Wherein Jack Begins Picking Characters Apart
I've been trying to decide who I would start with. I have a long list of characters I love, but I think a good place to start is with some of my all time favourites. So, I will be doing The Pevences for my first post. (I know, I spelled their name wrong. Naughty me.)
I'm one of those people who probably read too much into the Narnia books. I like digging into them and seeing what I believe Lewis meant us to see. I had a friend once who picked the entire series apart with me over long, extended emails. She's the one who made me see a lot of what I think is often over looked.
Now, I believe what makes a story especially good is the characters. Whether they are in-depth characters or ones we have to study to get. (I think Howl might fit into the study category.)
Anyone who has read the Narnia books knows none of the characters fit the in-depth description. A lot might feel missing. There is not a lot of time wasted on what the characters are like. But instead, we are shown them, and the rest is left to imagination.
Starting with Peter. On the surface he's a typical brother. (Another thing I like about Lewis, he understood kids.) He looses his temper, he can be bossy sometimes, and he gets annoyed with his younger siblings. But we also come to see that he never hesitates to fight for those who need him. He cares about his siblings and has a very close bond with Lucy, he looks after her and does his best to protect her. He is honourable - such as when he wouldn't strike Miraz when he was down.
He was a wise king whom the Narnians loved, but I think he still made some mistakes as king. (Hints I picked up in The Horse and His Boy. Though maybe it was just me.)
He was one of the greatest kings to ever rule Narnia, never forgotten. When times were at their worst, he found ways to help. (The Last Battle.) So, even when he came back to this world, he left part of himself in Narnia. It was always his true home, where he belonged.
Susan. Being the oldest girl, she likely felt responsible for everyone else. Maybe even more so when Peter would loose his temper or do something without thinking it through completely. (Again, something I felt was more implied. She sometimes seemed to act like the older sibling, as if she had to be the voice of reason from time to time.)
We know that, later, she became more interested in boys and parties and her looks. (Which we can kind of understand because it was often mentioned that she was a pretty girl. Also, she had grown up in Narnia, a lovely queen whom many wished to marry. That would go to any girl's head.)
Susan was brave, and yet compassionate. Though she got annoyed sometimes, she wanted to help the Narnians as much as Peter. She was the kind of girl who would fight if it meant saving someone else.
Edmund. The boy who fell into temptation, betrayed his siblings, and became one of the greatest heroes in Narnia.
I believe it was Edmund's early betrayal which later helped him become the great man he turned into. In the books it is as if we can see he was envious of Peter. Maybe even of Lucy. The baby of the family everyone clearly adored. He would naturally want his moment in the spot light, and when it led to his siblings and all of Narnia falling in danger it changed him. His betrayal cost Aslan his life. Of course, no one ever told Edmund this, but I think he knew. (Again, in between the line reading throughout the series.)
Later, Edmund fights for Narnia, over and over again. Also, I think his betrayal draws him much closer to Lucy. When Peter and Susan weren't able to return to Narnia it was Edmund who became the oldest sibling. It was he who looked after Lucy and made sure she was always safe.
Lucy. The youngest, and the one who I think is the most misunderstood.
Many seem to think Lucy is too good, perfect, and therefore annoying. Agreed that perfect characters are annoying, but I think Lucy is far from it.
She does loose her temper, she talks back to Aslan, she has her doubts and fears. But what makes her seem perfect is that she knew Aslan better than the others. She trusted him and was closer to him. And while all the others, aside from Susan, left part of themselves in Narnia, I think Lucy left all of herself. Even when she left at the end of Dawn Treader, I believe she didn't completely leave. She couldn't. Narnia was her home, more than this world. She belonged there. And more than any other creature or human, I believe she was the closet to Aslan.
I think we all might know some people like this. Some who don't seem to really be a part of this world, even though they've lived here their whole lives. Who already seem to be gone. (Mostly it is people who have spent most of their lives ill. They know they don't belong here and want to go home where they will be well. This is what I believe Lucy was. She stayed in our world because Aslan sent her back, but she was always waiting for the day she could return to Narnia.)
I know there is a lot of debate over the Narnia books. That they are lacking in character development and Lewis should have put more into them. He and Tolkien got into a disagreement over them, in fact, and I think it hurt part of their friendship.
But I don't think books or characters all need to be alike. I don't think every book has to have in-depth characters. I like having both, because both ways make us think, if we are willing to try it. The characters which seem flatter - and usually these seem to be in British books, I point out J.K. Rowling for example - take more thought than the others. Books should be different though, with a vast array of characters. Or else reading would get boring very fast.
What about all of you? Do you have a favourite "flat" character?
Don't forget, this is all part of my book release party. I will be giving away a free copy of my newest book, A Stretch of Loyalty. If you wish to enter, you can write a character post on your own blog and leave the link on mine. I will put your name in a hat and hold the drawing on the 14th of June.
Quote is from Psych, because I like using any and all Mexican Lassie quotes I could find.