Friday, October 30, 2009

I have things to say

Most of them are nonsensical.

Most of them have to do with books.

Most of them resulted from the X-Large timmie's coffee i had at work tonight. May I say that the buzz has been productive! I only got off shift an hour ago and I've cleaned my room, gotten my laundry going, changed my sheets, and am now blogging. Hurrah!

Ok so, thoughts:

I have just finished reading Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens) for the second time. That being said, I skipped all the parts about people who weren't Oliver. I reserve the right to skip through books.

This made me think about how different writers use their peripheral characters.

Dickens is a happy ending kinda of guy. Mostly. He likes everyone to be happy except for one person who dies. In "The Old Curiosity Shop" 2 people died, but I think we can all agree that was the only plausible ending. In the "Tale of Two Cities", Sydney Carton gets offed so that everyone else can have a happy ending. In this one, it was just this random kid that Oliver knew from his childhood and I honestly believe that he was inserted to make the reader cry, so that the book wasn't too over-the-top-ly perfect. Also, all the little street rat guys that Oliver meets just confuse me. I can never remember who is who, except the Artful Dodger, because that is an awesome name. Anyway, I think that the peripheral characters are kind of like story props for Dickens. "I want to make them sad a little too so they won't realize this is a rags-to-riches stor that has been done like 100000 times before. I could have the kid die.... No, no. That would be TOO sad, and I've done that once before anyway. Ooh, what if his only childhood friend dies? But I don't have space in the plot for a bff. Ok, well, he can say nice things to Ollie as they separate and then when lil' Twist goes back to the hometown for the finale, he will search for his best friend Dick (just like me!) and find out the poor kid died! Perfect!"
It's not that I think Dickens is silly or anything, it's just that one thing that bothered me.

All that being said, Dickens is one cheeky little snot. Hates doctors and magistrates and rich people and foster parents and the government and basically EVERYONE except for the ones who live lives of piety in crime filled slums. He's very sarcastic about it all, and it makes me giggle.

Now, I want to compare this to Victor Hugo. If Dickens is sarcastic, Hugo is morose. He uses his supporting characters as target practice. He starts with the least important ones and works up to the lead characters and just picks them off with gallows, guillotines, cliffs, fights, illness, starvation, etc. Thoroughly depressing. Somehow, though, it doesn't feel like he puts those characters in to get an emotional reaction. His writing style makes a reader feel like those people, although they weren't central to the book's plot, they were central to a plot of a different story, and just happened to get squished by this other story. I think the main difference here is that Hugo fattens up his characters before butchering them. They seem more like actual characters and people and you really do mourn their loss because many times they're real. Real in the sense that throughout the course of history there have been many people who had this very thing happen to them. Hugo will write a peripheral character who did not exist, but represents a body of people who lived under similar circumstances. The characters' needs, pains, wishes, losses, and deaths are sad because of the thousands that they represent. I want to give the example of the random old man in the book "Les Miserables". He's starving to death because he has no pension, and his son won't speak to him. He's too proud to beg and he's too old to work. He's selling off all his possessions one by one to buy the food he needs to live just one more day. Finally, all he has left is one book: his favourite. He goes out in the morning to sell it, knowing that the meal he buys will be the last meal he will eat. He doesn't actually die of starvation, though! Happy news, eh? He's shot instead :P. Thanks for the happy ending, Hugo.

Sometimes I think that Hugo could let a few more of them live, you know? Like in the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, did you reallly reeeeealllly have to kill Esmerelda's mother too? Honestly, you got all the main characters. Sheesh.

Anyway, I don't know whether I prefer having peripheral characters made for emotional manipulation or social caricature. I think I might prefer the Hugo approach. I need to read more of both him and Dickens before being certain.

Here are some other thoughts:

My friend is moving away from Elmira, and I don't know what I shall doooooo! She's moving to a pretty awesome place though. Her uncle has thes awesome old house in K-town and she's got this adorable little room with slanty ceilings and crawlspaces! I love it!

I've also figured out what exactly the plan is for when I move back to Guelph and I'm really pumped about it!!! Woooo!!!!

And my friend from camp is returning from New York (state) so we're going to hang out with him on Sunday!

And tomorrow is HALLOWEEN!!!!

HALLOWEEN + Schildroth + Living Arrangements + Addea's new place + my IKEA party + coffee = A Very Happy Becca.

I love you all. May something awesome happen to you today!

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