and them, making associations difficult even relative to objects or thoughts within a paragraph.Yet the nature of this separation draws us in—to question the separation, and, in turn, to questionthe characters and their motives and conclusions. In some cases we, like the narrators of “Worlds,” “Stars of the New Curfew (Stars),” and “What the Tapster Saw (Tapster)” (with their images of the fantastic and nightmarish) are in worlds we have no chance of fully understanding.We can only learn the rules, as the tapster does, and hope we will not suffer brutal conks on thehead when we make presumptions.The method each story has of drawing the reader into the world of these characters,despite the surface objectivity, is the ancient motif of the quest. This motif is common inliterature, especially in myths, and is familiar to most readers. The traditional journey involvesfour major components: crossing the threshold into the underworld (heaven, hell, jungle, NewYork City, the subconscious, etc.), selecting or meeting the guide to the underworld, a series of tests or experiences, and return to normal life where the protagonist integrates the experiences of the underworld back into his (all of the protagonists in Stars are male) life or world-view(Campbell 245-6).
The last component, the integration, usually contains explanation of thesignificance of the journey and its implications both to the protagonist and to the reader, but thisobservation is missing or unfulfilling in the stories of
. One way to think of a quest is a journey with a purpose, a goal, a Holy Grail—if you will. In this type of journey, the tests of the protagonist often involve side-quests for objects that assist the protagonist in reaching the finalGrail, or challenges to the character’s values—chastity, honor, intellect, etcEach of the characters in the stories of
is on a quest. None of them realizes it because they each, in their own way, suffer from blindness of their own motivations. We see eachof them undergo a moment of real blindness, which symbolizes the blindness they have sufferedthroughout. When they regain sight, tradition tells us that they should have a new perception
This version of the simplification of Campbell’s ideas about mythic adventures is due in no small part to DonnaBauerly’s illustration in her “Course Packet” for English 596: Writers for the 21st Century.