There are many books out there that hold multiple encompassing themes and hidden truths within the works. As a kid, we may think of them as silly and fun adventures, but the whimsical ride these books take us on. However, as we grow older we are able to reveal deeper meanings that relate to us on a personal level, symbols and motifs we didn’t realize were even there. From childhood to timeless classics, each book we read shadows the world’s subtle themes and challenges our perceptions. That’s what books are meant to do. They show us the truth through subtle subtext in unexpected ways.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
It is no mystery that C.S. Lewis is a mastermind at hidden meanings and weaving them within his novels in gentle ways. He also loves throwing in simple allegories for faith and redemption based on Biblical beliefs. In the magical world of Narnia, he shows this through every page.
Through the lives of the Pevensie siblings, we see themes of hope and solid faith. Lucy’s hope and faith guide her to Aslan, while the older children have troubles with their faith and fail to see him. Edmund’s fall into the evil temptations of the Witch symbolizes this loss of faith.
There are many themes of good versus evil and even the temptation of believing the lies of the Witch. However, there are so many hints in the story that delve into deeper truths about grace, forgiveness, selfless sacrifice, and the power of redemption.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
In this dystopian masterpiece, we meet our main character, Jonas, and his world of sameness. We follow Jonas (a rebellious and kind twelve-year-old boy) through his journey as he is chosen to be the next Giver and must hold the secrets of their society.
Lowry depicts many themes in this book that highlight the challenge of the status quo and conforming to society. She highlighted the beauty of differences and the significance of personal experience and challenges. There are themes of true freedom, identity, and being able to stress the importance of the uniqueness of each individual. However, there is also a big idea of the importance of memories. Memories can undoubtedly be painful, yet they can bring beauty to our lives. The main underlying message she sends to the reader is that without memory, there is no pain of the events that hurt you, yet it can disrupt the possibility of feeling joy.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This book holds a special place in my little childish heart. To this day, I still read it and find something different every time. And yes, it is a children’s book, but it holds some of the most mature hidden meanings beyond the eyes of a child. It goes through the little prince’s journey and his quest for understanding. He is lost in this big world, goes on adventures, meets new friends, and finds valuable lessons.
The Little Prince holds themes of friendship when meeting the fox. Fox teaches him a lot of much-needed lessons, such as listening to his heart. It shines a light on the theme that the meaningful things in life are not always seen but felt. Another major theme in this novel is the lack of open-mindedness and selflessness in adults. He points out that we must maintain our inner child at heart and open our eyes to the world’s beauty with curiosity and wonder. This book has many adorable yet surreal symbols, such as the hope in the stars, the love and devotion of the little prince and his rose, the danger of avoiding confrontation in the baobabs, and the power of imagination in the box of sheep.
Of course, there are so many more, but I highly encourage everyone to pick up this book and read it with a mature eye and a child’s heart.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
We are taking a turn on genre and themes for this one, but it is one of the most pinnacle books to read in your lifetime. This story takes place in 1922, after World War 1, at the beginning of the Jazz Age. In it are the great themes of love, longing, and the new American Dream.
It touches on the moral decay due to riches and glamour. It showcases the death of the old money high class and the birth of new money. But most importantly, it brings forth a problem of wealth and status and how such illusions come with losing authenticity and love. The main story is about the disillusionment of such things. There are also some interesting notes from Fitzgerald about the emptiness and fragility of materialistic desires.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
This whimsical ride of Alice through her cooky world might seem childlike and fun, but it holds a lot of hidden ideas through symbolism. Victorian society had high standards towards young women and men during the Victorian Era. There were societal norms, hierarchies, and what is prim and proper. However, Carroll also shows Alice’s wacky situation that there is more to such a life.
Carroll touches on themes such as identity, growing up, and the loss of innocence. The world is seen through a child’s eye who (much like The Little Prince) goes through an adventure to call attention to how adults have created rules, standards, and habits that impact us negatively. She goes to see that the creatures she meets are ‘nothing but a pack of cards.’ Alice loses her innocence throughout the novel and wakes up to the world of adults. Constantly, she is looking for her identity, questioning who she is; all the while, everyone is trying to label her as something that she is not. Not only does it touch on societal norms and expectations, but the delicateness of childhood innocence.
Through hidden meanings, we find hidden truths. The very truths that authors feel the need to scream from the rooftops. So… listen. I strongly suggest you read each novel with an open eye. See them with your heart, question, reflect, dive into the depths of the author’s mind, and grow. This is what storytelling is about, to be entertained and find meaning that resonates within every one of us.
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