In the Image of God: Theme, Characterization, and Landscape in the Fiction of Orson Scott Card

By Michael R. Collings | Go to book overview

7
"The King's House Is All the World": Building the Crystal City

The problem of defining interpretive meaning in Card's fictions is difficult to resolve, as it is with many writers. In this particular case, the difficulties are complicated by Card's advocacy of story as a valid end apart from thematic or symbolic interpretations, coupled with his frequent comments that he avoids overt symbolism whenever possible. On the other hand, the complex interpenetrations of imagery, symbolism (whether conscious or unconscious), history, and thought in his recent novels certainly imply an awareness of meaning and effect. In a letter written in 1980, Card provided a reader with guidelines for interpreting one of his more difficult stories; at the same time, he indicated the degree to which he considers his stories not only as narratives, but also as attempts at exploring intricate relationships and meanings:

Does "St. Amy's Tale" mean anything? Why, of course, to those who know how to read it. Some stories that I write are quite straightforward and easy to grasp and they are fun to write and fun to read. But sometimes I have things to say that cannot glibly be said in a frank way, complicated effects that can only be brought off through subtle interplays of language and event in a story. "St. Amy's Tale" is, as the title might suggest, half religious and half folk: it is meant to be read as myth, but as true myth, and among the threads running through it are (1) the idea of purgation as a means of redemp-

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