I’m not generally a fan of fantasy. but I really loved The Wizard of Earthsea, which I found a wonderful parable. The story is about a young man making his way in the world, learning his craft, which happens to be wizardry, and struggling mightily to overcome something of his own making. He is struggling in a literal or literary sense to overcome his own inner demons. At books end he is able to “name it” and the demons name is Ged, he himself. This overcoming his demon is his own inner struggle to become a fully functioning adult. So once he names his demon, tames his demon–he becomes whole, fully Ged, an adult.
We all must struggle to overcome our inner demons, our doubts, fears; we run from this responsibility–and yet the demon will always find us, until one day we turn the tables on it and chase it, fearless of what will happen. One can not conquer running from fear. By chasing it, by moving directly at our demon, we weaken it; it is the one always running with its shadow face looking back. Finally it runs out of room, i.e. earthsea–we track it down and it is so enervated from the chase, we defeat it, and make ourselves whole, and fully adult. This is a wonderful coming of age parable. I would love to use this for a literature circle with other coming of age books, perhaps a book about a boy or a girl struggling while studying for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. This novel feels ceremonial in that way. There are aboriginal stories, native American stories I believe about children going into the wilderness and fending for themselves–that might also work here. It would be interesting for students to consider at various stages of the book what Ged is chasing or being chased by. Le Guin does a masterful job of keeping this demon vague and foreboding enough that we are never sure what it really is.