Friday, June 24, 2011

LitSoup: Who is your favorite literary character?

This month's LitSoup question:
Who is your favorite literary character?

Maybe it’s someone featured in several books you have read, or a character that has stayed with you long after you put down the book.

I posed this question to the newsroom, and these are the responses I received:

Tricia Ambrose:
If we’re considering strictly the classics I'd go with Miss Havisham of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations." I’ve always been obsessed with her obsession. I can’t help but empathize with her need for revenge, her being a prisoner in a trap of her own making (like many of us, hers is just more outwardly manifested!)
If we’re branching out, someone who really hooked me was Alice, the title character in "Still Alice." Lisa Genova’s tale of a 50-year-old professor who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is one you won’t be able to put down. Read my review here.

Mike Butz:
Not sure if I have a "favorite" literary character, but there's definitely a character that has "stayed with me long after I put the book down." (Figuratively and literally.)
I submit to you the Giving Tree from Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree." Her/its selflessness and unconditional love toward the boy is so simple yet so remarkable.
I understand there's debate about each character’s personalities and roles, and that some feel the Giving Tree is an irresponsible enabler. But I've always viewed the Giving Tree as caring, generous and altruistic. To this day, whenever I think about the book or am reminded of it, the Giving Tree's unselfishness weighs heavily on my thoughts.

Jean Bonchak:
Among the literary characters who have stayed with me for many years is Piggy from “Lord of the Flies.” He portrays rationality and morality and is taken advantage of and scorned by his peers because of his outward appearance, vulnerability and insecurities. Thus, all the good that he’s able to offer is cruelly snuffed out.

Danielle Capriato:
Anne Shirley is by far one of my favorite fictional characters.
Like many young girls who loved to read, the Anne of Green Gables books always enthralled me as a girl. I read them still every year around Christmas because they are so comforting. (Not gonna lie, “Anne of the Island” is a big favorite for the romance—the way she and Gilbert Blythe are so obviously meant to be together and it takes her until the final pages of that book to realize it… It just satisfies my inner silly romantic girl.)
Anne is quirky, resilient, intelligent and ambitious. The way the series portrayers her as a flighty girl with romantic ideals and her head in the clouds who grows up to be an amazing, strong woman with a wonderful head on her shoulders—while still retaining her imagination, of course!—just makes her such an obvious answer to this question.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn:
“Buck” in Jack London’s “Call of the Wild.” Buck starts out as a ‘city slicker” dog and morphs back into his savage genes toward the end… I the other one are the “Boy and “The Old Man” in Robert Ruark’s “The Old Man and the Boy.”

Robin Palmer:
The characters in The Velveteen Rabbit, especially the wise Skin Horse:
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Tracey Read:
A character that has stayed with me for decades is Great Expectations' Miss Havisham. The image of her still in her wedding dress going mad in the decrepit mansion is so visual.

Cheryl Sadler:
Dolores Price from Wally Lamb's "She's Come Undone". She is depressed and depressing, but for the entire 465 pages I never stopped rooting for her to find something that would make her happy. I think Lamb did an incredible job with her character, creating someone I couldn't let go of, no matter what crazy things she did (stalking her college roommate's boyfriend to the point of moving to his town?????).

This post is part of a LitSoup, a monthly feature on The Book Club compiled of contributions from the newsroom. Send an e-mail or tweet with your suggestions for future LitSoup topics.

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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