Foster has already talked, in great detail, of the borrowing that occurs in every text you could ever read. It really is something that a beginning reader, like many college students can attest to, do not think about. Many times, it’s just that the referenced story is something that the reader is not familiar with. Sometimes I can read a story and make connections, and sometimes I cannot. It’s all about what has been alluded to. Obviously, if the story is something that I have not read or have any context with, I’m not going to get and it’ll go right over my head. However, in the chapter “Hanseldee and Greteldum”, Foster makes a good point; lots of people know about fairy tales.
Thinking about it, it all makes sense. When we are young, we are being read to, not reading for ourselves. Therefore, the things we are subjected to are chosen for us, out of the age old tales that are always told to children. It’s a bit of a tradition, at this point, to tell your child the story of “Hansel and Gretel”, or to let them watch Alice in Wonderland. Humans are creatures of habit, after all, and we always return to what is familiar to us. So we tell our children the same tales that we heard, and as time goes on those tales are transformed into the literature of today. They still have the same elements, or perhaps, as Foster pointed out, “You don’t have to use the whole story… We’re not trying to re-create the fairy tale here.” As long as we understand where the story comes from, we can make the connections needed and understand the stories in better ways.
It’s thought that the most quoted person in the world is Shakespeare, but where did he get his ideas, his base points? From the stories he heard as a child, no doubt. The sheer fact of the matter is that no matter who, you probably heard stories as a child, and they affects who you are as a writers. That in turn affects the readers, who they become over the journey of reading. It’s just a matter of seeing those connections interwoven in all literature. Perhaps if we could all follow the breadcrumbs to the starting point, reading would become much easier for a lot of people.