An Archetype Comes to Call

As I have stated before, I’ve had to rein in my blogging somewhat to get back to work on my novel.  This best of intentions has been complicated by a block that I couldn’t seem overcome: a solution to make the story work, to help me get from point A to point B.  A minor character has stepped forward to sacrifice himself, and the story is saved at his expense.

It frequently happens that a character has to sacrifice himself so that the others that he loves can reap the benefits of a successful quest.  The archetype is often called a “Christ-figure.” This character maintains the balance between good and evil that exists in the world due to a general, scientifically supported law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Where one is taken, the other must diminish in like kind.  In my book the protagonist’s brother, Michael, originally existed as a peripheral character to illustrate the stresses Sophie was under at the start of the story.  A tortured young veteran, he had seen too much of war to return to civilian life, and so he was useless to her in her efforts to take care of their large family.  Now, instead, he has stepped up as a sheriff’s deputy, the only career he feels qualified for in the civilized world.  He moves the plot along by instigating the investigation into their father’s murder, a necessary step in the trek to the story’s foregone conclusion. (Foregone to me anyway.)

As I have written his character with his entire storyline in mind, he has reminded me of Frodo.  Frodo finds that he cannot return to everyday life in the Shire because he has experienced and seen too much to forget. He is wounded both literally and figuratively, so “the Shire has been saved, but not for [him].”  He gets off relatively easy, passing into the Undying Lands because Tolkien could not stand to have his little hero fall into the fires of Mount Doom with the ring.

In Game of Thrones, Ned is the doomed hero who sacrifices himself to reveal Joffrey’s true nature and his illegitimacy to be king.  Though he is killed before he can give the details, his death rallies those who deserve to be in Joffrey’s place and (I hope) will eventually lead to his demise.  I haven’t read that far yet.

I appreciate Michael’s sacrifice so that I can write my book.  I can only promise him I will make him proud of his death scene.

One thought on “An Archetype Comes to Call

  1. Pingback: Character Development: A Step by Step Method « Writing Is Hard Work

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