An Abundance of Average

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"Q. Where do you get your ideas?
A. I have no idea. I really don't. All I know is that my books all start with a person. (Alaska started with Alaska; Katherines started with Hassan.) " (Green)

After reading An Abundance of Katherines, I thought it was interesting in his interview that Green said he didn't know where he got his ideas from. I think on one part of his website it said that he did base all the Katherines off of having many girlfriends, but his main characters seemed to have developed in a very round about way. For example, Green said this book began with the creation of Hassan. Could Colin have been possibly built around Hassan, as in filling in everything Hassan wasn't? I think by learning this key to the book's creation, I can day that Green created Hassan first with the intention of creating him so readers could have a character that was flawed, yet realistic and able to relate to. Colin I think was created with the intention of showing his readers how you have to interact with the world around you and can't become completely lost in textbooks or other material objects. I think with these two characters Green intended to show his audience how even though someone may not become the next president or find the cure for cancer doesn't mean they should stop living the "average" life that they are meant to live.

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7 Comments

Derek Tickle said:

Katie, you ask a very good question. It seems that Colin is everything that a boy, usually, wants while growing up. That is a girlfriend! I don't necessarily agree with each girlfriend having the name Katherine, but it seems as thought he is everything that Hasson was not.

Here some food for thought. Remember when we read James Joyce's "Araby" and the narrator wants to get Mangan's sister a gift from the bizarre. While he states something similar to what you have said about not always studying or focusing on the books. He said that it was "secondary" and his goal was getting the gift for Mangan's sister. So, does the narrator in "Araby" represent one aspect of Colin?

I think that Colin was living more than an average live because he had a girlfriend every year. Some may say that he was lucky, but I think that it was provided him with mental stability and self-confidence.

Good Blog, Katie!

Greta Carroll said:

That is an interesting observation, Katie. I never really thought about that. But I think it is very possible that Colin is meant to fill in all the parts that Hassan lacks. After all, Hassan is a goof ball who likes to goof around and not taking anything seriously. Meanwhile, Colin is working hard and trying to figure everything out in a very serious manner. The two are almost polar-opposites. Then we have Lindsey, I’d say Lindsey is just as major a character as Hassan, Green doesn’t even mention where she fits into his creation of the book. I suppose it goes back to that mimetic idea that the characters to some degree control the creation of the story. Green might not have intended the other characters to come along except for Hassan, but they came about anyway.

These three different main characters also ensure that the reader will identify with at least one of them. Teens that have a problem identifying with one of them, still have two other characters to relate to.

Also, it’s interesting that Green is able to use so many unrealistic ideas, like Colin being a child prodigy, the factory making tampon strings, etc and yet, despite all this unrealistic parts, still make the characters seem very realistic to the reader. Why do you think that is?

Angela Palumbo said:

Greta- Are the characters unrealistic or are they just not-average? Yes, the tampon string factory is absurd, but they have to come from somewhere. Who's to say that there is not a string factory somewhere? Even though you may not run across string factories every day (or even yearly) doesn't necessarily, in my opinion, make it unrealistic. It just seems abnormal.

Derek- I honestly did not even consider relating the two stories. I can see a slight parallel, however, I feel like I'm comparing apples to oranges. Joyce's lit seems like a completely different animal to me because his technique is so average. But, after I have said I won't compare them I will preceed to do just the opposite. I can see how both of them have that epiphany moment and strive for nice things.

Katie- It baffles me that Green built his book around not-the-main-character. As everyone else said, they balance each other out really well. Colin is the stranger character out of the two, but he's still real to me. I actually know people like Colin so his character isn't too out there for me.

Derek Tickle said:

Angela - Your right that they both have that epiphany, but what are they, both, left with in the end? Is it the idea of love or the idea of having someone in their life? Good response!

Greta Carroll said:

Angela, that’s an interesting point. I suppose what it really comes down to is what you consider to be the definition of “realistic” and “unrealistic.” Personally though, I think that considering the events and circumstances to be unrealistic, yet despite this, the characters being realistic makes the book and the characters more powerful. After all, if an author can make characters relatable to an audience even if they are child prodigies, then doesn’t that prove the power of mimeticism? It makes the important part of the story be the characters themselves, their responses, and their emotions, instead of the frameworks around them.

Derek, I can certainly see what you’re saying. However, I think there is something of a difference. Colin is heartbroken when Katherine 19th breaks up with him; however, he actually knew this girl for most of his life. I think he truly did like and care for her. He was partially using her to fill up his hole where his identity would be, but I do think he actually liked her. The narrator in “Araby” only ever even talked to Mangan’s sister once. The girl he loved was an illusion. He was in love with the idea of being in love, not the girl herself. I think that Colin did love Katherine, but was also using her. So, I think there is a slight difference in the two.

Katie Vann said:

Good point about the slight difference between Colin and Katherine the 19th's relationship and "Araby". I think he did like the last Katherine he dated although he was still using her. I had mixed feelings about this book as well in trying to determine whether it was realistic or unrealistic. Although I have to agree with Greta in that there were several aspects of the book that were unrealistic, I think we have to look past some of the unrealistic surface qualities and look a little more closely at them. Although Colin was considered a child prodigy, which is uncommon, I think the main thing to look at was that he was a misfit. For some reason, he didn't fit easily into his society. So it wasn't really the reason why he was a misfit, but rather just the fact that he was a misfit that made him relatable because that part can be very realistic and relatable.

Angela Palumbo said:

In the end of "Araby," the main character is left with the knowledge that he was being superficial. He learned that there needs to be more to a relationship than an attraction. Colin was left with the realization that people are people, not numbers. People can't be figured out and munipulated as numbers can. Every person is different, no matter what her name is. I believe that is why he was able to deviate from dating Katherines in the end.

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Angela Palumbo on An Abundance of Average: In the end of "Araby," the mai
Katie Vann on An Abundance of Average: Good point about the slight di
Greta Carroll on An Abundance of Average: Angela, that’s an interesting
Derek Tickle on An Abundance of Average: Angela - Your right that they
Angela Palumbo on An Abundance of Average: Greta- Are the characters unre
Greta Carroll on An Abundance of Average: That is an interesting observa
Derek Tickle on An Abundance of Average: Katie, you ask a very good que