“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.” – The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen
Love has long been hailed as a redemptive force. Everyone from Jennifer Rush to Huey Lewis and the News have been singing about the ‘power of love’, and fiction has been exploring themes around love since forever. And in fiction, love can save you from just about anything.
Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Love conquers many things in Harry Potter. Love is central to the story, as it is Love that Lord Voldermort cannot know, and Love that is the greatest magic of all that will ultimately defeat him.
In a literal sense, Love conquers the killing curse – Lily Potter dies to save her son, her sacrifice protecting him for many years from dangers. Love for Sirius Black forces Voldemort from Harry’s body.
But also, the love between the main characters, and the minor ones, is what keeps them together, keeps them fighting. People love Harry enough to fight for him, to give their lives fighting for him, and that unity is what ultimately brings Voldemort down. His army driven by fear and lust for power are nothing against the armies of good, fighting from a place of love.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
In which Love conquers Alzheimers. And many other things besides. Allie and Noah are different people from different social classes, separated by years and distance. And yet, before her wedding, Allie feels compelled to revisit the her first love, Noah, and that love conquers everything that’s passed between them.
And in the secondary story, an elderly Noah prays for a miracle, reading the titular notebook to his wife, whose dementia means she no longer even knows who she is. But Love conquers even that, bringing her back to him long enough for a pretty skeevy beginnings of sex scene.
I actually prefer the movie version where Love ultimately conquers death, allowing them to pass away peacefully together so one doesn’t have to live without the other. Not often I prefer the film to the book, but definitely so in this case.
Love Conquers, Lost Love Destroys
Of course, the redemptive power of love only really works out in a happy ending. Mean writers can give their characters a great and powerful love, but then take it away – usually destroying the character(s) in the process, leaving them with plenty of juicy problems and conflicts to work through during the narrative.
One of the most heartbreaking love stories I can think of is that of Kissin’ Kate Barlow and Sam the Onion Man in Holes. Here, love conquers social divides – Kate is white, Sam is black, the story is set in the late 1800s – but only briefly. Kate and Sam are seen kissing and Sam is killed, prompting Kate, a kindly school teacher, to turn into ‘Kissin’ Kate’ a bank robbing outlaw.
But in a twisted way, Kate’s love for Sam did conquer her enemies. She buried her treasure on the land of the man who killed Sam, telling him that his children and his children’s children could dig all they liked, but they’d never find it. Generations of his family drove themselves to madness looking for the treasure, preventing them from ever leading happy, fulfilling lives. Not a happy ending, but a small victory in a way.