Character Connection: Weaver Smith

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A Gathering Light

Weaver Smith is not the main character in A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (known as A Gathering Light to Brits), but he plays a big part. I would say that he’s the faith of the story. Not religious faith, but faith in himself, in his friends, and their talents.

Weaver is Mattie Gokey’s best friend. I’ve written about Mattie in an earlier Character Connection. It’s unusual enough for a girl and boy to be as close as they are in 1906, but what makes it really unusual is that Weaver is black. Luckily, he’s living in upstate New York, so racism is not as prevalent as it would be if the story were set in, let’s say, Mississippi. It’s still there though. Weaver is actually from Mississippi, but after his father was murdered, his mother moved them up to New York. She is determined to give her son the best life that she possibly can.

Weaver is making the most of his opportunity. He’s brilliant and he’s a hard worker. He’s already earned a scholarship to Columbia, where he plans to eventually go into law. He and Mattie both love language and they play a synonym duel whenever they’re together. He doesn’t listen to the people around him who say that he’s a black man and he will never be more than a field hand or janitor. He knows that there’s a lot more in him than that. He has it within himself to change the world. He works at whatever he can in order to save money for college and to help his mother. He suffers his own setbacks in the story, but he is above them. He’s going to pursue his dreams, come hell or high water.

He’s the first generation of his family to be born “free.” He has a lot to say about that.
     “Weaver always says freedom is like Sloan’s Liniment, always promising more than it delivers. He says all it really means is being able to choose among the worst jobs at the logging camps, the hotels, and the tanneries. Until his people can work anywhere whites work, and speak their minds freely, and write books and get them published, until white men are punished for stringing up black men, no black person will ever really be free.
     “I was scared for Weaver sometimes. We had hillbillies in the North Woods, same as they had in Mississippi–ignorant folk just itching to blame their no-account lives on someone else–and Weaver never stepped off the sidewalk or doffed his hat. He’d scrape with anyone who called him nigger, and was never scared for himself. ‘Go round cringing like a dog, Matt,’ he said, ‘and folks will treat you like one. Stand up like a man, and they’ll treat you like a man.'”

I’m making him sound terribly earnest, but he’s a lot of fun as well. Mattie tends to get lost in her own thoughts and worries, but Weaver is always able to pull her out of them by cracking a joke.

He’s a great friend in other ways. He’s constantly encouraging Mattie and pushing her to go after her own dreams. When Mattie gets entangled with a not-so-great love interest, Weaver makes it clear that she deserves better. When Mattie loses faith in her own abilities, Weaver finds other voices to chime in and give her encouragement. The best friends are the ones who push you to become all that you can.

Who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

Character Connection

Who do ya love?

Or love to hate?

You know you’ve got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!

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.

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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1 Comment

  1. Can you believe it? I did one today! And I really wish I could remember A Northern Light better than I do. Thanks for the little reminder!

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