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Character perspective

Throughout “The Casual Vacancy,” Rowling shifts perspective among her core characters, often in mid-chapter and at times with very little forewarning. Several reviewers and readers have commented that they believe Rowling’s writing to be strongest when writing from the teenagers’ points of view. Do you agree? Which character’s perspective did you enjoy the most? Who do you wish we’d heard from more often?

Category: Discussion, The Casual Vacancy

7 Responses to Character perspective

  1. Molly Keener says:

    I enjoyed both Sukhvinder’s and Andrew’s perspectives most. I resonated with both, as I found their insecurities, and later, their increasing self-assurance, to be authentic. I also liked Gaia as a character, in that she was pivotal to the development of Sukhvinder and Andrew, but Rowling did not over-spend creative energy and character development with Gaia herself.

  2. Fred says:

    Does anyone think that Robbie is a Tiny Tim for our time?

    • Molly Keener says:

      I’m not sure I follow your reasoning. How so?

      • Fred says:

        Thanks for the question. I see Tiny Tim and Robbie as children who have disabilities. Each, with the proper intervention, has the potential to overcome their infirmities and lead a good life. Both Dickens and Rowling paint a depressing picture of their respective worlds. In the case of Dickens, there is redemption for both Tiny Tim and Scrooge. No such luck for Robbie. In the same way that Dickens tried to call attention to social problems and the abuses that came with industrialization, I think Rowling wrote a manifesto about the failures of post modern life and the futility of social service organizations. Am I reaching too much with this?

        • Molly Keener says:

          I don’t know that you’re reaching too much, Fred. I didn’t read a social commentary into Rowling’s book, which perhaps is shortsighted of me. Until you brought it up, I never considered that possibility. If she was aiming for a manifesto, I think it is a criticism of small town/small-minded politics without regard for larger, long-term impacts more than it is of social service organizations. If social service organizations had been her aim, I think we would have had more details about Bellchapel and greater focus on Kay as a character.

  3. Fred says:

    One of the pleasures of Vacancy is watching the diverse characters. I don’t see the story as shifting perspectives- rather I see the omniscient narrator peeling back layers of the characters so that we better understand and appreciate them. Some characters seem OK at first, then turn out to be truly without redeeming characteristics. Others begin the story with a bad reputation or seem the target of criticism. These reveal themselves to be the real diamonds- they have courage, conviction, and depth. Certainly Sukhvinder falls into this latter category. I would put Colin in this latter category as well. For most of the book we see him as a pompous and insecure bureaucrat. However, once we understand his struggles, we see him in a different light. I was especially taken with the phrase “he had been preparing for just such a disaster all of his life” when Colin remains calm and takes charge after the final climactic event of the book. Like Sukhvinder, he was dealt a bad card at birth, and has worked to compensate for it. As such, he is more likable and sympathetic. I have difficulty generating pathos for Krystal, as I see her as a bully. Yes she is in a tough spot and yes she tries to take responsibility for her family, but she lashes out against people who are weaker than she. She manipulates, and it is this tendency along with irresponsible behavior that creates the final tragedy. I am trying to decide if the infant, Robbie is meant to be a metaphor for all the downtrodden. He is powerless and a victim. Innocent and abused, we know that his life will come to no good end.

  4. Hu Womack says:

    Sukhvinder Jawanda is by far my favorite teen character. I appreciated seeing how she found her voice over the course of the book. I wanted to like other characters, but kept coming back to both Sukhvinder and Krystal. I appreciated their strength in the face of a bleak present. I think their two situations also show the influence of family. While Sukhvinder’s family was problematic, they were supportive. Krystal never had that type of “parental” support until Barry, and his death and the circumstances that followed were overwhelming for her, as they would be for anyone.

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