirky Theodore Finch, who is known to be odd and abnormally fascinated by death and how it works, and it was he who talked her out of jumping. Everyone thinks that it was Violet who saved Finch (Theodore goes by his last name), as Violet puts on a fake persona that you would never expect to commit suicide. All of their classmates, teachers, and the counselor assumed there was no possible way that the ‘mentally-stable’ Violet could ever attempt suicide, however, they never stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, she was also fighting a battle internally. This shows that we can never ‘judge a book by its cover’.

Similary, even Amanda Monk, a seemingly ‘perfect and happy’ girl, is fighting a battle within: “‘If I didn’t think about [commiting suicide], I wouldn’t be [at this support group]’” (286). Again, it has always been assumed that she was this dumb, popular student that really didn’t care what anyone think, and everyone liked her, but obviously, that is not the case. Some might actually see her as one of the smaller antagonists of the story, because she is not exactly nice to Finch. I both agree and disagree — she did call Finch a freak a few times, but this isn’t enough to become an antagonist. What no one could have guessed was that she was also troubled. She has experienced name-calling, and actually has deep insecurities. It’s hard to believe that someone with so many friends could ever have attempted suicide. The theme ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is shown once more with this intriguing character.

The theme of this story has definitely applied to me. More than once I have judged someone based on the little knowledge I have of them after knowing them for only a while. It’s embarrassing to say that sometimes I assume things about people that are not necessarily true. For example, last year, there was a girl I knew who I never talked to. One time, when I saw her, I said, “Hello, how’s it going?”, and she kind of shrugged and walked away. I presumed it was because she wasn’t nice and just did not want to make light conversation with me, but now I know it was because she was actually quite shy back then and did not know how to react when I, a near stranger, said hi. It was more than half a year before I realized that I shouldn’t form my entire opinion of someone based on the one time I interacted with them.

This is a very important message that everyone should learn. We can never know what’s truly going on inside someone, and it’s horrible just to judge them by the part of themselves they put out to the world. Jennifer Niven put this concept in words beautifully, and I don’t think any of us will forget how significant the old saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ really is.

Aristotle Discovers the Secrets of Himself

A lot of incidents have to happen in order for two teenage guys to discover themselves. Benjamin Alire Sáenz, author of the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, does an excellent job in writing exciting incidents that will force the main characters to make decisions that will later on prove to be a turning point in their lives.

Protagonist Aristotle, nicknamed Ari, knows little about himself and thinks he’s a heartless, selfish creature, until the day Dante almost got hit by a car: “[Ari] remember[ed] the car swerving around the corner… [he] woke up in a hospital room. Both of [his] legs were in a cast” (Sáenz 110). Ari didn’t even realize he saved Dante’s life. When his parents and Dante’s parents ask why he did it, he denies that he actually made the choice, and it was more of a reflex. Deep, deep down, though, he knew that it was his choice to save Dante’s life. This is a very dramatic incident, and it is only then when he started getting to know himself. The event forced him to make a decision – to save Dante or not. After no hesitation, he decided to save Dante. This really shows his character, and how he has a heart and just wants others to be safe and happy. Even though he acts like an uncaring teenager on the outside, he’s a very kind and selfless person, and that’s what really matters.

After that depressing incident, Dante’s father relocated to Chicago. That means 8 months that Ari and Dante have to be apart. Here, our very indecisive protagonist is faced with another challenge. Ari’s mom asks if he’s written back to Dante yet, and he replies with a simple “‘Not yet’” (180) and “I don’t need Dante” (183). Dante’s moved far away, and he writes to Ari once a week, obviously trying to keep in touch. Ari doesn’t reply at all, until far after along the story. The author doesn’t state why, but context clues suggest it’s because Ari’s still mad at Dante for being extra nice to him after the car crash accident. He feels like Dante wouldn’t be his friend if he didn’t save his life. Of course, that’s not true, but who knows what’s going on inside of Ari’s mind. Weeks and weeks of resentment go by, and he’s yet to answer the letter. This shows that Ari holds a lot of grudges and doesn’t forgive and forget. He’s the type of person who needs an actual apology (for something that probably isn’t even true) before he can move on. This is not a very good character trait, but it makes Ari more realistic and relatable.

I think I am dissimilar to Ari, because I’ve mostly never had to face difficult decisions in my life. Obviously, I know my personality, my likes and dislikes, my talents, but this is in no way similar to fighting your heart about if you’re gay in the 1980s, when people are extremely homophobic. My life has been pretty straightforward leading up to now, and the conflicts I’ve had to resolve are all very simple. For example, as of this moment, my struggle is if I should aim for an ‘Extending the Standards’ or not. Every struggle I have is either school, friendship, or family related. Compared to Ari’s dilemmas, my struggles as a 13 year old girl are nothing.

These two are not the only decisions Ari has to make to shape his future, but these are definitely two of the most important and most remembered ones. As the story goes on, we will travel with Ari and see how his character changes to become a more open and more forgiving person. Until then, we can just imagine.

Miraculously Matched

bubble-matched

In the utopian community of Matched by Ally Condie, everybody has similar traits and spends every moment of their lives obeying the society’s rules, except for Cassia Reyes, who is thoughtful and has a special personality.

Cassia, the protagonist, is kind and wants to help others: “‘And help him fit in?’…’I will’” (Condie 58). This was when Ky just moved to their city when they were six, and didn’t have any friends. Cassia’s mother asked her to help him fit in, and almost immediately, Cassia agreed. She didn’t even know who Ky was, and yet she already wanted to help him. She sympathized with him, and imagined just how lonely and sad he was, to have to move to another city and abandon the life he lived. Most kindergarteners only want to do what makes them happy, and don’t even pause to think about other lonely kids. This shows that she wants to make everybody feel included and welcome. Even though she is kind and seems passive, she has her own strong opinions.

She generally likes things that are more special, even the dress salesperson says, “‘You’ve picked things outside of the majority in the past’” (25). This proves that everyone thinks Cassia is unlike others. Even someone who only knows her based on her case file assumes that she isn’t superficial and shallow like other girls in the community. She chooses what she wants, and sticks with it. This will help shape the rest of the story, as she has to choose between the path she’s always known and marry Xander, or follow her heart, and choose Ky instead. It’s unheard of for someone to disobey the society’s rules about who they have to marry, but for someone like Cassia, this is a possibility.

Cassia is very different from me, but we share one similar trait: we both want to help others. A recent example is during summer, I became three peers’ summer email buddy because I wanted to assist them into transitioning to ISB. I talked to them in school so they wouldn’t feel sad or lonely. Of course, Cassia is braver than me and more special, but being kind is one similarity I can easily spot.

Cassia has a conflict that will shape her life coming up, but with these examples of her being kind and differing from her peers, I can trust that she’ll make the right decision.

Sources:

Bubble Matched. Digital image. Matched. N.p., n.d. Web.

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