Real Life Foils Lead to Literary Ones

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Maddie’s comments about Sharon Hamilton’s Essential Literary Terms on foil characters, made me consider where authors got the idea to use them and why they are so effective for the audience.  I think that part of the reason why is that foil characters do exist in real life, just as they do in literature.  Frequently characters (or people in real life) even know that the people around them are making them look better or worse.  The most notable example in literature that comes to my mind is from Forever in Blue: Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (yes, I know the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books are not literary masterpieces, but there is still a lot of good stuff in them).  In the book, Carmen finds herself befriended by a girl named Julia, but Julia only wants Carmen around to make her look good.  Anytime Carmen succeeds, Julia gets mad.  We all know there are people out there like that.  We have heard people say “she only wants to friends with so-and-so to make herself look good.”  Authors will use any strategy that will be effective with their audience to get their point across.  So, why shouldn’t they take a type of people that exist in real life and modify them for literature?    

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