A Formidable Bond?
By Ahmad El-Mohtadi
In most literary texts, a close identification with the characters is crucial to truly understanding the story. “Characters in literature are the objects of our curiosity and fascination, affection and dislike, admiration and condemnation” (Bennett & Royle 2009). Similar to 'real' humans, characters in literature are required to cope with the various challenges being presented to them by life . How the characters overcome these challenges, or not, determines their fate. It is the experience of that fate and the degree of sympathy the reader shows for the character throughout the story, that determines the magnitude of the bond between the two.
Aristotle argued that the character is 'secondary' to what he calls the 'first essential'–the plot–and that characters are included for the sake of action. Whereas novelist Henry James argued that “the two are equal and mutually defining,” (Bennett & Royle 2009). The combination of powerful characters in addition to an intriguing plot, “indeed results in the novels and plays we most strongly respond to,” (Bennet & Royle). In variance with Aristotle, Serraillier (n.d) adequately presents the experiences and hardships of WWII, as well as immediately after, as seen through the eyes of a Polish family. In this particular novel, the characters–Ruth, Edek, Bornia and Jan–are equally as crucial to the plot, which in turn supports James to greater extent . With that being said, had they simply been one-dimensional characters, readers would have found it difficult to relate to their hardships and revelations consequently missing out on a truly captivating story.
Ian Serraillier's The Silver Sword, is littered with intricate lifelike characters that capture the reader's imagination and serves the question as to whether or not the reader would have handled the situation as they (the characters) did. In addition, Serraillier exploits the conception made by Bennet & Royle (2009); that...