Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What do Tom Joad, Darl Bundren and Macon “Milkman” Dead III all have in common?

Yes, all three are famous literary characters, and each is the tragic protagonist of the story he inhabits. But there’s something more… They all have sisters with crazy-ass names.

Rose of Sharon? Dewey Dell? First Corinthians and Magdelena Called Lena? What is it with these families? What is it about 20th Century American fiction that requires the injudicious and reckless naming of baby girls?

Now, sometimes it’s the guys who get a profligate christening (Soaphead Church and Tea Cake come to mind), but by and large, it is the fairer sex that gets saddled with awkward handles. Scout? Skeeter? Idgie? Sabbath Lily? I could go on and on...

What does all of this mean to you and me? Well, that depends. If your sister’s name is Sarah or Emily or Anne or Jane, it probably means nothing at all.

On the other hand, if you have a sister named “Gypsy Sunrise” or “Heaven’s Own Rays” or something absurd like that- I don't mean to get all Stranger than Fiction on you, but there’s a decent chance that your reality- your entire life as you know it- is nothing more than the figment of some author’s imagination.

The nice thing about this scenario is that your story will be taught to high school students and revered by serious readers for generations. The flip side of that coin is that you're probably headed for some great calamity.    So, you know... be careful.

No comments:

Post a Comment