Thursday, March 23, 2017

Guest Post: How Important are Character Names? (And Why do I Forget them so Often?)

I recently read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman for school, and if you've read that book before, you probably know that the main character doesn’t have a name. Of course that is, unless you're like me. I didn't notice the main character's namelessness until my teacher brought it up. A lot of people said it had bugged them a ton, meanwhile I hadn't even noticed it. That got me thinking, how important are character names?

Names can be powerful stuff. They can have a lot of significance and meaning. Take for example, Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, this series is a sci-fi retelling of four fairy tales: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Each fairytale is reflected in the names of the characters: Cinder being Cinderella, Scarlet being Little Red Riding Hood, Cress being Rapunzel, and finally Winter being Snow White. (Personally my favorite name is Cress, as it's so incredibly clever. Cress's full name is actually Crescent, but she mostly goes by Cress, which is a type of vegetable like Rapunzel.)

Character names can also become much more than a name. Like Harry Potter. Yes, Harry Potter is the name of the black haired, green eyed, glasses wearing boy, but his name has also come to represent, for so many people, an important piece of their childhood.

However, despite how important I believe names can be, I still tend to forget them. Mind you, I've never forgotten any of the names of the four main characters of The Lunar Chronicles, and of course I'd never forget Harry Potter's name.

Sometimes, though, names can be unmemorable. I remember the names of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, because the meaning behind them, they stand out, their unique, they make an impression.

As for Mr. Harry Potter, his name is virtually inescapable. Even for the couple years when I didn’t really like the Harry Potter series (I know *gasp*), I still knew a lot of the key characters’ names, mainly, because, as I said before, they're unavoidable. It’s quite interesting how a fictional character’s name can come to mean so much to so many people.

The names I tend to forget the most are in contemporary novels, and the names I remember the most tend to be in fantasy novels. One reason might be that the names in fantasy are generally more unique, and the names in contemporary are the everyday ones that already slip through my ears on a daily basis (my ability to forget names is not confined to literature, unfortunately).

My habit of forgetting names can be annoying when I’m reading a book, and suddenly realize I have no clue what the mc’s name is (this happens more often than I'd like to admit). It most definitely is annoying when I’m in a new place, and I have to ask each person, at least 50 times, what their name is. However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really effect my enjoyment of books (as I can still recognizing the name, just can’t recall it later too well), so it doesn’t really bug me all too much. Some names are memorable and impactful, and some names aren't, and that’s okay too.

Hello, I'm Cassidy. I've currently been on this earth for fifteen years, I know #tinychild. At the moment I'm working my way through high school, and I haven’t drowned yet, yay? (Though the next big looming thing, otherwise known as college, is already breathing down my neck.)

I’ve loved books from the moment my second grade teacher cracked open The Little House on the Prairie. She read it aloud to us over a span of a couple weeks, and ever since, it’s been nothing but wholehearted bookworminess. Starting Quartzfeather has helped me share and express my literary addiction, and I am forever grateful for the existence of the online bookish community.