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Dying Lit & Those Lying Within

vlopez's picture

I was really intrigued by the importance a lot of people gave to whether or not the character had died.  I guess I've never really thought about it because, to me, in order for a character to die the story has to die as well.  Because as long as the story exists, so will the character.  Therefore, I was surprised and slightly amused to see how there were so many 'emotional connections' or stories about the character's death. 

Another thing that popped into my mind during Tuesday's class was the question if the same story could evolve?  I believe they can evolve because people evolve; therefore, people's perception of the story changes over time.  It doesn't have to be different people's perception, but it could also be the same person reading the same book and having a different outlook on the book after a period of time.  A good example of this is "Le Petit Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which can be read at a young age and at an older age and two completely different meanings will be taken from it.  It's a book that molds itself to 'you'. 

Lastly, I don't know how I feel about Powers' declaration that film is literature's successor.  I think films are great and they're very educational, fascinating, and entertaining.  But they're not the same as reading a book.  I have yet to find a film that surpasses the book it's based on. 


hope's picture

To me whether or not Thassa

To me whether or not Thassa dies has a slightly different significance than just being a part of the plot or mattering emotionally to the readers.  Thassa reperesents an idea--the idea that a person can be and remain happy throughout all the unpleasantness of life.  If she lives, then that idea still has a chance, she could recover from her momentary lapse and be happy again. But if she actually kills herself, the idea is killed, and the world wins.

katlittrell's picture

Why shouldn't a character's death be important?

Fictional characters can die.

I think that it doesn't matter to the character whether the book itself is destroyed: that would be the death of the book.

I'll use "Othello" as an example. Every time "Othello" is performed (or read), Othello, Desdemona (and many supporting characters) die. When the play is restarted, they are alive again, but that doesn't reduce the significance of their death.

Just because they are fictional, doesn't mean they can't die. The fact that a character exists does not negate the fact that s/he dies.

Death is emotional, significant symbolically and generally an important plot point. Why shouldn't we fixate on whether or not Thassa died? It changes our reading of the ending, the meaning of the ending, and the meaning of several parts of the book, particularly Tonia Schiff's.

On a slightly different tangent, perhaps the reason that the emotional connections to this particular character's death could be taken as amusing is because it appears that Powers doesn't particularly want his readers to emotionally connect to his characters. Though, I have to ask, what's the point of fiction if there is no emotional connection? Who wants to read and re-read and fall in love with a novel which has no desire to engender an emotional connection in its readers?

vlopez's picture

connection :)

I see your point on how Death can be used as a symbolical element in a novel, story, play... whatever.  But I guess my reasoning behind 'stories dying if the characters die' is that to me the characters are one of the most important aspects of the story, if not THE most important.  Because the plot or the message behind the plot may be of great importance, but it is hard to convey this to the reader without the use of characters.  This is what I mean to say, which I guess goes somewhat along with your tangent.  I share the same confusion as you: no connection, no desire to re-read.  Connection is necessary, you need to engage the reader.  And admittedly, I did not feel engaged by this novel at all; at parts I even wanted to just stop and move on.

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