Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Empathy for a Character

I think as people and as readers we gravitate towards characters we can identify with. Last night, when I was watching the movie Larry Crowne, I found myself empathizing with Tom Hank's character, Larry Crowne, who is middle aged, divorced, and works in retail.

Am I middle aged? That's debatable. But, I'm not a divorced man and I haven't worked in retail since I was a teenager. But, I have worked in an unforgiving, harsh corporate environment where it didn't matter how hard I worked or how much good I did--there just wasn't any respect for me as a person or my abilities.

So when Larry Crowne is fired for a ridiculous reason at the beginning of the movie from a corporate position he's passionate about, I was hooked.

I loved how this movie showed Larry Crowne prevail over a bad situation and essentially restart his life.

Of course, this movie made me think about writing, and the need for not only characters, but situations a reader can identify with. Thoughts?


  1. You're not middle aged, but you do raise a good point about a reader's ability to relate to characters. I just finished a review of a novel. I couldn't relate to any of the characters or their respective predicaments, but I liked the book. I may be an atypical reader, but the qualities I look for in a book are good writing and interesting situations. If I can relate to the characters, so much the better, but the integrity of the writing is what matters most to me. Humbert Humbert, for example, is not a character I can relate to, but few would dispute that "Lolita" is one of the best books ever written. It's an interesting question.

    1. I have to agree. Good writing and interesting situations is all I really need to hunker down with a story. I guess that's why I enjoy so many different genres in reading and books.