Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
The Standards of
Unique Character Names
John Doe B is incomparable to John Doe A.
Ever come across a character that shares a common name but is more-or-less different than their twinsie in attributes? Is it even possible to read with an open mind because of these factors? The short answer ought to be yes but how true is it in action?
Let’s take a step back for a moment:
So you’re reading this book about characters named Harry, Hermione, and Ronald, and you find yourself enjoying the exposition and the narrative and basically everything about it. (What is a Hermione anyways?) And then you’re crying while being filled with joy and then you realise you’re feeling the full range of feels seven thousand times over again as the characters grow up and evolve, and you know that all things must come to an end… (man, what a mouthful)
…but then a few months down the road, you pick up a different book and you seem to come across another Harry, or Hermione, or a Ronald. Now…do you feel a burdensome apprehension because you’re reminded of the previous character(s) or are you able to buy into the novel without reservation? Assuming these new characters (or clones if you will) exist in their own unique story and world, what are the chances of you drawing comparisons for the Harry and the Ronald in particular? How about Hermione?
Despite the possibility of being reminded of past Harry’s and Ronald’s, it’s the unique names that will most often catch your eye and solidify themselves as the one and only—almost as if these namesakes are legalized, copyrighted, and patent-pended as irreplaceable characters to their creators. Of course, this is under the assumption that the “original characters” have been fully explored and fleshed out in a way where they grow into this absolute position. It’s names like Hermione, like Katniss and Peeta, like Huck (Huckleberry), Thorin– that truly beg the question of whether or not there can be characters of the same name who can live up to (or surpass) their predecessors.
But should these new twins-in-name-only have to be either?
Or do we have the obligation as readers to read into each and every new book as if it’s the first one we have ever read; going into the text as blank slate if you will?
I obviously don’t have the answer to either (or anything for that matter) but you tell me—
1) What are the chances that you’ll start drawing comparisons based on names alone? Have you ever done it before for the regular or generic names? Or is it just a unique name predicament?
2) How do you discern what becomes unique? Do you have names that you’ve basically written off as “unique” and a name that cannot be easily out-done or replaced (for now at least)?
3) From a character standpoint only, and assuming they share the same name: what do you think about the possibility of going into new reads with an open mind without the thought of previous characters influencing how you feel about these new characters? Can it be done or is it just in human nature to categorize and create immediate judgments?
My mind is so weird. And I don’t even think I made my point that well but here you go…another questionably ranty rant!