A Sucker for a Redemption Story

The next DIYMFA Book Club prompt is: Tell us which story type you love and why.

I was thinking about this question not too long ago. My birthday butted up to the long Thanksgiving weekend, so I had plenty of time to watch my favorite movies. Many I’ve watched over and over again seemed to have something in common:

  • Cool Hand Luke – Luke, a cool likable prisoner, refuses to conform.
  • Big Fish – Will’s bigger-than-life father Edward is dying and he finally wants to make sense of the incredible stories he told all his life and his absence as a traveling salesman.
  • Into the Wild – After graduation, Chris McCandless gives up his possessions and money and lives on the road, finally ending up in the Alaskan wilderness.

All three films feature independent men who march to the beat of their own drum. They sometimes drive their loved ones crazy but are adored by their peers, even taking on mythic qualities. I wondered what this said about me but can now see that they are also clearly stories of redemption.

Each has been “chosen” to fight an antagonist that is bigger than himself so that he may redeem himself. Luke fights the law, Edward fights death, and Chris fights nature. As a secondary character, Will is fighting his need to know the truth about Edward’s stories. Redemption occurs when each undergoes a change whether it is in perception, understanding, or letting go.

When I did a search for other books and movies that featured a redemption story, I found more I liked, such as Grand Torino, Little Miss Sunshine, Kite Runner,  and Jane Eyre. When I look at my own memoir, which is about how I only came to terms with my brain tumor after seeing my dad suffer a stroke, I see this same type of conflict and resolution.

What about you? Do you see a similar pattern in your favorite movies and books? What’s your favorite type of story?




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