Source: The Well-Educated Mind (2 edn 2016), p. 86 Middle.
Related to this is one final question: What is fiction meant to do? Why are you reading a novel at all? Are you expecting to find out some truth about human nature? Should a novel reveal some difficult, hard-to-face truth about ourselves? Do novels show the inevitable end of certain paths? Or are they, instead, agents of moral change? Do they show us models so that we can amend our ways? This idea—that fiction provides us with a model—itself has a certain assumption behind it: There is some standard of human behavior which applies to all of us, in all cultures, and our quest in life is to uncover it.
The opposing idea was once expressed by Alexander Pope in the phrase, "Whatever is, is right." The novel doesn't set out an ideal, because to assume that there is such a thing as an unchanging standard of behavior governing all people at all times is narrow minded and myopic. The novel has no business in providing models. It simply explores realities: It opens numerous doors for you to peer through, but makes no suggestions as to which threshold you should cross.