What can I say? It seems fitting that I get to talk about this type of literary character in my Curmudgeon's Corner-- the wise, old curmudgeon. I pretty much universally love the old guy in novels who says some really wise and profound things to the young protagonists. Take the premiere old wise man, Albus Dumbledore. Although he made some mistakes in the end, overall, he has to be one of the most revered old wise men ever in literature.
I started to realize this pattern this week when I was comparing my favorite characters in recent books that I've read. For example, look at If I Lie by Corrine Jackson. My favorite character is George, the old veteran, who is a surrogate father to Quinn. He is grouchy, but Quinn always knows how much he loves her, no matter what grumpy words he shoots her way. In fact, she probably loves him more than anyone else in the world. He alone stands by her when the world (including her own father) wants to condemn her. He is always there to listen and backs her up no matter what. And in the end, she is able to return the favor, which leads to some of the most moving passages in the book.
This week, I just finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. My favorite character in that book is Brimstone, the father figure to Karou. He's not human, and may be some sort of demon-- but he is the most warm and thoughtful non-human I have ever met. I can see why Karou is so loyal to him and loves him so much-- he's always been there for her, even when she makes the wrong decision. In the end, we see how far that love goes. Hint: it's far.
Then there is Alabaster from The Intern's Tale by Shawn Keenan, an amalgam of Dumbledore and Dr. Walter Bishop from Fringe. He kept me chuckling throughout. There's just something so loveable about a highly intelligent but forgetful old man who knows how to create fantastical inventions but at the same time misplaces his glasses when they are already on his head. That may be Dumbledore, not Alabaster, but you catch my drift.
Lastly, there is Death (pronounced "Deeth," rhymes with "teeth"), the librarian from Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore. He may not have been a father figure, or even a grandfather figure, but he steals the show from the protagonist herself. He putters around with a great set of one liners that made me laugh out loud hysterically. I wish I could meet this guy! He knows everything about everything and if he doesn't know it, he can figure it out. He's probably the smartest character I have ever met. And unsurprisingly, he gets the last word.
Who is your favorite old curmudgeon in literature?
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