The Feline Language

Twenty years ago, the world met Harry Potter and his companions. One of the more memorable lines from the J.K. Rowling series was spoken by Albus Dumbledore: ''Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.'' What ideas or experiences bring you joy?

In exploring the Western literary canon, I’ve noticed a clear link between felines and mortality. For instance: why do cats have nine lives? Why is the archetypal “cat lady” usually an elderly spinster? And why does Schrödinger's cat only exist in a paradoxical state between alive and dead? When I posed such questions, I received the proverbial warning: “Curiosity killed the cat.” Yet the adage actually means the opposite. In its full context, though the hypothetical cat may have died from over-inquisitiveness, certainly “satisfaction brought it back.”

Through my silly obsession with the literary connotation of the housecat, it’s no surprise that I love English for its intricacies and idiosyncrasies. Literature is a bridge across generational and geographic boundaries; its lessons remain relevant despite place and time. Through the written word, you encounter the dazzling and oft-contradictory perspectives of America’s welfare queens, starving artists, walking stereotypes, churchgoers and left-behinds. Reading about others promotes empathy and understanding, notions I find increasingly relevant in a society agitated by racial tensions, natural disasters, and economic downturns.

Analyzing English literature is a close...

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