Emotionally scarred?

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" After all, it's easier to introduce characters without imperfections. You give a guy a limp in Chapter 2, he can't go sprinting after the train in Chapter 24. So if a writer brings up a physical problem or handicap or deficiency, he probably means something by it."

This chapter seemed like common knowledge at first. I've heard this before and the first couple of examples weren't putting the peices together for me. However, when Foster brought up the example about Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," things started to sink in. He talks about Jake Barnes and his disability. It's different than most in that he lost his male reproductive organ. This obviously changes the whole view that we as readers are seeing. First of all, I haven't read the book, but I found myself sympathizing with the Barnes because I am also a male. Being able to sympathize is a huge part of a relationship between author and reader.

The other example that I really liked was the one right after it in "Alexandria Quartet," by Lawrence Durrell. Durrel uses disabilities and handicaps in another way. He gave every character in his story something wrong with them whether it be a missing limb, or a glass eye.

"Yet collectively they come to represent something else: everyone, Durrell seems to be saying, is damaged in some way or other, and no matter how careful or fortunate we might seem to be, we don't get through life without being marked by the experience."

He used these imperfections to show that not everyone is perfect and that we all have something wrong with us. I really like this tactic and enjoy learning new interesting facts about literature and creative writing through this book.

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I'm glad to hear that you're continuing to find Foster useful, Andy. It's just one more reminder that if an author puts a detail in a story, it's probably significant, even if it's not part of a complex code that "means" something that's being deliberately obscured as part of a literary game.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy published on April 11, 2006 3:46 PM.

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