The quotation offers a strong defense for the humanities, and literary study in particular. Narrative is likely our oldest form of instruction on what it means to be human within a social contexts. While philosophy may explore in the abstract what we should do, literature offers us three-dimensional characters engaged in the problems of life. Narrative can show us characters who are partially likable who do the wrong thing. This allows us to enter into their minds and reflect on the less obvious causes to human error and evil.
For instance, Shylock's moving speech in defense of revenge is based on a history of abuse within Christian Venice. His pursuit of Antonio's life is hard to defend, but his hunger for revenge is quite understandable. Similarly, Portia's speech on mercy is also compelling and often quoted, yet she does not practice mercy regarding Shylock. This is realistic enough, and paradoxical on the surface. The reader must explore these characters' complexity to understand both the noble and ignoble motivations behind these actions.
In Faulkner, we find a linear narrative (a journey story) fragmented among various character consciousnesses. Jewel and Darl, for instance, may "speak" of the same instance, but it appears incredibly different within their individual stream of consciousness. This too is a paradox, for we tend to want to believe that objective reality can be understood as a tangible fact, yet when processed by each individual, we find a myriad set of meanings, each leading to different motivations. For instance, Cash is dedicated to fulfilling his mother's wish to be buried in her home county; Darl just wants to end the madness and indignity of the journey yet he is deemed insane for burning the barn.