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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Blogger Hop: Me And My Favourite Characters

This week’s starter is a question about whether we ever act like our favourite book characters. That has to be a one-word answer: no.

But as it’s a post starter, I will instead talk about characters with whom I identify or whom I admire.

As a child, it was Jo March from Little Women. I was a girl who didn’t see why boys should have all the fun, and I wrote. In my case, it was on the beach rather than in the attic(we didn’t have one! We lived in a flat, though one not far from the beach).

And because I was reading Enid Blyton as well as American classics and Greek mythology, I identified also with George, the tomboyish girl in the Famous Five stories. I thought her cool! And she was the one with the dog, Timmy - what was not to like?

In Greek mythology, I liked Atalanta, the huntress and only female member of the Argo crew. I would have loved to go on that adventure.

The years went by. I found other characters to charm me. Young Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird was a passionate reader like me. And that wonderful scene where she starts school and the teacher is annoyed because she can read already - my favourite scene! In fact, I read it in the Banned Books Week virtual readout on YouTube one year. Here’s the link! Sorry, no American accent, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it anyway. I remember in my first year of teaching doing that scene with my Year 9 English class. I started off the lesson with, “Who remembers their first day of school?” I wasn’t expecting the response I got. The first student to put up her hand said, “Yes, I ran away because my teacher was black.” That in its turn led to a babble of racist comments. I stopped it quick smart by turning on the worst offenders, all from the British Isles, getting indignant “Heys!”.

 “Whingeing Poms!” to the English boy. “Stupid Irish!” to the Irish-born offender. Another child, Welsh in background, said, “Well, at least nobody ever said anything about the Welsh...” I grinned. “Do you want to know what the English said about the Welsh?” She didn’t. So, that little scene from Mockingbird ended up with quite an interesting discussion about racism, after the racist sneers were over, though unrelated to the passage; a teacher has to grab any opportunity for a lesson, even if it doesn’t relate to the original lesson plan. I should add that they never did that again and we got on fine.

Lord Of The Rings has a number of characters I would love to know in person. Sam the gardener and cook takes ordinary, simple activities and makes them special. Who can forget his offering to make fish and chips for Gollum? Turning a newly-caught rabbit into a gourmet feast with a few simple herbs? Healing the Shire with his planting after the War of the Ring?

I think if I had read the book as a child I would have wanted to be Éowyn. In some ways, I still do, though if I had been Éowyn as an adult, I probably would have dropped the crush on Aragorn a lot earlier. I might have been disappointed, as a child, by her giving up the warrior thing to become a healer, but nowadays I think, “Hey, she killed the Witch King of Angmar! What could she do to top that? And when the war is over, what better way is there than to heal?” Even her husband, Faramir, never really wanted to fight, he did it because it was the only way to protect his people. He was a historian by preference. (And also a favourite character of mine!)

In Harry Potter, I do admire Hermione, without whom, let’s face it, the wizarding world would probably have lost its Chosen One very early!

But I relate to Ron. He is the truly Non Chosen one who  represents - Us! He is the Xander of the HP series. He does get his moment of glory in the first book, playing the deadly chess game in the underground chamber leading to the Philosopher’s Stone. Mostly, though, he is just there while Harry and Hermione get on with things, being, mostly, the comic relief. That would be me if I was in that world. He is very much an Everyman.

There are plenty more, but I’ll finish with a more recent character I’m fond of, Cath from Rainbow Rowell’s YA novel Fangirl. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction and what little I do read is children’s or YA. This is one of them. Cath is a media fan writer, as I used to be. She is writing under a pen name on line, as most fan writers do these days, and, unlike in my day, is read by thousands of people. Cath is working on a novel she must finish before it becomes just “alternative universe” when last book of the original series comes out. At the same time, she has all the problems of a kid starting university and worries about her father who seriously needs looking after! And Cath can write, not just fan fiction. I liked the fact that the author never sent her up for writing this sort of stuff. In fact,
I believe that people are already writing Fangirl fan fiction and Rainbow Rowell is delighted. And I am very fond of Cath!

Do you have any characters you relate to? 


Maria Behar said...

AWESOME post, Sue!! I greatly enjoyed reading it!! :) :)

Like you, I have never really acted like any favorite characters.

We both like, and can relate to, some of the same characters, such as Jo in "Little Women", and Scout Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird". They are both gutsy females, and they're both readers, which, of course, makes them even more appealing to bookworms like us! :)

I must say that was a brilliant way of handling the racist comments by your students. You made them feel what it would be like to be targeted that way. I wish I had been in that class! Lol.

I should have mentioned Ewowyn....i really liked and admired her! But I guess I felt more akin to Hermione, from the HP series. Again, it was the bookish aspect of this character who made me like her so much! And, of course, she, too, is a gutsy female!

Thanks for sharing!! Thanks as well for commenting on my own BBH post!! <3 <3 :) :) Sorry for the late comment back.... :(

Sue Bursztynski said...

As a matter of fact, once that was settled, they became my favourite class. I liked them better than a more academic class I taught who were less easy to get on with. They were my “Sweathogs”(reference to the comedy show “Welcome Back, Kotter” with a young John Travolta as a student). I remember one of those snooty kids in the other class asking, “Are they awful, Miss?” and I replied that, no, I liked that class.