Speaking honestly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of the Cardboard Box is a rather peculiar piece of literature that I would not expect to read in an academic setting. Throughout my academic life, the literature I have read has typically related to a greater educational topic. For example, in my tenth grade literature class, all the literature we read was related to George Orwell’s 1984 and dystopian society. In my twelfth grade composition class, every piece we read related to African-American identity. The Adventures of the Cardboard Box falls under a mystery category, similar to the Nancy Drew series or Janet Evanovich books. I’m not aware of many academic settings that incorporate mystery, especially Sherlock Holmes into a curriculum. The main reason that I don’t expect mystery to be taught in academia is mostly because it is very straightforward and self-explanatory. As you read the story, the plot is given chronologically and simply. Therefore, it does not often seem like mysterious literature has much deeper meaning.
While mystery seems like an atypical topic to be taught, The Adventures of the Cardboard Box is not limited by its genre. The short story is well written and contains a number of literary devices. Doyle incorporates a large vocabulary into his story, uses dialogue and varied sentence structure. I found it particularly interesting that Doyle began his story with a short paragraph, which essentially gives his intentions of the work. Doyle uses metaphors, descriptive language, as well as strong verbs in conforming to some of the main aspects of classic literature. However, a large amount of classic literature always concludes with some sort of moral or lesson, summarizing the work’s progression and what the reader should take away from it. Typically, mysteries don’t include much after thought or lesson, for that matter. They end with either a solved problem or a lingering dilemma. The Adventures of the Cardboard Box is in accordance with the bulk of mysterious literature, being that it does not have a moral.
Also, typically mystery isn’t the most realistic of genres. While not all academic literature is realistic, receiving severed ears in a package seems a bit far-fetched. One of the most important parts of a literature class is to be able to relate the literature you read to current or historical situations. This is important because it furthers your understanding of the topic and also can personalize it for you. While Doyle’s piece is most certainly literature, it is not a typical story that would be read in a literature class.