Essay On The Soloist and The Shine essay

The mentally challenged people have to face numerous challenges and problems while leading their lives in a society consisting of normal people. With limited mental abilities, these people are often regarded to be unproductive, as far as their contribution to the welfare of the society is concerned. This notion held by the people regarding the ability of the mentally challenged people is proved wrong by the books “The Soloist” by Steve Lopez and “Shine” by Scott Hicks.

Both these books provide hope to the mentally challenged people by bringing forth the true stories of severely challenged people who overcome the effects of schizophrenia and succeed in becoming excellent musicians. The book “Shine” brings a more hopeful message to the problem of mentally challenged people in our society, as it shows how a schizophrenic pianist overcomes the effects of his mental illness and gains the appreciation of the people. Message of Hope

Through the depiction of true stories of excellent musicians who succeed in overcoming the effects of a mental illness like schizophrenia, the books “The Soloist and “Shine” bring forth the numerous capabilities of mentally challenged people. In the book “Shine”, the author writes about the effects of psychological disorder of schizophrenia on David Helfgott, a talented pianist and his success in overcoming those effects. People suffering from schizophrenia are considered unfit to work or to be included in the society.

This book proves this notion wrong by presenting a true story where Helfgott manages to create excellent music on his piano in spite of being suffering from schizophrenia. As the book depicts a true story, the level of functioning achieved by a person suffering from schizophrenia is realistic. It also explores the possibilities of treatment and cure of schizophrenia through the recovery of David. The book conveys a hopeful message to the mentally challenged people by displaying belief in their abilities and talents.

David Helfgott’s success at his comeback concert where he is applauded by the audiences proves that mentally challenged people can contribute to the society in a productive way. Hicks (1997) writes “David’s comeback concert was a huge success. ” (pg. 102). Similarly, the book “The Soloist” provides hope to mentally challenged people through the depiction of amazing talent of a violinist who is suffering from schizophrenia.

The book details the story of Nathaniel Ayers, a violinist who is forced to lead his life on the streets owing to his mental illness, schizophrenia. The author of the book, Steven Lopez is the one who notices the talent of Ayers and decides to aid him. Through the words of Lopez, the reader is introduced to the person who in spite of being mentally challenged, plays excellent music on his violin and that also in unfavorable circumstances.

Lopez (2008) writes that Ayers “tucks the violin under his chin, blocks out the roar of traffic and leaves the known world…. he finds a passage that works like a drug and the music pushes him free of all distraction. ” (pg. 120). With the aid of Lopez, Nathaniel Ayers succeeds in returning to a normal life which he used to lead prior to his schizophrenic breakdown. The ability of Ayers to play excellent music in spite of the fact that the functioning of his mental abilities was hampered by schizophrenia provides hope to mentally challenged people.

Although both the books provide hope to mentally challenged people, the book “Shine” is more effective in conveying a hopeful message regarding the problem of mentally challenged people in our society, for it tells the story of a schizophrenic pianist who achieves fame and success in the field of music.


Hicks, S. (1997). Shine. New Line Home Video. Lopez, S. (2008). The Soloist. Putnam Adult. 1st Edition.