Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top Ten 'Inspirational Characters'

And I want to know yours. Please honor me with your thoughts.  Comment below. 

Gogo and Didi.
Mine, for this moment, in no particular order:

1. Estragon and Vladimir, the 'fail better' friends from Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett.  All we really have is the beauty of the way and the goodness of the wayfarers.  And to fail better.  Profoundly imperfect, we're selfish and careless and cruel and funny and beloved.

2.  Pi Patel from Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  The sheer improbability of his survival on the sea is dwarfed by the transcendent grace of his psychological survival afterward.  Story does indeed save his life, making literal what's so often imagined as merely figurative.  If you haven't read this thought provoking tale cover to cover, you simply must.  Then email or comment here and we'll wrangle over what really happened...

3.  Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston.  The precursor to Celie (and many of the other women) in The Color Purple, Janie's the one who journeys forward according to her own lights, despite one bad turn after the next.  And she holds her head high, undaunted by others' opinions of her choices.  A model modern woman, in many ways.

4.  Olivia from Olivia by Ian Falconer.  Jubilant, passionate, artsy, imaginative, willful, talented.

5.   Hagrid from the Harry Potter series.  Loves animals on their own terms.  he's a world expert at his craft yet utterly humble.  Loyal and decent and courageous. 

6.  Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  How could I not include him, after teaching the novel for seven years in a row?  Unflaggingly decent and wise and imperfect and impeccable with his word.  And he earns the admiration of the young, even though he's old.  Actually, he's "The Four Agreements" all wrapped up in one character.  What's not to like?

7.  Horton from Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss.  Like the Lorax, only with listening.  I must continue to practice Horton's skills - to truly hear, and to defend the powerless, the small, the "other" - and with him as exemplar I'm continuously inspired.

Ms. Vinnie.  True heart.
8.  Edna St. Vincent Millay from The Indigo Bunting by Vincent Sheean (out of print) and Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford.  Such different portraits painted of this real-life character - a true free spirit and brilliant poet.  Fearless in life, the way Olivia and Kitten Nell are in pictures. 

9.  Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Passionate, generous, skillful, loyal, funny.

10.  Kitten Nell from Kitten Nell by Dick Bruna.  Everything she did, I wound up doing too.  Ocean voyages, flying, raising chickens and daisies, living with "Indians", swimming with fishes... (no longer in print, and not necessarily recommended, but I'm fairly certain that she seeped into my subconscious quite early and has never left, for good or for ill)

"The Broke and the Bookish" here on blogspot.com offers a "meme" question or prompt like this every Tuesday, and they've posted future topics through March 2011, so if you've got a blog and love to read, you might give their Tuesday Top Ten's a try.

Better yet, though:  Comment below for us all.

MFB, with thanks to Gogo and Didi,


Anne Bennett said...

Pi Patel, what a good idea. I completely forgot to add any Harry Potter characters to my list.

My Head is Full of Books

Anne Bennett said...

Hey, I got your note over at my blog. Of course I'd love to stay in touch. Where do you teach? Is your 9th grade in the high school or in a Junior high? I'm in the Bethel SD which is South of Puyallup, where I live.

If you want some book recommendations I have lots of lists on my blog (I am a list maker for sure, so take a look around at some of my older posts.

I just became a follower here on your blog. Did you follower me? That is the easiest way to get alerts when a new blog of interest comes in.

My Head is Full of Books

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

My youngest child IS Olivia! :)

Andrea said...

Great choices! I love that you have Janie from Their Eyes Were Watching God. She is a great character from an amazing book.

Reading Lark's Top 10

Teacher/Learner said...

Interesting list! Thanks for popping by my blog & following. Am following you back :)

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