The story III … what the characters tell us
So we will study our story in our attempt to find the author. We begin with the characters. Characters are usually easy to spot. They are all around us. In fact, we are one of them. But are we an important character? Perhaps we are heroes or might we even be villains? Or worse, are we simply extras that just exist to make the story seem more believable? Perhaps we are somewhere in between. So who is the hero1? The villain? If we could answer those questions perhaps the story would be understandable. There is obviously good in our story. And the hero must be “good”, right? I suppose the hero could be evil, but that seems to go against our core, our very nature.
Let’s assume we are the hero. That is the character we would like to be, correct? The character upon whom the triumph of good versus evil depends. The character that always comes through when the night is darkest, when evil seems to be on the verge of victory. It would seem that if we are the main character we would have some grand and glorious purpose. Our character would be capable of literally changing the world forever. Does that seem like you? Me? Probably not. But we do desire to play the hero do we not?
But if not us, then who is the hero of our story? There seems to be many powerful characters in our story that could fill that role. But at the same time, even the most powerful characters have serious flaws that would seem to make them unsuited to the part. Of course, all heroes have flaws, if not within themselves then in their place in the story, but the characters we experience tend to look more like villains that heroes. Even those that appear heroic at a point tend to eventually show their darker and self-serving inclinations. But there must be a hero, right? All stories have heros. We are left wondering who it could be.
Alas, maybe we are only extras. For many, our very soul cries out against the possibility. However, for others, it seems all too possible, no probable. For regardless of our position, it is all to easy to see that if we do nothing the world goes on as if it did not need us. Maybe we are not the main character, but it would be nice to think that we are more than extras. That we do have some purpose, even if we are not the main character.
Perhaps, if we are not the hero, we are part of the hero’s inner circle, members of the Knights of the Round Table or the Fellowship of the Ring. Characters upon whom the hero depends. Characters who are willing ride with the hero into hell itself if necessary. Or perhaps we are the hero’s beloved. The one for whom the hero would risk all in a pursuit of true, selfless love. Unfortunately, we have no clarity. We assume we are on the side of good, but is that true? No, we dare not even consider the possibility.
So, what have we learned? Although we live in our story, we have no idea who the characters are. Who is the hero? The villain? What part do we play? Surely this is a sad state. More importantly, we have made no gain towards our knowledge of the author. Where do we go next? Perhaps understanding the plot will reveal the author.
1 We use the term hero to refer to the principal character in our story, male or female, who has heroic qualities, performs heroic acts, and is regarded as the ideal person.