Friday, March 30, 2012

Secondary Characters

Yes, I’m still reading “Les Miserables” in French but I am getting very close to the end. It’s been quite a nice journey so far. I expect that I will be very sad when I am done too. One of the aspects of the novel that I’ve enjoyed immensely are the descriptions of some of the secondary characters.

Hugo does an amazing job with characterization in general (and a bunch of other techniques too) but he’s particularly plucked at my heart with his penchant for plucky descriptions of two secondary characters. It got me wondering what was the point of having these two characters in the novel in the first place.

There was a basic philosophy to the novel where he would treat the degradation of man by the proletariat, the atrophy of infants by night and the decline of women due to hunger so I understand that these two characters who were children contributed to that purpose. The strange thing is that both of these characters seem unaffected by the night. They seem to do just fine by day and by night even if they are poor. They get by.

But there is more to them that just that. They are characters that we root for and we want them to come out on top. They do the right thing without probably even being aware that it’s the right thing. They also show up their parents by being beacons of goodness, while their parents frankly suck.

I suppose that I don’t really need to have an answer to why they are in the novel. I like them a lot and wish there was more of them throughout the novel. But I believe that if they appeared more often, they might annoy me. So yet again Mr. Hugo knows how to pace himself and his story to make it pleasant for the reader.

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