another male character to consider

If you’ve read Stephen King’s The Green Mile (or seen the movie) no doubt you were struck by the character of John Cofee, the 6’8″, 300 pound gentle soul who had a gift for healing, but was unsuited for life in the South in 1932. I’ve been listening to this book on tape, having seen it at the library, and while I’m not crazy about the narrator in general, I do like the way he reads John Cofee. This character feels very real to me and very tragic, so much so that all my protective and maternal instincts coming roaring to the forefront.

I’ve been thinking about this man and what makes him so real for me, and I haven’t yet been able to figure it out. He is, clearly, a bit other-worldly. The workings of everyday life are usually beyond him, but he sees very clearly when it comes to the hearts and minds of the people nearby. He seems to have no memory of his own childhood, his family, or his origins, and no way to articulate how he came by the gift that has isolated him from the world.

I think of my own characters, Robbie is a very little like this particular John, in that he has a generous heart and is unable to function very well in the wider world; that’s where the similarity ends. But I do write a lot of male characters who are isolated to some degree, by choice or fate. No doubt a Freudian would find something interesting in this, but at the moment the meaning escapes me.

3 Replies to “another male character to consider”

  1. Hi Sara,

    First of all, let me say a belated thank you for taking so much time to answer my queries. I have been abroad (no, I didn’t go under the scalpel) for quite some time, and have been unable to write before now, but that doesn’t subtract anything from my gratefulness. Also, I’ve been reading the discussion about heroes with great interest. My own personal favorite is Commander Vimes of the City Watch, Ankh-Morpork, a sober drunk with a great deal of pent-up anger inside, who hates politicians and other criminals with a vengance, but who is fiercely loyal to his men and to his wife. I don’t know if he’s particularly fond of dogs, but he can’t stand werewolves… *grin*
    Anyway, I thought it’d be interesting to hear your views on what makes for an interesting female character/heroine as well: are the attributes the same, or are there differences, and if so, what are they?


  2. Welcome back, and tell me, where exactly do I find this Inspector Vimes?

    Glad the answers were of some interest. Good questions.

  3. Sir Samuel is to be found in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, a series of books that are supposedly fantasy, but contain a wealth of social commentary, insightfulness and irony. And humour. By the truck-load. Can you tell I like the guy? He also has a wonderful female character, a 70-year old witch called Granny Weatherwax, who shares quite a few characteristics with Vimes, hence my question. Are there qualites that HAVE to go into the making of an interesting “hero”, regardless of sex, and are other qualities only needed/appreciated in either sex? And if so, what are they?



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