So, first off, I'd like to apologize for my relative silence--both on the blog and in comments--the past few days. I was at a convention with no internet over the weekend, and then these past few days I have just been completely swamped with work. Hopefully, things will lighten up after this week.
However, my ridiculously large pile of schoolwork is not what this post is about.
The other day in Creative Writing, while discussing The Hunger Games (which he had only just finished for the first time), my teacher made a claim. That you could give him any book he'd read, and he could tell you the overall idea/message/theme of the novel. People proceeded to fire titles at him, and he proceeded to tell us--with confidence, and barely a moment of hesitation--what he thought were the general ideas of these books, The Hunger Games included.
The thing is . . . I didn't agree with any of them.
Honestly, I don't even remember precisely what he said. I only know I vehemently disagreed, on every mentioned book I had read. And I caught myself thinking, No. That's wrong.
Is any interpretation of a book wrong? I've been asked this question before, seen it posed many times. Isn't it up to readers to determine what a book really means?
Personally, I think that's true . . . to an extent. I think there is certain symbolism, certain comparisons, certain underlying messages that can be taken in various ways, and that different readers will interpret things differently based upon their own comprehension and experiences. But on the other hand, I do think you can say something that is completely and utterly wrong. For example, if someone told me the main idea of The Hunger Games was that humans have a crippling terror of unicorns overrunning the world, I would have no qualms telling them that they clearly were not reading the book all that closely.
But as I was listening to my teacher and shaking my head, I saw others nodding every now and then. A flicker of agreement. These interpretations that I so strongly disagreed with were accepted by several of my peers. So, were they that far-fetched after all? Are there "wrong" interpretations of any book?
What's your view?