When I first read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower I was struck by the fact that the character was so real because she seemed so much like me and the people that I know. #Representation Matters is a very real thing. For those who haven’t read the Earthseed Books it follows the tale of Lauren Olamina as she lives in a post apocalyptic America. Her father is a minister who loves and protects his family in worsening chaos. Butler pays a stark picture of a future California of limited resources, increasing violence, and homelessness. With the loss of her family, Lauren has to survive in a harsh world which leads her to starting a new religious faith. What I really loved about it-as in all of Butler’s books-is that all the characters are fully developed. She shows people who are helpful and kind; but also the ways in which people can be cruel and petty. Yet, somehow, there is always a hopefulness in Lauren’s character that carries you throw the difficult things. I plan to re-read it soon, because it’s been to long, but I’ve always loved this character.
Another great character of Butler’d is Lilith Iyapo of her Lilith’s Brood series. Like Lauren, she has to adjust to a changed human world-in this case the arrival of an alien race who alter humans to create new creatures. Watching Lilith try to understand her own children-who are only part human and very alien-was a fascinating ride. I guess what I admire about Butler’s characters is the ability of her heroines to deal with extraordinary change. And even though I doubt I’ll have to deal with aliens and (hopefully) not an apocalyptic downfall of civilization I hope that I can always maintain a sense of ethics and humanity and hope regardless of what life brings. I read both of these books just after college, and they had a powerful effect on me.
On a lighter note two other characters I’ve learned from are Precious Ramotswe from the No.1 Ladies Detective Series and Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld Universe. Precious Ramotswe, because of her optimism despite her past pain; and her complete acceptance of herself and love of her own culture. Granny Weatherwax is my fantasy universe alter-ego. If I get to be a witch, I want to be Granny Weatherwax.
Anyone else out there have some unforgettable characters? Or characters that you learned from?