This week I took the first steps to overcoming a fear of mine. I won't go into details what that fear is, but it got me thinking about Fear in books. Like death (I wrote a post about it), fear is a great way to propel a character into a certain direction. It also helps to bring in curve balls to a story that otherwise wouldn't happen. Then there's the numerous obstacles fear can present for a character, either something they won't do because of it or something they will do to hide from it. Let's take a look at some books.
Gone by Lisa McMann, from the Wake trilogy.
Janie's fear is understandable. Her ability weakening her with every dream and there is nothing she can do about it. Until she realizes, that maybe there is. She could run, she could leave everything and everyone behind and run. But that means running from love as well, but isn't that what's best for Cabel. Fear is funny like that. Sometimes, it makes you think that the thing you're running from is really for the benefit of someone else. It isn't until Janie gets all the facts that she realizes, that while fear is understandable, running from it is not. She realizes that facing it head on is the best way to live her life.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins from The Hunger Games trilogy.
The Hunger Games trilogy has no shortage of fear. After all, it's the fear of Prim dying in the arena that propels Katniss to volunteer in her place. However, the fear I want to talk about here is the one that finds Katniss running after she realizes she is heading back to the Games. It's an instinct, a reaction, something she finds herself doing before she even realizes it's happening. Fear is like that. One minute, it takes over your senses, making you do things you normally wouldn't do. It isn't until Katniss calms down and has time to think that she drags herself off the basement floor and comes to the only understanding she can muster: this time, it isn't about her.
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.
Is it fear that drives John Smith to move from place to place to hide from the Mogadorians or is it survival? That is the question that plagues even the best of us. Sometimes, it takes courage to run. Sometimes, it takes courage to fight another day. But, how do you distinguish between what is courage and what is fear? In the end, John fights. In the end, his motivation to survive overcomes his fear of dying. Fear can, in some cases, be a good thing. What you need to remember about fear is not to let it control you. In the best circumstances, we can use fear to help up. This is what John does.
Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of my aunt's death. My parents went to Arlington Cemetery to pay her a visit, placing flowers on her grave as well as plastic butterflies (they were her favorite). Thinking about her and the life she lived even though it was cut short by cancer got me thinking about death in books. I find it to be a very popular theme as well as plot turner. Death has a way of propelling a character towards the desired path of a story.
Aside from the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, I find that characters usually go down two paths after experiencing death or loss. 1) The character gains strength from it, using the death to push them towards resolving their conflicts or 2) The character is forever changed by it, never ending the same way they began and death becomes the reason they are who they are. Let's look at two examples.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowlings would be the first to tell you that the main theme in Harry Potter is death. The series starts just after the death of Harry's parents and ends with that of Voldemort's. In fact, it's through the death of Harry's mother that Harry survived the attack on him as a baby. Her willingness to die in order to save Harry left a lasting impression: love. It was this that Voldemort couldn't fight.
Throughout the series Harry encounters death and the loss of family and friends: Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, and more. However, through these deaths Harry finds in himself the strength he needs to fight Voldemort. Through the loss of losing those he loved, he finds the courage he needs to do what has to be done and thereby defeating Voldemort once and for all.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
When Cassie dies, Lia not only has to deal with her eating disorder, but with her guilt as well. As the spirit of Cassie haunts her, Lia first falls deeper and deeper into despair by not only continuing counting calories but also by cutting herself. Cassie wants Lia to join her and even though Lia's words say no her actions scream yes, until she finds herself in the same hotel room where Cassie died. The hotel room where Cassie called Lia 33 times and Lia never picked up.
Lia grapples with the death of her friend, first allowing it to consume her, dragging her down, but when she finally falls she realizes that what she wants is to live. Cassie's death propels her to choose life and therefore she starts to take the steps she needs to heal. She starts to become a different person.
Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining ‘Blog’ is a fool’s errand.