The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction. Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.
My tone is not meant to be obnoxious. I am in a state of shock.”—
Flannery O’Connor responds to a school teacher’s odd take on A Good Man Is Hard to Find, offering some timeless broader insight on storytelling and interpretation in the process.
Susan Sontag put it even more forcefully: “Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling… Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world.”