I noticed that in the young adult novel Ash, that for the main character, Aisling, whose nickname is Ash, from the beginning of the story, things just seem to get worse and worse and don’t seem to have any hope or chance to get better. In spite of all this she keeps going through her days with determination and doesn’t give up she keeps going no matter how bad it gets. The first few lines in the book are about her mother dying,
Aisling’s mother died at midsummer. She had fallen sick so suddenly that some of the villagers wondered if the fairies had come and taken her, for she was still young and beautiful. She was buried three days later beneath the hawthorn tree behind the house, just as twilight was darkening the sky. (Pg. 3)
So from the beginning of the story she is slowly going down hill down the figurative mountain she is on and going into the figurative valley. She goes even further into this valley when he father dies shortly after getting remarried, “He died almost two weeks later. Ash woke up that morning with her heart pounding, and she knew that something was wrong because the house was full of noise.” (Pg. 42). She keeps going through the valley with perseverance because she seems to know that it will keep getting worse, she will keep going deeper and deeper into the valley before it will get better, before she can climb up the next mountain. Just before she thinks it can’t get any worse her stepmother decides to start putting her to work and starts abusing her,
‘Therefore you will start by helping Beatrice in the kitchen every morning. In the afternoon you will review Ana and Clara’s lessons on your own, and then you will assist Beatrice in preparing and serving supper……As it is, I will expect you to work off his debts without complaint, because you are his daughter and it is your responsibility. Do not shirk your duties.’ (Pg. 57)
Despite this fact she knows she has reached the deepest part of the valley and it will start to get better soon. What she uses to keep herself going in these situations is the thoughts and memories she has of her mother as well as her opportunities to walk in the woods and her times with the king’s huntress. She uses memories of her mother to keep herself going when she is being abused by her stepmother and stepsisters,
She must have fallen asleep, he cheek leaning against the door, because she thought she saw someone sitting next to her, and she thought it was her mother. The woman put her arms around Ash, and Ash dropped her head onto her mother’s shoulder, felt the pressure of her mother’s chin on her forehead. Her mother stroked her hair and said, “Don’t worry, Ash, I’m here.” Ash felt the soft collar of her mother’s blouse beneath her cheek. She slipped her arms around her mother’s waist and pressed up close to her, feeling the solid warmth of her body. “Don’t go away again, Mother,” she whispered. “I’ve missed you.” “Shh,” her mother said. “I know. You should rest now.
You’ve been out all day and you’re hungry.” (Pg. 74)
She knows her mother is there helping her through the tough life that she has and she uses that as a reminder to keep going till the end so that she can get to where it gets better to have a better life.
She later meets the King’s Huntress and without realizing it, she sees a better life with her and just has to figure out a way to get there,
She was in the garden the next day, weeding, when she saw the rider out in the meadow. She straightened up, shading her eyes from the noonday sun with one dirt-smeared hand, and slowly the rider came into focus: a green cloak, a bay horse, a shock of dark hair. It was the King’s Huntress, and when she reached the iron gate she called out, “Good afternoon!” “Good afternoon,” Ash replied, surprised, and before she could think, she asked, “What are you doing here?” The huntress laughed. “I am sorry—I did not mean to interrupt you. I was just out for a ride and I admit was curious about whether this was the house you spoke of last night.” “Oh,” Ash said, and then stammered, “it—it is, yes. This is where I live.” (Pgs. 139-140)
She knows there is a special bond between her and the Huntress but she doesn’t realize that it’s love and looking forward to a better life at first, and when she does, she uses the magic of a fairy in the woods named Sidhean to help herself to keep going in order to get to that better life with the kings Huntress,
“You will know,” said Sidhean, “when the time is right.” “Then I wish it,” she said quickly, before she could lose her nerve. She felt his fingers tighten on her shoulders, and she wondered if she were imprinting himself on her: Would the mark of his hands be visible? For now they were surely bound together. “So be it,” he said, and then he stepped away from her— she felt the absence of him like a black cloud blotting out the daylight—-and he bowed, and that disconcerted her more than knowledge that she would have to pay. (Pgs. 162-163)
She knows that asking Sidhean to grant her wish to go to the King’s Hunt at the beginning of the Fall is the only way to get to the better life she sees with the King’s Huntress. She does make it to the end of this life and to a better one with then King’s Huntress because she leaned on others like her mother and Sidhean to get to through her circumstances to get to it,
Ash stepped toward her, dropping her satchel on the ground, and took the huntress’s hands in her own. Though she felt as if the whole world could hear her heart beating, she said, “After I left last night, I was not sure if I would be able to return, but I hoped so, and now I can tell you that it is finished, and I am free to love you.” Then they too the last step together, and when she kissed her, her mouth as warm as summer, the taste of her sweet and clear, she knew, at last, that she was home. (Pg. 264)
I love these things about her because I can relate to them because of what I believe as a Christian. I believe that Jesus in the Bible told us that we will be persecuted, go through trials, and have suffering. He basically said we would have figurative mountains and valleys in our lives and we need to keep going through them and persevere no matter how are it seems or how much we want to give up. He said in Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (New International Version). The reason he said that it was easy was because we have God to lean on and help us through them and to help us to keep going as it says in Psalm 68:19 “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (New International Version). This is similar to way Ash leans on her mother and the king’s huntress to help her through this time of hurt and pain. I also believe God promised us through his help we will make it through and we will not be defeated if we trust in him to help us. In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 it says “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (New International Version). We need to fight through our hard times with the help of God in the same way Ash never let herself be defeated by fighting to keep going with the help of her mother and the king’s huntress. I also believe that if we make it through God promises us glorious rewards at the end of the hard times, in Romans 8:18 it says “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (New International Version). Ash used the reward of being with the King’s Huntress to get through her suffering rather than giving up and letting herself be abused.
So as can be seen we all go through valleys and mountains in our lives we just need to find someone to lean on and help us get through them and we need to remember to not give up because of the rewards and glories that we can look forward to at the end of the sufferings and trials. I loved this because it made me realize that I am not the only one who struggles in this life, all of the people I know go through rough times, and struggles in life, especially those who my fellow Christians, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t have to do it alone, I just have to find a reason and a someone to lean to get me through and that reason is eternal life in Heaven and that someone is God, my Lord and Savior.
This story of Ash and her journey from abused servant to lover of the King’s Huntress seems like it is also a metaphor for our journey in this life. Similar to the way Ash leaned on her mother and Sidhean to get through the struggles and sufferings in her life as an abused servant to her stepmother and stepsisters to get to move out of their house and start a life in the castle with the King’s Huntress, we need to lean on God to get us through the trials and sufferings in our short, abruptly ending life on Earth to get to our eternal, never ending life in heaven with God.