Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Question
amberspyglass
cleolinda
A Formspring question (yes, I do sometimes answer those still, although I have a backlog of 80+ now) that I don't know how to answer:

I don't usually get emotionally involved in fictional stories, but I have been strongly affected by the death of my favorite character. (The story is not Harry Potter, by the way.) How do I move on from this? I am feeling genuinely depressed about it.

I got really upset when Philip Pullman killed a character off in one of his series--but more because it seemed so incredibly senseless, and it was right the red hot second after a relationship had finally come to fruition. I didn't get depressed over it, though--I just refused to read the next book, because I was terrified (as a reader, I mean) what he might do next. I know people got upset over the Harry Potter deaths (MARK, YOU PROBABLY DON'T NEED TO READ THE COMMENTS), but--well, I'd already read the His Dark Materials trilogy Pullman also wrote, and all of these books together convinced me that he had no writerly mercy at all, and I just wasn't ready to put up with what he might do next. So maybe I'll go back and finish that series, I don't know. But it was genuinely I am afraid what he might do next rather than THAT WAS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER, GO TO ALL THE HELLS. So I don't really know how to answer the question of emotional investment. Thoughts?

(Yes, we can include the works of Joss Whedon.)



Site Meter

  • 1
I just read a Garth Nix book that totally disappointed me with the character death at the end, because I wanted a happy ending, dammit. It also made me a little angry because there was some sexuality stuff going on for one of the characters that made me annoyed that the ending for him was death. :( And the other character who died was fairly awesome, and it was the two weenies that lived. Not a winner for me, that book.

Also, the first time I read Little Women, I was upset for a few days over Beth's death. Of course, I was 11 or 12, so that might have figured into it. I read Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Giver around that time, too, and those books gave me dreams that made me wake up crying because they were so bleak. And then we read Where the Red Fern Grows in school that year. That was not a good year for reading for me.

And the subtext in SM Stirling's Change and Dies the Fire series is really upsetting for me, because in the world he's set up, millions of people with chronic medical conditions that can only be treated using modern technology will end up dying, and they are just conveniently not featured in the series at all. That puts me in a funk for days after reading one. Very aggravating.

I think, stemming from that previous paragraph, that if a character's death in a book haunts you for a long time, then there's something specific about that character that reminds you of yourself or someone/something close to you or a situation in your life. There's some resolution and relief in being able to track down that connection, as I feel it makes it easier to live with or at least understand.

Abhorsen? I was pissed. Especially about the non-human, not so much about humans - because that's eventually fixed.

No, this was a different book and not part of that series at all.

I can't really count this as part of the discussion, but... I was really gutpunched when I thought Sabriel and Touchstone were dead. Why I thought they really were, I dunno- maybe I thought Nix would be gutsy enough to kill off the heroine of the first book. But I was equally relieved to learn otherwise.

I felt exactly the same way about Sabriel. I liked them both so much that I was disappointed when I found out the future books weren't really going to deal with them at all. I really wanted, well, adult fiction books about them rebuilding the Old Kingdom with like political intrigue and learning to navigate a romantic relationship in a very structured and somewhat foreign society. But no! I was denied!

Yep! I figured that Drum would die in the first quarter of the book, but I found it troubling all the same. He was emasculated by steroids, so he had to die? He could be sacrificed because he wasn't able to have an erection? I'm not saying that being emasculated against your will would not be a terribly frustrating, alienating and disempowering experience, but I don't think it should regulate a character to death. And, just saying, penetrative sex isn't the be all and end all of sexual or life experiences.

I'm not sure what to make of Ella's death, other than that I didn't like it. I feel that there was something vaguely wrong about it -- trite, maybe? -- other than my dislike of it, but I'd have to think about it more.

The entire issue of sex was handled really strangely in that book. I half liked it (teenagers having sex! that's so real!) and half hated it.

(Deleted comment)
I'm not kidding, I just put down Abhorsen after a re-read, so I can tell you in all confidence that the Dog doesn't really die. Then she wandered off, following a zigzag path along the border between Life and Death, her tail wagging so hard, the tip of it beat the river into a froth behind her. if that makes you feel any better.

Oh, I know, I remember it well. But it still annoyed me, how Lirael had to give up her best friend. The Dog is a spectacular character, and the final scene helped me a bit, and yet. I bawled.

adore your blind mag icon. *fangirls out*

And the subtext in SM Stirling's Change and Dies the Fire series is really upsetting for me, because in the world he's set up, millions of people with chronic medical conditions that can only be treated using modern technology will end up dying, and they are just conveniently not featured in the series at all. That puts me in a funk for days after reading one. Very aggravating.

Except for that one couple who were diabetics, who figure out what's what, and whose house some of the protagonists find and IIRC there's just a note left from the couple saying "we were diabetics, and yeah, so, whoever happens by this, please have all our useful stuff and stored food and if you can use it, best of luck to you". *gutted* (Which I guess counts as "not featured" since again IIRC they don't appear themselves.)

... I had ENORMOUS problems with Dies the Fire. The entire premise of it, as you say -- somehow I just found it too easily to vividly imagine what my real world would be like if that happened, and I'm not kidding -- I had insomnia and nightmares for a while after reading. I think I stopped only partway into the second book. I just couldn't take it. It took me a LONG time to get over it.

(This is within the last five years; I think I'm over it now, but honestly I don't want to dwell too much. I knew I had issues with "thinking about losing the people I love" either through death or separation and "thinking about losing my pets" and the whole shebang, and that book really for some reason made me DWELL on it.)

Yeah, that didn't really work for me, because I am a diabetic, so rather than going, "Oh, so sorrowful!", I went, "OH MY GOD. I'M DEAD." The fact that they died and selflessly left their stuff behind is also kind of a double fuck you, because there's that entire trope about people with disabilities suffering nobly, and submitting to inevitable death with one last grand gesture of magnanimity is only telling half a story that deserves more attention.

Then there's the fact that there's like no mention of anybody like that after that point, so it's kind of like people for whom no modern technology would be a serious issue, rather than just an inconvenience, just disappear from the story. So it's kind of like Stirling went, "Well, that's taken care of! Let's get back to the people who count!"

It's been a few years since I read the books, so maybe I'm wrong about this, but a lot of postapocalyptic fiction (well, fiction in general) is really ableist, unless it happens to be a "romantic" or "artistic" problem.

I do have a lot of issues surrounding apocalyptic scenarios, which I think largely stem from the fact that I have diabetes, and there's never a scenario that I see myself surviving for more a year and most of that in pretty horrible shape.

Oh no, it was totally ableist. I was gutted by that one mention not because it was nobly sorrowful but because it felt to me like a glancing reference to what had happened to an awful lot of people in that scenario who weren't The Protagonists.

Also, I think, because it made me really think about whether in such a scenario I (or people I know who would be in much worse straits) would want to struggle on for survival when it would seem there wasn't any real long-term possibility of it (i.e. if you truly needed medications or something to survive, well then, you're screwed, and your life is going to be crap and get progressively worse with no real possible solution). Just even starting to think about being faced with such a decision (about myself or others I love) was so profoundly upsetting that it was part of what started building up so that I couldn't go on.

Yes, all those people's struggles were invisible in the books. But it didn't stop me from thinking about them in great detail, which was part of the problem. It made the book that much more nightmarish.

(Hell -- even with something "minor"... I am pretty sure that nobody who mattered in the books wore glasses. GLASSES. I've got one pair at the moment. I don't even have a spare in case I break these. So there you go. I'd last until my glasses were ruined, and then I couldn't really SEE, and that'd be it. I remember being really annoyed that he never even addressed that simple and widespread kind of thing. ... If he did address it somewhere and I'm just forgetting, I'll retract, but I remember being irritated by it at the time.)

Oh no, it was totally ableist. I was gutted by that one mention not because it was nobly sorrowful but because it felt to me like a glancing reference to what had happened to an awful lot of people in that scenario who weren't The Protagonists.

I'm glad we're on the same page, then! What you say about those people's struggles being invisible is also part of what made the books difficult to read for me, but I continued to do so because that was before I learned about ableism, so I didn't have the vocabulary and methods to put my frustration into words. The fact that those issues were so overlooked made them stand out all the more, really.

(Hell -- even with something "minor"... I am pretty sure that nobody who mattered in the books wore glasses. GLASSES. I've got one pair at the moment. I don't even have a spare in case I break these. So there you go. I'd last until my glasses were ruined, and then I couldn't really SEE, and that'd be it. I remember being really annoyed that he never even addressed that simple and widespread kind of thing. ... If he did address it somewhere and I'm just forgetting, I'll retract, but I remember being irritated by it at the time.)

No, I think you're right. I don't remember anyone wearing glasses or having asthma or anything like that. Or even any fat people! All the main characters were basically good-looking and physically fit people. Which is strange because even those healthy, good-looking people could have kids who have chronic medical conditions. But apparently that didn't happen?

I do own the Dies the Fire books, so I guess I could re-read them and find out, but I think down that path lies rage.

Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Giver made me sad too!

But with The Giver at least it's not totally 100% for sure that they died, so in my mind, they survived.

That's what I'm going with and I'm sticking with it. :)

The first character death that I can remember actually making me so sad that I actually cried and was still sad about after it ended was in the movie Ladder 49. I just remember thinking "Wait, so, I watched this whole movie about this guy's life and then he died? Not fair."

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account