Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Memorable Characters

Think about all the books you've read over the years. Do you have a favorite character, one whose name is etched in your mind forever? When you think of her, you picture the way she walks, or hear a word she uses that is uniquely hers. Have you read a book that the minute you finish the last page, you've forgotten the main character's name? What's more, you don't recall a thing he did that makes you care whether he got what he wanted or not. What makes the difference? Why does one character stay with you and make you smile, or frown, or cry, but another character leaves you indifferent to his/her fate?

One of my favorite heroines is Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Why does she stay with me, after all these years? She's selfish, self-centered, cares only about herself (and Ashley), and delights in breaking young men's hearts. She uses friendships to her advantage. Her goal in life is to make Scarlett happy. What she achieves, however, is anything but happiness. And I think, to me, this is why I remember her. As I read, I hope she'll change. I hope she'll have compassion for those around her. That she'll turn out to be a decent young woman. She suffers hardships, hunger, and loss of children, but to the very end, she's still Scarlett. Her goals change when she makes an amazing discovery. I like to think that she learned something and in her future, she might turn into a daughter her mother and father would be proud of. So I left the story with hope for her.

This week I'd love to hear your comments on your favorite characters, why a particular one stays with you when others are soon distant memories. I'm thinking now of some modern day heroes and heroines to see which ones I'll remember, the way I do Katie Scarlett O'Hara.

10 comments:

  1. Proving once again what a child I am, I would have to say one of my favorite characters is Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series.

    Like me, Anne often speaks or acts without thinking, sometimes causing really bad things to happen and often embarrassing moments to occur.

    She seeks to find her dreams and her suitor outside of herself and finally discovers that she is in charge of her destiny, and that the one person who she thought was the least ideal suitor is the man she loves.

    I've read all eight Anne books. The last one focuses more on her children than Anne and Gilbert, but through to the end, Anne is the same girl who came to Green Gables many years ago.

    Cheryl

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  2. OH, I like Anne, and I haven't read her story. Will add her to my reading list. You say that Anne is like you by speaking and acting without thinking. Our own personalities likely influence our choice of favorite characters. Except, I don't think I'm like Scarlett. Other people's feelings matter to me. :)

    Thanks for stopping by, Cheryl.

    Bev

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  3. Dagny Taggart.

    I think we're all drawn to characters we can relate to, in some respect. Also, it's important that these characters be well-rounded, reflecting not only our "heroic" notions of ourselves, but our flaws - so that we can nurture the hope that their triumphs are within our grasp. We live vicariously through them. Even through the Hannibal Lecters of the literary world, for they can get by with our darker fantasies (and yet, our brighter natures are pleased when some form of justice is served - as we know it ought to be). Just as our heroes and heroines should not be perfect, our villains cannot be perfectly evil; a good villain has redeeming qualities that allow us to sympathize and relate on some level.

    And they have to be a bit larger than life, of course - otherwise, why read? There are plenty of interesting "characters" in our real lives, already, aren't there?

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  4. Good points, Holly. Yes, interesting characters are all around us. How many of our ideas for our characters come from our own families, or friends?

    And we do cheer when the villain gets what's coming to him/her.

    Bev

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  5. My top four characters are
    Fred Weasley (he just cracks me up and he's a wizard!)
    Junie B Jones (what a sass!)
    Ponyboy from The Outsiders (tries so hard to stick to his convictions despite his circumstances)
    and Jake Brigance from A Time to Kill - honest, loyal husband, intelligent

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  6. Good ones, Kelly.

    I like Ponyboy, too.

    I'm not familiar with Jake Brigance. Will have to make his acquaintance.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Bev

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  7. I like Christy. The time period and location of the story appeals to me. She went to the mountains to teach and it was so different than the city where she lived and grew up. The mountain folk were very different, but she came to care for them very much.

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  8. Another good one, Janet. I enjoy reading about life in different time periods, too. It sure makes me appreciate our modern day conveniences.

    Glad you stopped by.

    Bev

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  9. I'm sorry I missed this earlier. Actually I did a blog today about lessons we learned from some of our favorite childhood characters.

    I have a bunch, a lot of them from childhood. I love Peter Pan who taught me to believe in pixies and the wonderment of childhood. I love Dorothy Gale who taught me there's no place like home. I also love Scarlett - she is my hero because she taught me to let things go "I can't think about it right now, I'll just go crazy. I'll think about it tomorrow." Ummm, yes I have issues with her self-centeredness and way she treats others too but always stay optomistic she will find her way someday. I think Dumbledore is one of my favorite characters though - he is very much like Merlin and offers sage advice that it is the choices we make that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities. Lot of truth there.

    Great blog, Beverly!
    Nancy, from Just a Thought…

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  10. Great choices, Nancy. I like Dumbledore and Peter Pan and Dorothy too. We can see ourselves in so many characters. That's why books are so wonderful.

    Thanks for your comments. I'll check out your post. IT sounds interesting.

    Bev

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