A literary character for the day

 

World Book Day, which is coming up this Thursday 7 March, was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is observed in over one hundred countries globally.

Which is all very commendable but… It can feel like a mixed blessing for parents. I don’t know about other countries, but the usual approach here is for schools to invite children to “come dressed as your favourite book character”. This presents something of an annual headache; one that increases as your offspring grow older.

It was easier when mine were smaller – the usual literary suspects came into play, Cat-in-the-Hat, Alice in Wonderland (by way of Disney…), Pippi Långstrump, Charlie before he won the Chocolate Factory… Or, in a time-pressed panic, there was always that witch costume they wore for Halloween (Winnie the Witch? Roald Dahl’s The Witches?), even a generic “Princess” (of somewhere).

As they get older though, they get more picky:
– I know, the Matilda costume you wore at Brownies.
– No, everyone has seen me in that, and it’s loads too babyish anyhow.
– Your Hermione costume then, the one that cost a fortune for the Gryffindor robe?
– I’ve gone off the books. And there will be millions of Hermiones. Anyway, I wore that for Harry Potter Day…
– Okay, the Princess Leia one that—Ah no, that’s a film. (Though I swear, a lot of the costumes are inspired by the movie versions of the books in any case).

Finally agreed: black leggings, black turtle neck, boots and (faux) leather jacket, a braid to the side, plus the purchase of a cheap toy bow and arrow and a Mockingjay badge courtesy of Mister Bezos’s Emporium of Curiosities and Items You Didn’t Know you Needed, and tah-dah: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.
– But I haven’t read it Mum. It says ‘favourite character’!
– Okay shush, never mind—we’ll watch the film over the weekend…

So who would I be if adults dressed up for World Book Day?

Well, I doubt I’d make the grade as one of the ‘good’ parents found in literature – the angelic Marmee in Little Women, for instance, the morally upright Ma & Pa Ingalls, or the firm-but-fair Weasleys in the above-mentioned Harry Potter series… But never mind: I expect I would take the opportunity to leave my ‘parent persona’ behind for a day in any case.

It’s a challenge to pick a favourite literary character one would choose to become on a permanent basis – because even the most gifted, intelligent, beautiful, adventurous (etc.) of them have complexities, issues, and challenges to overcome – in their backgrounds or in their foretold futures. And some of them live in historical periods one would not wish to swap with – not as a woman, at least.

But just for a short while? Perhaps I would take on the forthright passion of Jo March, the self-possession and quiet dignity of Jane Eyre maybe, or the wit and gusto of Moll Flanders. More contemporary, the literary gifted and (ultimately) independent Lenù in Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend? Or maybe I should take the opportunity to be a man for a few hours?

In the meantime, which literary character would you be for a day?

Image: Comfreak on Pixabay

 

25 thoughts on “A literary character for the day

  1. Easy! Bob Woodward the heroic journalist and leading character in the novel ‘All The President’s Men’……….…. I guess that means I’d dress as a 1970s Robert Redford.

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    1. Changed me mind to Farmer Oak.

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      1. An opportunity to channel 1970s Alan Bates?

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        1. 🙂 Yes, now there’s a thought

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  2. Checked rolled shirt-sleeves, some tan slacks, and a wide tie – sounds cool.

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  3. Just finished,’The Story of the Lost Child’, fourth of Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. She has brilliantly drawn the picture of the emotional tug of war between Lenu and Lila. Lenu is a sturdy character, but her frailties peak through the sturdiness. I like Lila for her evenness. 🙂

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    1. Yes, Lenu is nothing if not an unreliable narrator, and clearly flawed, also contradictory in her feminism, yet because of that more relatable. Lila is more consistent – but I would be intimidated by her savage intelligence and directness in real life. I rather unwisely read all four back to back on holiday last year – unwise simply because the experience was so intense.

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      1. True, Lila is an intimidating presence in Naples, but she persevered the challenges,more willingly without running away from them, while for Lenu, Naples was nothing more than a confining muse for her novel.
        Sorry for digressing from the purpose of your post. It was nice discussing the book with you, Libre. 🙂

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        1. Not at all, the only purpose is to provoke thinking about reading and writing matters.
          And I agree – Lila has more integrity!

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  4. I like Archy McNally, the wealthy hedonistic detective. It’d be fun to be him for a day.

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    1. ooh, had to look that up, thanks for the tip on something new. Detective sounds fun – though you had me at ‘wealthy’ and ‘hedonistic’.

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  5. PennyWise of course. 🙂

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    1. Eesh, that did nothing for my coulrophobia 🙂

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  6. Your writing is always refreshing – In the US we do not have that custom in school but my kids do a lot of book report – my 7th grader needs to read 30 books. My daughter I do not count, she is a book worm – reading 4-5 books at the same time

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    1. Wow, that’s impressive. I think book reports are a good way to learn structuring a piece of writing.

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      1. I agree. But dress will be fun too. At least daughter would have loved it 😊

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  7. It may sound preposterous, but the first name that came to my mind was d’Artagnan. 🙂
    I did take a lot of riding and fencing as a child. (Sort of a 19th century I had)
    Then of course, on a darker note, it could be Edmond Dantés, the Count of Monte-Cristo. 🙂

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    1. Not preposterous in the least, when it comes to imagining oneself as a literary character, it has to be a case of going grand an glamorous or not at all. Maybe not so much TCoMC’s years in prison though.

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  8. hmmm, like you said, as you grow older, it gets harder to choose. I think my eldest would like the hunger games – because it’s bloody and violent, probably – my daughter would go with a princess theme…. someone from Frozen, and yeah, i know, it’s a movie. My youngest would go for spider man or iron man – does comic book work?
    As for me, again, hard to choose. But if i was to choose from a historical, i’d definitely go as a man….

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    1. Me too – partly because it would genuinely be interesting to try out a different gender identity, partly for the obvious reasons of, er – millennia of male dominance.

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  9. I used this same image for a post about reading. It is perfect!

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    1. It’s great isn’t it, that dream-like quality.

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  10. I don’t know who I’d be, either. However, what schools are doing now in order to “engage” the kids is just making everyone more miserable. The parents need to spend more time, energy and money, and the kids still think it’s a waste of time.

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    1. I think they like it when they’re really little because it’s dress up, but are they making the connection with reading? They might be better bringing in or choosing from the library a book they like and thinking about why or sharing it.

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