Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Words: Character Connections

It will never cease to amaze me how much of an impact fictional people can have on my life. Perhaps it's the result of being a naturally shy person who took to reading at a very young age. I had trouble reaching out to people, scared of rejection, and so my closest companions were the characters in the books I read.

As far as I'm concerned, books are the closest a mere mortal like me will ever come to being a Time Lord like in Doctor Who. The Doctor told Amy Pond in their very first episode together, "So, all of time and space. Everything that every happened or ever will. Where do you want to start?" The same could be said when you walk into a book store or library - imagination is endless, and any book could take you anywhere. And characters are like companions as we get to see it all through their eyes, always there when we need them.

But eventually, every character's arc comes to an end. While they will always be in the pages or on the screen for when we need them, their story stops. A few weeks ago, I watched as my two favorite Doctor Who companions - Amy Pond and Rory Williams - appeared in their final episode with my favorite Doctor. I started watching the show when these three started on it, then went back and caught up on previous seasons. I was introduced to the Whovian universe through their eyes. But now these two actors are moving on to other things, so their characters have said goodbye. And I ache over it. I feel as if I've lost two friends. It's hardly the first time I've felt this way. When the final Harry Potter book came out and I finished reading it less than 24 hours later, it was like there was a void. At least in these cases, I was mostly okay with how things were wrapped up both times, but that element of sadness is still there.

And then I feel silly. I mean, these are Characters. In Fiction. As in, not real. Made up. Imaginary. John Green makes the point in The Fault in Our Stars: "We are speaking of a novel, dear child, not some historical enterprise...They're fictions...Nothing happens to them... But to be perfectly frank, this childish idea that the author of a novel has some special insight into the characters in the's ridiculous. That novel was composed of scratches on a page, dear. The characters inhabiting it have no life outside of those scratches. What happened to them? They all ceased to exist the moment the novel ended."

It makes sense. The rational part of me knows this. But the emotional, not so much (which is quite something considering the emotional attachment I felt to Green's characters in that book). We as people build emotional connections where and when we can, and crazy as it may be, I miss them and mourn the end of a book or a series or a story arc. Because to me, Albus Dumbledore, another amazing fictitious man, put it best: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" Of course these people never really walked the earth or traveled the universe in a TARDIS. But that doesn't mean the story doesn't matter or that it had any less of an effect or my feelings any less real.

So here's to the characters who have that amazing power to make us suspend the rules of reality, who make us feel and despite the fact they are fiction, still manage to be the best friends. And a huge thanks to the writers who share them with the world (and the actors who bring them to life). I can't speak for others, but I know I appreciate it. They all gave and give this shy girl a bit of hope.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

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