Mythology: Past And Present Essay

1141 words - 5 pages

Depending on who you ask to define myth, most times you will get something like, “Stories about fictitious Gods or people that were written a long time ago”. As common an answer as this may be, the real definition states that myth is, “a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, especially one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.” What most people miss with the concept of a myth is the fact that these people were speaking these stories to their family and friends not only as a means of entertainment, but also as a way of explaining things that they did not have an answer to. Mythology actually has quite a bit in common with stories that were written in modern day, and these elements have been passed down over many generations to help not only tell a good story, but convey a message to the reader.
The book “Typical American” has many elements of myth intertwined between its pages. The story’s main struggle is reminiscent of a classic theme among Greek myth: a man following on a course in his life, and along the way he loses himself and must undergo an internal realization as to who he is and what he needs to accomplish. A symbolic instance of when Ralph was lost, trying to find himself is when he was out on his driver’s test and the instructor was basically telling him he had no shot at getting his license. “You’re never going to get your license. You know why? Because you don’t inspire confidence” ( Jen 130). Even though Ralph eventually did get his license, this was symbolic of a time when he was unsure of himself, and lost along the path he had chosen. This example goes hand in hand with a second example depicted in the myth of Heracles. Heracles finds his wife being attacked by a centaur; just in the nick of time he shoots the centaur and rescues his wife, similarly to how Ralph rescues his wife and family from Grover. Grover was not only a big threat to Ralph and his family, but he was a “trickster”, another common tool used by writers of myth. Grover used his mind to not only trick Ralph, but he tricked his wife Helen, too. He basically moved in with them and whenever Ralph was working on adjusting their income, he was in another room flirting with Helen. It was striking to me that her name was Helen and she was wrapped in an affair because in Greek Mythology, Menelaus’ wife Helen committed adultery with Paris of Troy, and this is what led to the Trojan War. Had Helen chosen to leave Ralph for Grover, one can only surmise what Ralph would have done, and how it would have torn his family and life apart into irreparable pieces. The magic of reading this book is being able to relate it to stories that were told thousands of years ago, and while the dust from their bones is long gone, their words still ring true.
Another great example of how myth is apparent in today’s...

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