Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Characters Who Reflect Their Settings

Sometimes a writer has a chance to draw a direct parallel between a character and his or her environment – Kate Atkinson does this brilliantly in One Good Turn, clueing us in to Louise’s character and the nature of the city of Edinburgh simultaneously:

Louise was running. Louise hated running but it was marginally preferable to going to the gym. The gym involved regular commitment, and outwith her job, she as crap at regular commitments. Go ask Archie. So, all in all, it was easier to grit her teeth and throw on her sweats, than jog sedately around the estate to warm up before heading off over the fields and, if she was feeling virtuous, or guilty (the other side of the coin), then up the hill and back again. The one good thing about running was that it gave you the space to think. That was the downside as well, of course. Dualism, the Edinburgh disease, Jekyll and Hyde, dark and light, hill and valley, New Town, Old Town. Catholics and Protestants. A game of two halves.

Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn

Can you think of some settings you have used in a similar way? Please share!

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