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I recently had an argument with my mother, which rarely happens. We didn’t argue about my spending habits, or my post-graduation plans, or my grades, or any other typical area where a college kid might butt heads with her parents. Instead, we argued about books.

After finishing Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman over spring break, I couldn’t help talking about it with the rest of my family. As we drank coffee together one afternoon, my mom asked me what made that play so special. I explained the plot to her. She looked at me for a few seconds after I finished summarizing, and asked, “So, it isn’t a comedy?”

I found myself at a loss. “Well, it has some funny moments, but no. Ultimately it is a tragedy.”

“Oh. Well, I don’t want to read it, then.”

And with that comment, our argument began. How could she nonchalantly write off great works of literature just because they include some sad parts?