Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Character is No Small Thing (A Guest Post)

(My wife, Liz, is guest posting today and musing about her favorite book characters...)

Lately, Scott and I have had some interesting conversations about the main characters of some of the books we're reading.  We've both decided that a likable main character is a must-have for us in order to really love a novel. 

Me, reading.

I like to read, and when I was a kid, I was a crazy reader. If I got into a book, I would totally spend all day (and sometimes night) reading it. One time, in college, I got really into this historical Christian fiction series - I'm sort of embarrassed to admit this because they were kind of romance-y, which is not really like me, but whatever. I'm not afraid to air some slightly dirty laundry.* :) - but ANYWAY, the point is, I got really into this series and I would take the books to my classes and read them there. During the lecture. Sometimes in plain sight. It's a good thing that my theatre professors liked me.  They just let it go. (I'm sure they thought I was having some sort of crisis. I probably was - it was college, after all.)

I could probably write an entire blog series on my reading exploits when I was younger, but I'll stick to the topic at hand... some of my favorite characters and what it is that makes them likable for me. I figured out that the common thread with all of them was that even though they weren’t perfect, they all tried their best to do what was right, and even though bad things happened to them, they didn’t remain bitter. So, here’s a rundown of a few of them and why I like them:

I love this retro cover!

Jane in Jane Eyre:  For a while in college, my little mantra was “Be like Jane!” She had passion, but as she matured, she realized that she couldn’t allow her life to be ruled by it. She made honorable choices, even though it seemingly destined her for sorrow and loneliness. Sidenote - the newest movie adaptation is awesome - I highly recommend it. It's actually on Netflix right now, so you should check it out. I think it's the best adaptation out there.

Danny from Danny the Champion of the World:  This kid was awesome! If you haven't read this book, go immediately to your nearest library and check it out!  (Or buy it... you won't regret it). This book was written by Roald Dahl (who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and it is a perfect book. I'm not going to tell the plot, but Danny was my hero when I was a kid. He's treated horribly by his teacher, he and his father are very poor, and his mother is dead, but he manages to carry out an ingenious plan that is a joy to read about!

Anne in Anne of Green Gables:  She had a temper! And she could hold a grudge like no other! (Remember that feud with Gilbert?) But, she always strove to live a life of honesty and integrity. Also, she always appreciated her friends and looked for beauty and goodness in everything. And, THANKFULLY, L.M. Montgomery didn't just stop at one book. There are 8 all together in the series.  I read this series about once a year.

Jean Valjean in Les Miserables:  Yes, it took me 2 years to read this. (I kept getting bogged down in the LONG digressions about various French Revolution battles, a history of the development of the sewer system of Paris, etc.) Valjean was a bitter ex-con who is offered a chance at a new life and then spends the rest of it doing good deeds and protecting and providing for a little orphan girl he promised to care for. The musical is good, but people, the book is better.  I honestly think that, even though it took me so long to get through it.

Harry in the Harry Potter series:  Orphaned as a baby, raised by his cruel aunt and uncle, and then hunted by the evil-est of all evil wizards, he had a hard life. And despite a few times of losing his temper (and that one book where he was really, really angst-y, which was kind of annoying), he expressed complete loyalty to his friends, eventually laying his life down for them (literally).

There have been so many great characters written throughout the ages, who have I left out? What are some of your favorite characters?

*The series was the Voice of the Wind series (or something like that) by Francine Rivers... yes, it was romance-y-ish, but I remember really liking those books... I haven't read them since (it's been about 15 years) so I don't really remember the plot or the characters or anything, though, so I wonder how I would feel about it now...


  1. You can't forget about Frodo, Samwise, or Gandalf, Gandalf being one of my favorites. I also like Chauntecleer from the Book of the Dun Cow.

  2. Anne in Persuasion - her noble character, her patience, her unbelievable loyalty, her undying love for a man she thought she had lost...
    Ma in Little House books - I love her; I wanted to be her; she was my hero.
    Jane in Jane Eyre - her stand for truth and honor even though it cost her everything - especially the man she loved and who loved her.
    As a child I was a voracious reader - a tree and my huge, high closet were my reading spots. There were 5 children; I was the oldest; I had to be alone.

  3. Samwise Gamgee might be my all time favorite character ever. Always overlooked, always the underdog, treated poorly and discredited by the hero who wouldn't have been a hero if it weren't for Sam. (who was also willing to die for his friend by the way); Knowing his instinct yet succumbing to the warped wishes of this friend - the friend who believed Golum over him. And if that weren't enough, he grew from a shy, never-taking-a-chance boy to the actual hero in the story - although not recognized as such - (and who rescues the hero from inescapable predicaments maintaining that hero's heroism). I mean, what's not to love? He even got the girl in the end. I still want to marry him. Darn that Rosie.