Concealed Character | Teen Ink

Concealed Character

February 8, 2023
By clarART SILVER, Boston, Massachusetts
clarART SILVER, Boston, Massachusetts
9 articles 7 photos 0 comments

In literature, pivotal moments in the plot often conceal deeper meaning and themes. When the reader discovers these meanings, they can then apply lessons learned by characters to real life. This is true in Camron Wrights’ The Rent Collector. Many pivotal moments in this book bring even more hidden themes. A turning point that stands out most is when Sopeap Sin finds the book that Sang Ly gave Nisay. In this pivotal moment, and continuing later in the novel, Wright establishes the theme that the most unexpected people can have hidden character. 

The rent collector finding Nisay’s book begins to reveal this theme. Before this interaction, Sang Ly sees Sopeap Sin as the mascot of Stung Meanchey: a mix between a “cow” and an “ugly barking dog'' (Wright 7-19).  This description of Sopeap is emphasized from the very beginning of the novel. Therefore, when Sopeap displays a drastic change in character, appearing somber and nostalgic, Sang Ly questions everything she previously knew about Sopeap. Sang Ly is struck with confusion and doesn’t quite know how to respond, which marks this as a pivotal moment in her psychological development. This is the first instance where Wright begins to hint at the theme that the most unsuspecting people may have an obscure identity. Sang Ly also is now able to start to discover this theme on her own, further proving that this is a turning point in her character arc. This theme is very important when it is first introduced.

Continuing in the rest of the book, this turning point impacts not only Sang Ly’s personal development, but also the central plot. It almost seems as if Sopeap has endless concealed characteristics that aid in making her a truly interesting figure. As Sang Ly is able to reveal more and more secrets about Sopeap, such as how she, “for nine wonderful years,” was a “teacher,”  and “truly” get to “know” her, the bond between the two of them grows stronger (1; 42). Sang Ly and Sopeap’s tight friendship even becomes part of the central plot of the novel. From just a simple pivotal moment of Sopeap finding her old book, the chain of events that follows establishes a major theme and affects the plot. Without this turning point, much of the storyline would be lost. Sang Ly’s psychological development relies heavily on her relationship with Sopeap from the pivotal point until the end of the novel.

Evidently, many themes in this book are extremely important. One may argue, however, that the theme that unsuspecting people may have an abundance of hidden character is one of the most critical in the entirety of the novel. The development of this theme, which is sparked by the crucial moment of Sopeap Sin finding her book, helps with Sang Ly’s psychological progression and character arc. Not only this, but the theme can be applied to real life. One may come across people who seem to be an embodiment of “bitter[ness],” gloom, and “anger,” very similar to Sopeap (7). It is necessary not to immediately judge these people because, as seen with Sopeap, one can never know what lies beneath the surface of those emotions. From the start of the novel to the finish, Wright constructs the theme that the most unexpected people can have concealed character. 


Work Cited

Wright, Camron. The Rent Collector. Shadow Mountain, 2022. 

The author's comments:

This is an essay about The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. 

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