Friday, November 14, 2008

Memorable Characters . . . Lasting Impressions . . .

I recently finished a book I already know I'm bound to read again, Blues Dancing by Diane McKinney-Whetstone. I'm a late convert to Ms. McKinney-Whetstone's work, but with two books down and another one waiting for me on my shelves, I'm well on my way to becoming one of her biggest fans. Her characters in Blues Dancing were so well-drawn and full of life, I haven't been able to stop thinking about them.

Plot driven, action-packed, drama-filled stories are fine and dandy, but there's nothing I love more than a truly memorable character, a character capable of occupying a place deep within the recesses of my gray matter-- days, months and years after our original encounter. The following list (in no particular order, mind you) contains some of my all-time favorites. I hope it will inspire you to think about and share some of yours.

1) Verdi Mae & Johnson (the couple from Diane McKinny-Whetstone's Blues Dancing whose jones for heroin alters their lives as well as their love for one another)

2) Sula (the delightfully evil female protagonist from Toni Morrison's novel by the same title)

3) Blue Hamilton ( the brother with the blue eyes from Pearl Cleage's Some Things I Never Thought I'd Do. A good friend and I are still debating the significance/symbolism of those blue eyes, LOL)

4) Laz (the lovable, wool hat-wearing character from Suzan-Lori Parks' Getting Mother's Body)

5) Sophia (from Alice Walker's The Color Purple. My apologies to all of you Miss Celie and Shug Avery fans. Sophia's stubborn defiance wins me over every time.

6) Easy & Mouse (the unlikely partners from Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins mystery series)

7) Socrates Fortlow (from Walter Mosley's thought-provoking, Always Out Numbered, Always Out Gunned)

8) Pecola Breedlove (the little girl who longed for blue eyes in Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye)

9) Grant Wiggins (aka "The School Teacher") & Jefferson (the reluctant teacher and student from Ernest Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying. Just thinking about them makes me tear up)

10) Walter Lee (from Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun. I've long identified with Walter Lee's desparate sense of longing. Sorry P-Diddy, but Sidney Poitier's portrayal of Walter L. in the original screenplay won't ever be topped)

11) Hazel (the running little girl from Toni Cade Bambara's short story, "Raymond's Run")

Okay, your turn. What characters have made a lasting impression on you?


Keith said...

I totally agree with #2, #6, #7 and # 10. I'd add Amir and Hassan from "The Kite Runner" and Fearles Jones.

Lori said...

I see we have similar tastes in books (smile). I've heard wonderful things about THE KITE RUNNER, but I haven't read it or seen the movie.

Don't you just love the names Walter Mosely bestows upon his characters? Fearless Jones, Mouse, Easy, Socrates Fortlow . . . In part, I think that's what helps make them memorable.