Thursday, September 13, 2012

Core Question #3: What personal lies hide YOUR character's vulnerability?

Lies, you say?
Courtesy of Linda Rowlands
Gravestone at Washburn Cemetery,
Scranton, Lackawanna, PA
Yes, lies. We all believe them, whether we realize they are untruths or not. For instance, when I was five years old my grandmother was killed by a drunk driver as she stepped foot onto the curb. For years I had remembered part of a conversation I overheard shortly after her funeral regarding her grave marker.  She was the first female child of David and Hannah (Rowlands) Jones to die, and she was buried in the Jones family plot.

The grave marker was engraved with the surname JONES. My grandmother's  married name, however, was NEWTON. It seemed that it had been proposed that her name be engraved on a separate stone with the surname facing the opposite direction. That is what my mother and I had always believed had happened. In fact, I thought that I had seen such a stone when we went to the cemetery for my grand aunt Hannah (Jones) Holden's interment.

In fact, no such stone ever existed. It wasn't until some years later that a cousin connection through Ancestry.com led me to this photo of the grave marker which verified that my grandmother's name had actually been engraved at the bottom of the family gravestone: Harriet S. Newton, 1906-1966. (Now if I could only find out what the initial "S." represents.) I had no idea that this was, in fact, a lie that I had believed because I did not have access to the truth and had only overheard a passing conversation and built a perceived reality around it.

What incidents of Isaac Carter's early life wounded him and caused him to believe a lie?
Wounds which distort our perceptions of reality do not have to be caused by severe traumas. They can result from issues such as the lack of strong, lasting friendships...betrayals...rigid parents who instill negativity which erodes their confidence and cripples their ability to perform...or a host of other events that many of us might take for granted, but which scare the child early in life.

While it's obvious that his youngest brother's seizure disorder, the death of his parents, his grandfather's declining health, the separation of the family resulting in the four youngest children being apprenticed to Master William Temple each would have been enough in itself to wound young Isaac, there must have been other incidents common to children in general, as well those created by living within the regional, racial and economic boundaries of that era, that could have exposed an area of vulnerability.

It is impossible to know just how these soul wounds may have affected young Isaac as he matured, but it would not be unreasonable to think that he may have developed a fear of abandonment to some degree. Many times these children mature into adults who become the mediator, one who wards off conflict, and tend to take on multiple roles within the family. They may lose themselves in some sort of industry, be it work, a hobby or other interest which serves as a distraction. They are known as the one no one has to worry about.

If this were the case, then Isaac's false front would be the mask of self-reliance which would hide an intense fear of depending on others. Once a deep attachment is formed, i.e. friends, marriage and children, he would inwardly worry excessively that the relationship might end in illness and eventual death. It might also take the form of a fear of financial hardship should he become incapable to provide for his family due to illness or death.

Now that we've gotten to the core of our protagonist, the next step is to determine how these motivators shape the plot of our story....

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