One of the most endearing aspects of The Riders is the clever characterization. This allows the reader to relate to the typical national stereotypes and yet very extravagant personalities portrayed in the novel. The characterization, together with Winton’s considerable skill at using the characters’ view to evoke a sense of place, are two of the strengths of The Riders. The character of Fred Scully, the ‘hero’ of The Riders, is one of the most wonderfully written characters to have come out of Winton’s writing so far. Scully’s character encompasses all the traditional traits of the Australian: his use of vernacular, appearance, humor, as well as the outlook and many more. Winton has the reader accompany Scully in his desperate struggle through Europe and it is Scully’s personality that the reader finds themselves enjoying more than the sightseeing trip.
“…Scully [is] one of the most memorable characters in Australian fiction.”
Scully is memorable because his traits could be found in someone known by the reader; he could easily be the ‘man next door’. The beauty of Scully is that Winton has allowed for the character to evolve, and he has adapted along with his character. At the beginning of the novel Scully is the “…big friendly shambles of a man who followed them like an ugly hound, loyal and indestructible…” yet not long after Scully is seen as “…sheepish like a lamb unto the slaughter…”. These changes which occur in the character of Scully fit into the structure and plot of The Riders. Before the disappearance of Jennifer, Scully was a ruggedly handsome optimist, content to wait out the bad times, yet after the trauma of loss and heartache, …
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… is based around the idea that Scully is an emotional person, one who considers the needs of others. Scully follows Jennifer because of the baby. Yet he does not pursue Connor Keneally, because he understands that it would not be right, no matter how much he feels that he wants to.
Tim Winton’s Scully is a very memorable Australian character. His connection with the reader enables them to enjoy his individual humour, vernacular and his generally unsinkable optimism. Winton’s writing skills allow the reader to be drawn to Scully by the character’s particular outlook on situations. Scully once said “What you see is what you get”. Within The Riders this is not necessarily so, Winton gives Scully much more than what is printed on the page and it is up to the reader’s discretion of how much they perceive.
Winton, Tim. The Riders Prentice Hall 1996.
Character Manipulation in The Rise of Silas Lapham
Character Manipulation in Howells’ The Rise of Silas Lapham
Of all the characters who undergo change in The Rise of Silas Lapham, Lapham’s change is the only one looked upon in a positive light by the narrator. William Dean Howells uses the corruption of other characters to promote Lapham’s newfound morality and reinforce his ultimate triumph. Before Lapham’s financial ruin, he is the only character with fault. Yet as his world crumbles, so does the credibility and innocence of his wife, two daughters, and former partner, Mr. Rogers. At the same time, the very catalyst of Lapham’s ruin exonerates him. This allows Howells to reinforce Lapham’s ultimate rise in the novel, despite his financial and social failures.
While Silas Lapham’s character shines of perfect success in the book’s opening interview, we soon learn of the fault that will lead to his ruin. In a time when his company needed help, Lapham used Mr. Rogers for his capital, then pushed him out of the company once back on his feet. Mrs. Lapham holds the strongest position towards Silas’ treatment of Mr. Rogers:
“No; you had better face the truth, Silas. It was no chance at all. You crowded him out. A man that had saved you! No, you had got greedy, Silas. You had made your paint your god, and you couldn’t bear to let anybody else share in its blessings.”(45)
She believes that his treatment of Rogers is the only fault in his character, and is satisfied when he finally makes good on it by lending money to Rogers when asked. Despite his efforts to resolve the matter, Lapham refuses to admit his guilt. But the narrator tells us he is guilty*, and Silas admits feeling relieved after working it out: “‘Well, I don’t know when it’s done me so much …
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…ng Lapham’s upward motion cannot be accidental. Lapham needed his wife to nag at him about Rogers, and needed Rogers to be a “rascal” to start the events which lead to his rise. Lapham needed his daughters’ distraction to ensure his lack of support and need for complete self-sufficiency during his hardships, as well as its incorporation of the Corey family to justify his involvement and failure with “society.” Howells creates a plot in which Lapham figuratively steps on the other characters in order to rise.
Works Cited and Consulted
Carter, Everett. Howells and the Age of Realism. Hamden, Conn.: Arcton Books, 1966
Howells, William Dean. The Rise of Silas Lapham. 1885. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1988
Van Wyck, Brooks. Howells His Life and World. Dutton, 1959.
Wagenknecht, Edward. W.D. Howells The Friendly Eye. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969