Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Something in a name

Okay, I’m sort of odd when it comes to names in a story.  Once upon a time, I was forced to read Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  In the first few pages, I knew what the ending of the book would be and only finished it under protest.  Throughout this whole novel, I loathed Darnay.  He irritated me to no end, and as I pondered why—besides his incredibly stupid actions—I realized that only once does the reader ever see Darnay’s first name.  He’s only called Charles once.  One time.  Now I know there are others who are not referred to by first names, but those gentlemen had titles.  Doctor, Mister, always something before the last name.  Yet, Darnay was just Darnay, and there was little else to him besides the fact that he bore a striking resemblance to Sydney Carton.  My brain in its infinite quirkiness came to the answer that perhaps I was not supposed to like Darnay.  That the use of his last name without title and the lack of insight into his personality was an act of subliminal messaging enacted by Mr. Dickens to turn my thoughts against the man.

On the other hand, I love secret names, such as Ged in Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.  For me, knowing Ged by his true name as I read his story was like I was one of the people trusted to know his name.  After all, he could have been called Sparrowhawk through the whole story and his true name only mentioned when in conversation with his closest friends.  Then I would have known it, but it wouldn’t have been the same.  Quirky brain.