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Izzy May I: The Write Character Death

The death of any character may surprise you, but there are those that grip you and never let go. Those that shock you awake, change you, or trigger a total eclipse of the sun.

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Just as every other post, this is subjective. Please feel free to add your thoughts in a comment below or respond with a new post that’s linked back to mine. Remember to warn viewers that there are SPOILERS AHEAD.

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As you decide whether to keep reading this death toll, feast your eyes on…

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Ah, so you’re still here. Okay, let’s get started.

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Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

  • Buffy, the chosen one to take down monsters and demons, is powerless when she comes home to find her mother lying on the couch, lifeless.
  • Buffy and her gang deal with death in every single episode, but it’s usually in gruesome, dramatic, and some-what satisfying ways. This episode explored the quiet horror of a natural death.
  • The characters left behind struggle to wrap their minds around the fact that Joyce had died of a brain aneurysm, not from a supernatural phenomenon. Each character has their own unique reaction as the loss of Joyce means something different to them. This realistic depiction of grief and coping is still being talked about.

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Finnick Odair (Hunger Games)

  • Many times in the Hunger Games series, Collins blurs the line between what is and isn’t necessary. Finnick’s death tops the list. It still boggles my mind. I still have trouble grasping the authenticity of it; sometimes I just feel malicious intent from Collins to rip my heart out because she can — but that’s the chronic pain talking. On some level, I get it. No one gets out of war unscathed. The gruesome loss of this friend, keeper, victor, tribute, warrior, husband, father is yet another atrocity that should make me jump back and scream “Stop! Enough.” It just hurts too much.

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Peeta Mellark (Hunger Games)

  • One of Peeta’s greatest fears is turning into something he isn’t — and that’s exactly what happens in Mockingjay (book three). The Peeta we’ve come to know and love has morphed into another piece of the government’s game: A tortured, hijacked mutant set out to destroy Katniss. This raises a great question on what it means to die (or kill your character). Peeta’s situation seems hopeless, but somehow, he finds a way to clear the fog of the brainwashing and rise from the ashes of his demise.

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Tom Robinson (To Kill a Mockingbird)

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  • Truth and justice are meant to overcome. Yet the death of Tom Robinson, who’d been falsely accused of raping a white woman, comes as a blow of reality. In this world, life and the justice system aren’t fair. I was angry. No, I was enraged.

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Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby)

  • Despite his flaws, many readers and characters root for Gatsby as he strives to gain a famed status and regain the love of his life, Daisy. It’s frustrating to witness him come so close to achieving that dream. It’s his decision to take the blame for a murder caused by his beloved that does him in. He’s discourteously killed off, and that beloved of his doesn’t even bother showing up to his funeral. A brilliantly unsatisfying ending.

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Boromir (The Lord of the Rings)

  • Boromir is a questionable character and companion as Frodo and the rest of the fellowship journey to Mount Doom to destroy the one ring. Boromir’s loyalties to the cause tends to clash with his loyalties to his people back in Gondor. This is ever so evident when the darkness of the ring entices him enough to attack Frodo for it.
  • Frodo escapes. Boromir is left to contemplate his horrific actions. Not for long, though, because the merciless Orcs show up. Boromir tries to protect as many members of the fellowship as he can, but he’s struck repeatedly with arrows. No chance now to apologize to Frodo. No chance to feel as if he’d redeemed himself. No chance to see his family again. No chance (possibly) to witness how this whole journey ends.

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Maes Hughes (Full Metal Alchemist, all versions)

“Mom, how come? Why are they burying daddy? Who are those people? Why are they burying him, why?”

“He’s gone, baby.”

“They can’t! I don’t like it! Daddy said he had lots of work to do and if they bury him, he can’t do it when he wakes up!”

“Elicia!”

Stop them, mommy! Daddy has to do his work, he told me! Why are they burying Daddy, Mommy? Why? …Daddy, wake up!

  • I cried so hard when he died. I cried at his funeral. I cried when anyone mentioned him. I cried whenever I saw his family. I cried when I re-watched earlier episodes. I’m barely holding back from a few tears right now.
  • Hughes is . . . was a military officer, a best friend, and a family man. He was a goofball who always surprised others with how serious, wise, and protective he could be. He was killed in action by an artificially created human who’d shape-shifted to disguise himself as Hughes’ wife. Hughes death signaled the unfolding of the whole story.

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Gwen Stacy (Amazing Spider-Man, comic and movie)

  • Heroes save people, dammit. That’s what they do.
  • Not this time.
  • The Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) holds Gwen hostage in a bridge tower. Spider-Man (Peter) comes to fight, but the Goblin throws Gwen off the bridge. Spider-Man uses his web to snatch her back up by the leg. At first, it’s a great sigh of relief, because he got to her at the very last second. But he soon realizes she’s dead.
  • Was she dead before the fall? Did he really not get to her on time? Or did the whiplash from his web snap her neck? The loss, realization, guilt, and ambiguity chew me up and spit me out.

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  • Rachel: She directed the conversation to Bridget Jones’ diary, the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, the Book Thief, and more. As I told her, I was surprised yet happy that I left those out of my list, because it opened the opportunity for her to brilliantly shine light on more book-to-film adaptations.
  • Curtis Bausse: He wrote a thoughtful post on the difficulty for a movie “to come close to the effectiveness of a book.” He even disagreed with me about the Lord of the Rings adaptation. 😛 Ever came across Bob Fosse’s 1972 film Cabaret? Ever read Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin? Me neither, which is why I’m thrilled Curtis brought my attention to them.

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9 comments on “Izzy May I: The Write Character Death

  1. Fantastic post Izzy. I’d totally forgotten about Jay Gatsby. That was such a shock. I got a shock when I was watching an Australian movie called “Japanese Story” when one of the main characters died. I was in denial, thinking “he’s not dead, he can’t be dead.” Another sad one is when the dad dies in “Kick-Ass”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen either, but I’m more drawn to Japanese Story. I must see it! I’m trying to see if I can watch it online or get it via Netflix.

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      • Yes, it’s really good. I hope I have’t spoiled it for you! The Great Gatsby is excellent too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Great Gatsby definitely is. Knowing the characters and their fate, which character would you be if you had to choose?

        As for Japanese Story, I have a good guess on what’s to come from your previous comment, but knowing something doesn’t prepare me emotionally. So no worries at all!

        I haven’t found it online yet — emphasis on “yet” because I’m not giving up. ^_^

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  2. Here’s something else that caught my eye:

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  3. So wonderful. I was thinking of doing a post on ‘killing your darlings’ as well, but I don’t think I would have done it as much justice as you did. I will have to rethink!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Izzy’s May I: The Write this week is about the death of fictional characters. As she gives a good list herself, I shall only add a couple here (apart from poor Mabel). Perhaps the death which caused the greatest trauma was that of Sherlock Holmes, in the 1893 issue of The Strand Magazine. ‘It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen,’ writes Watson at the start of The Final Problem, before going on to reveal that Holmes had fallen to his death at the Reichenbach Falls, pushed by his old enemy Moriarty. Having lost its fictional mainstay, The Strand Magazine promptly lost 20,000 devastated subscribers. Unlike his readers, Conan Doyle was relieved to be rid of his creation: “I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards pâté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day.” Eventually he relented though, revealing ten years later, in one of the most famous examples of retcon (retroactive continuity, or altering an established fact) that Holmes hadn’t died after all. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Last Week’s Contributions to the Write Character Death: […]

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