Mattie Gokey: Character Connection

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We all have characters we love. Let’s spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

Most of you will probably post about how much you love each character, but this is a great place for the more creative ones among you to let go and have fun! Write a love letter to Captain Wentworth. Write yourself into a scene with Anne and Diana. Draw a picture of yourself in Jamie’s arms. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

Cover of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

My Waiting on Wednesday post this week has left me in the mood to talk about Mattie Gokey from A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.

Sixteen-year-old Mattie is the oldest of four girls.  Their mother is dead, so she’s left to take care of them all herself.  She mostly helps to take care of the neglected neighbor children too.  She complains to herself but she still gets the job done the best she can.

 It’s 1906 and her best friend is a young black man named Weaver.  Granted, this takes place in upstate New York, not the South, but I would imagine that prejudice was present to varying degrees throughout the country at that time.  I think it says volumes about Mattie’s character that she accepts Weaver as he is–charming, smart, and fun.

Mattie is a voracious, intelligent reader, writer and word collector.  Her teacher sees her talent and encourages her.  Mattie and Weaver have word duels that involve finding synonyms for words the fastest.  We’re not talking easy words like nice. We’re talking impossible words like iniquitous. That was fun to read!

Mattie desperately wants to go to college and become a writer. She knows that’s what she’s born to do. But a promise she made to her mother holds her back. As I read this, I was so worried for Mattie, hoping that she would follow her dreams, but knowing that I would understand if she didn’t. She really faces an almost impossible choice.

When I read this, the side of my book was a flurry of post-it flags marking quotes that I loved.

“What I saw next stopped me dead in my tracks. Books. Not just one or two dozen, but hundreds of them. In crates. In piles on the floor. In bookcases that stretched from floor to ceiling and lined the entire room. I turned around and around in a slow circle, feeling as if I’d just stumbled into Ali Baba’s cave. I was breathless, close to tears, and positively dizzy with greed….There were lives in those books, and deaths. Families and friends and lovers and enemies. Joy and despair, jealousy, envy, madness, and rage. All there. I reached out and touched the cover of one called The Earth. I could almost hear the characters inside, murmuring and jostling, impatient for me to open the cover and let them out.”

Here’s a very chopped-up quote that really took up about two pages in the book.
“‘Well, it seems to me that there are books that tell stories, and then there are books that tell truths….

The first kind, they show you life like you want it to be. With villains getting what they deserve and the hero seeing what a fool he’s been and marrying the heroine and happy endings and all that. Like Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. But the second kind, they show you life more like it is. Like in Huckleberry Finn where Huck’s pa is a no-good drunk and Jim suffers so. The first kind makes you cheerful and contented, but the second kind shakes you up….

Why don’t they tell the truth? Why don’t they tell how a pigpen looks after the sow’s eaten her children? Or how it is for a girl when her baby won’t come out? Or that cancer has a smell to it? All those books, Miss Wilcox,’ I said, pointing at a pile of them, ‘and I bet not one of them will tell you what cancer smells like….

I don’t mean to be coarse. I just…I don’t know why I should care what happens to people in a drawing room in London or Paris or anywhere else when no one in those places cares what happens to people in Eagle Bay….’

‘Make them care, Mattie,’ [Miss Wilcox] said softly.  ‘And don’t you ever be sorry.'”

Mattie is truly a realistic character that I think we can all relate to in some way.

Who did you connect with this week?  Link your post in Mr. Linky or tell me in the comments.

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