Sunday, September 28, 2014

Villain of the Month: (Seeming) Perfection

In working through revisions on a piece with a seemingly (from the outside) "perfect" (aka unlikable) character, I've spent a great deal of time considering how beautiful and necessary imperfections are. It's a funny thing, too, since I teach at a high school where so many of my students are desperate to be perfect. I've spent the past decade watching them starve themselves to the point of near-organ failure, go long stretches without sleeping more than five hours a night, wake up at three in the morning to train for sports, do extra-credit even with an A+ in my class, beg for plastic surgery for Christmas, and so on and so forth. If they were killing themselves because they really wanted to achieve a goal, I'd smile, but most of the time it isn't for that. When asked, they often respond that anything that isn't perfect is failure, and it breaks my heart.

When at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this summer, I spent a long time admiring the impressionists for the beauty of their messy brushstrokes, and I wanted to put together a short list of "messy brushstrokes"(imperfections) of some of my favorite characters in literature (and life) that led to strikingly beautiful characters. I'm also hoping some of you will add others.

* Augustus's mom in TFIOS with her love of pillows with "encouragements"
* Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird's unconventional-at-the-time tomboyishness
* Gatsby's desperation to re-create a moment from his past that may never have been much of a moment at all
* Barbara Streisand's trademark beautiful nose
* Barbara Walters's lisp
* Forrest Gump's slower approach to life
* Bill Gates's nerdiness
* Katniss Everdeen's cool demeanor
* Harry Potter's scar
* My mom's tendency to pay for food at drive-thrus and then drive off without said food

What are you favorites?

1 comment:

  1. Funny. Perfection keeps coming up this week. I recently read another article about that topic. The article pointed out that the need for perfection is yet another contributing factor in suicide. I am so glad that you have helped shed light to both your students and your readers that imperfection is something far greater and more memorable than "perfection." I say Percy Jackson's ADHD and dyslexia has helped to make him a lovable and more human character. Go imperfectionists!!! :)