Author Name: Dena Hunt
Contribution to Image and Likeness: “Pear Trees”
Bio: Dena Hunt is the author of the award-winning historical novels Treason (Sophia Institute Press) (IPPY Gold Medal 2015), and The Lion’s Heart (Full Quiver Publishing) (CALA 2016), as well as several short stories and reviews, online and in print, at Dappled Things, St. Austin Review, and The Pilgrim Journal. She also writes for FaithCatholic, a liturgical publication company. She is currently working on her third novel. She is the book review editor of St. Austin Review. Find Dena on Amazon.
About “Pear Trees”
What inspired you to write this piece?
I became a Catholic while I was teaching at the University of New Orleans and then decided to return to my native rural Georgia, where I taught high school English for the next two decades. After retirement, I returned to teaching in college. It was my students here at the university who inspired me to write “Pear Trees.”
How did you find yourself inspired to write this/these piece(s)?
I observed the young women I taught, their veiled fears and confusions. A lot was gained by the feminist movement, but a lot was lost, and young women today have no reference point for those losses.
What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?
I didn’t write about Theology of the Body. I wrote a story about what is happening to women, to femininity itself. Abortion is part of it. So is the loveless sex so common now. So many young women unknowingly participate in their own degradation.
There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise. What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?
It’s the same distinction that has always existed. Nonfiction, beautifully written or not, gives us facts or information; theories, philosophies, or opinions. Only fiction and poetry show us the truth. Paradoxical, yes, but after all, Christ himself used stories to tell truth.
Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing. Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?
I can’t answer that, because, as I said, I simply told a story about a young woman. I had no other purpose.
There is something mysterious that occurs between writer and reader. It’s the same mystery that happens when we look at what we know to be art, and it’s the same with music. One sees it, hears it, reads it, and recognizes it. Just as Christ taught the parables: Those who have ears to hear do indeed hear. All art is evangelical because all art is concerned with truth.
Talk to us about the significance of the title “Pear Trees.” What parallels do you see between the pear trees that give this piece its name and the culture of the younger people shown in the story?
The trees are hybrid, “artificial,” bred as a landscaping device, to create an appearance; there is no “messy fruit” that would spoil the setting. Just so, our modern secular culture attempts to eliminate nature, and natural law.