Confession: I like allegories.
It seems that in modern times, especially in the English-major world, allegories have a bad rep. I understand, I do. Allegories do not have subtle, well-crafted symbolism. When they have a bad guy, his name is usually something like Mr. Pride or Spiteful. Allegories do not have complex, multi-dimensional villians; they're just prideful or spiteful. Also, authors of allegories do another thing that most English-y people tend to despise: the whole point of their story is to convey a blatant, moral message. That's it.
I understand these criticisms, and I usually agree. Movies like "The Day the Earth Stood Still" drive me crazy because their message is so heavy-handed. Can't they figure out a more subtle way to disperse their message then having their characters blurt it out every twenty minutes or so? Do they think their audience is stupid? Even though I often feel like that in any other genre, I don't get annoyed by the in-your-face nature of allegorical messages. I mean, that's kind of the point.
Take Hind's Feet in High Places. It's one of my favorite books, and it's an allegory to the core. I stupidly left my copy in the States, but thankfully my mom has a copy in Hong Kong. I took it with me to Bangkok and have been reading it. This is probably at least the sixth time I've read the book, but it moves me every time. Sure, there are some things I don't like about it, like the way the author puts the Biblical songs into the book. Honestly, they don't fit. But other than that, I love it.
It's about the journey of a lame, rather ugly, and very timid girl named Much-Afraid as she goes to the High Places. The Chief Shepherd whom she serves and loves promises her that he will make her beautiful and make her feet like hinds'. Most importantly, the seed of love is planted in her heart. Much-Afraid goes through so much! She's given two frightening companions, Sorrow and Suffering, and they have to go through deserts and forests and climb precepices before they can reach the High Places.
Despite it's lack of literary prestige, that book always touches me deeply. When I read about Much-Afraid's time near the Sea of Loneliness or her struggle to accept her companions, Sorrow and Suffering, it really makes me think about my own journey. It helps me to see my journey through life as something bigger than my current state, my current dry spell, my current doubts. Sure, sometimes I walk through a Forest of Trials and Tribulations, but it is a process of refining me and making me more able to walk in the heights.
I figure, who cares if it's a great literary work? It helps my soul, and I think that's enough.