What Kind Of Stories Matter?

When someone shares a story with another, there need be a sort of interest in the subject or matter of the story for the story to matter to them in any way. If one does not care about the story being expressed to them, then the story simply does not matter to THAT person. However, if the guy sitting next to the one whom the story doesn’t matter to actually takes some interest in the storyteller’s tale, then it does matter to THAT specific person. A story only matters to those who care about or take interest in listening, reading, or sharing it.

Everyone has had an experience where someone is talking to you forever because one story leads to another and another and another…I have been guilty of trying to find any excuse to leave the conversation, but you cannot leave because they have you sucked in. It was not that I did not want to talk to the person telling the story, or that I didn’t enjoy their company but because I was not interested in the stories they chose to share with me. I had no interest in the subjects, and they benefitted me in no way so why would this story matter to be?

What kind of stories matter?

A story only matters to those who want to hear it. Determining if a story matters or not is all up to the one listening to it being told or reading it. A story is only significant to someone if it impacts them in a way that helps them or pleasures them. A story that matters helps one converse and grow because if a story matters to you, there is a reason you want to keep listening or reading it.

While reading Sandra Cisneros’s The House On Mango Street, I quickly became interested in the stories Esperanza tells. Because I wanted to find out more about her life and the lives of the others she tells stories about, the stories mattered to me. In the chapter, “The First Job”, Esperanza obtains her first job working at a photo shop by matching pictures to their negatives;  in order to get this job, she must lie about her age. Esperanza explains how she “put on the navy blue dress that made me look older”, and when she says this we get a feeling that she is still a young girl that is maturing but is not an adult yet. She is at an age where if she wears certain things, she may look a different age. As the chapter carries on, Esperanza meets an older man who welcomes her to this new job, and she doesn’t think anything negative about this, however when the man asks for a “birthday kiss” from her, she is about to give him a kiss on the cheek when, “he grabs my face with both hands and kissed me hard on the mouth and doesn’t let go,” (Cisneros 55).To give a man you barely know a kiss on the cheek would be a bit scary and disturbing to anyone, but at this time in age, Esperanza is ignorant to this older man’s intentions with her and does not see that he is sexually harassing her. You have to consider how naive she is to believe this older man was not hitting on her.

This story caught my attention and I became interested in it because of the shocking element the story contains. This story may matter to some because one may have been in a situation like Esperanza’s and been assaulted or harassed in a way like this, so the story she tells could intrigue a reader more. However, others may not be interested in the story told at all and think it is meaningless.

In the chapter, “Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark”, Esperanza tells a story about her abuelito dying and how she has never see her papa cry until then. I felt too involved with the story at this point when reading, so I obviously already cared about the story and wanted to hear more. Esperanza chose to share this story with us because her family mattered so much to her so she decided to tell us something she knows well. Even if you did not read the whole novel up to this incident, this story can still matter to anyone. Thinking about your grandpa, or another loved one, dead is devastating. Many can relate to a loved one passing, so the story will matter to those who want it to.

No matter how important a story might be to one person, it can mean nothing to another. Sally’s mother proves this true when, concerned, Esperanza tells her that her daughter kissed these boys in order to get her keys back. In response, her mother “not looking up from ironing” says, “That’s all? What do you want me to do… call the cops?” and she continued to iron (Cisneros 97). What seemed to be matter to Esperanza, mattered very little, if at all, to Sally’s own mother. Surely Sally’s mother cares for her, so what she does should interest and matter to her, but we do not see that in this case, thus proving that even if you care about someone or something, their story may not matter to you.

In the video titled “ReMoved” a young girl states at the beginning of the video, “Even if you ask, even if you listen, you do not really hear or see or feel. You don’t remember my story.” The young girl grows up in an abusive household with her drunken-father, mother, and little brother. She grows up having to take responsibility of her younger brother and take the abuse from her father and see her mother abused and demeaned. Because she feels as if there is nobody there for her that cares, she does not expect anyone to care about her or her story. She assumes that even if you try to help and listen to her, you will not truly understand or care about the matter because you haven’t experienced it. Because she is so young, she believes this is true, and it may be, but sadly to say there are many people who have encountered similar experiences that can relate to her. Her story would matter to those who have lived the trauma she has been through and would matter to those who care about helping others in need.


Stories matter to certain people because they bring people together by means of communication that inspire, interest, or inform the one listening or reading it. One determines whether a story matters depending on how they perceive it. A story only matters to those willing to listen to it.


(cc-by-Milena Rakocevic)


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