As is often the case in folktales or fables, many of the characters of Kneeknock Rise are rather silly in their fears and beliefs, but the power of the novel is such that even as readers are led to chuckle about the silliness of the townspeople, they are forced to wonder if they, and all human beings, are not a little like them. Despite Egan’s “scientific” debunking of the myth of the Megrimum, the people choose to believe in the monster, preferring to continue their apparently foolish rituals of lighting candles, hanging onions, and carrying wishbones for protection instead of being delivered from fear. The fable suggests that the need for belief in human beings is so powerful that people will sometimes deny reality and invent a system of belief.
Yet, if it makes such thought-provoking suggestions about the nature of human faith, the novel also suggests much about the power of peer pressure in shaping the collective beliefs of a community, an issue that is of extreme importance to young people. The novel hints at the fact that a number of individuals may indeed know the secret of the Megrimum but demonstrates that it is extremely difficult for anyone to disagree with public opinion and remain in the town. Uncle Ott, who knows the secret, must leave and wander the countryside in order to have a chance at happiness.
(The entire section is 231 words.)
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