Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Character revelation

Two books that I really enjoyed were Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day and Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea - the former more than the latter. In both books, the characters’ character as it were are revealed over the course of the books and since they are in the first person narrative, the personality of the narrator is also revealed. In this sense it was page turning because I enjoyed most the character development that was in these books.

I was expecting something similar from Lionel Shriver’s We Have to Talk About Kevin but was disappointed. The narrator didn’t really come off as someone with a superiority complex - perhaps the voice didn’t work to this effect - it took Kevin to reveal to me that his mom had one in an accusation. I was also expecting some evolution in the personalities of Eva and Kevin but right off the bat they were created as rigid unchanging characters which was disappointing to me only because I was expecting some nuance and gray areas as well as some moral ambiguity in the entire story. I was expecting something like this: Eva who didn’t want to be a mother to Kevin grows to love him while Kevin who was born ‘difficult’ rather than ‘evil’ develops attachment difficulties attaching to someone despite the warmth of the family. Overall, the sense was that all the characters were somehow caricatures.

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