Reading between the Lines

Have you ever read a book or played a game and there was this character that you just didn’t quite understand? Or you didn’t really understand how they had become the way they are? Then, later, you find out that there was an event or series of events that changed their life forever. Even if in the story the character is the villain, you may come to know the character in ways you never thought possible. With this understanding comes the irrefutable knowledge that you can never look at this character the same way again. You might even start to sympathize with them.

Have you ever heard the saying “You can never make a first impression twice.” or “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”? These sayings are both about the same idea: it is impossible to get to know someone by just seeing the surface. Looking around, I see everyone as characters. They each have a story to tell and a personality to discover.
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“So, tell me about the most unforgettable memory you have. Tell me about what happened and what brought it about. Tell me how you reacted.” I said to the young lady sitting on the tan sofa across from me. We will call her Jane.
She was about twenty, with nervous blue eyes and a fleeting but endearing smile. Her flame colored hair was pinned back in a messy bun with curls escaping at the sides, framing her heart shaped face. She moved toward the edge of the sofa, intent on my request.
Her reply was slow in coming; “It was about twelve years ago,” Her voice was soft with recollection. “I was an only child. After having me the doctor told my mother that she shouldn’t try to have another child because she probably would not survive a second birth. My parents got divorced. They had been fighting for months. I had witnessed several of their arguments. They scared me.” Her head bowed, and whispered so quietly I had to lean forward to catch her words; words that explained everything in my mind.
“I heard them say my name as they yelled. They were arguing about me. It’s my fault, I don’t know why, but it is. After the divorce, I lived with my mom for the week and spent the weekend with my dad.”
“What is your favorite movie?” I asked.
Her head jerked up in surprise at my change in topic. “M-my favorite movie?” her voice quavered with unshed tears.
I nodded in encouragement.
“Well, I would have to say the Notebook. I love the way that despite everything conspiring against them, Noah and Allie still end up together with all of their children and grandchildren. It’s such a romantic movie…” Her voice trailed off.
“The Notebook has a happy ending,” I responded, “even though their parents tried to keep them apart. Allie’s mother hid all those letters Noah wrote. Why do you think that she did that?”
“She had once loved a poor man, but she chose to marry a rich man she didn’t love,” She replied, looking confused.
“Yes, and she tried to chose for her daughter as well. Even though Allie loved Noah, her mother thought Allie would be better off with someone else.” I said, leaning toward my patient. “She was just a person and tried to do what she thought was best for her daughter even though it wasn’t.”
Jane nodded in agreement but still seemed puzzled by what my point was.
“I believe your parents did the same thing. It was not your fault they spilt up. They are people and have there own problems. They probably felt it was best for you if you did not have to be in such a strained environment. You were a young impressionable child. They doubtlessly thought that they were protecting you. As their only child they loved you very much so they did what they believed was needed at the time and got divorced.” I paused, waiting for her to examine this new possibility and reevaluate her prospective on her childhood.
She looked down at her well manicured hands, then back up at me. Taking a deep breath she exhaled and said, “It clarifies a great deal about what happened before and after the divorce. I know they both worked so hard to get along afterward, and they both seemed happier.”
She picked up her purse from the coffee table separating us and stood. “Thank you, this really eases my mind and explains so much.”
I shook her hand then watched her walk out the door. I felt a smile tug at the corners of my mouth, a feeling of satisfaction filled me. I had always gotten that feeling after helping someone through some sort of problem.
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Although people in real life are not fictional characters thought up by some author somewhere, they share certain aspects. A really well developed character will be so authentic as to seem to be able to step out of the book. In this way you can come to understand characters such as that and compare them to real people. By doing this, a greater comprehension of the people and world around you can be achieved.





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