What happens to you when you read?
What happens to you when you read?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

What happens to you when you read?

7.1 Story world and genre

You may find as a reader that some stories are more transporting, whilst others might be harder for you to access or get into. Readers often have preferences for the type of literature that they choose, for example some readers find that novels work best to transport them, and you looked at some examples from novels in activities above. Some readers find instead that poetry is especially transporting. We invite you to read the poem below to see if, and how, this example works for you in this way. If you are not accustomed to reading poems, you could read it as if it were a mini-story. This poem is a kind of conversation and we hope it draws you in.

Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?

   Yes, to the very end.

Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?

   From morn to night, my friend.


But is there for the night a resting-place?

   A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.

May not the darkness hide it from my face?

   You cannot miss that inn.


Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?

   Those who have gone before.

Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?

   They will not keep you standing at that door.


Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?

   Of labour you shall find the sum.

Will there be beds for me and all who seek?

   Yea, beds for all who come.

Selected Poems, Wordsworth Editions, 145

The world of this poem is the world we live in, where at times everything can seem an uphill struggle. The speaker asking the questions seems quite mournful but is still asking as though there could be a positive answer. The other speaker, the one answering, seems to be at least a bit reassuring, saying that the inn will be reached, and that hard work will have its reward. This poem may have transported you into identifying with both speakers here and you may have wondered if they imply the two sides of every person? In this way, a poem can become a larger metaphor, standing in for life itself. As we write this, the poem also seems to speak to our present moment, in the Covid-19 pandemic.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371