by Davy Kenney
The Sorting Hat Game – Pick a Character
If you hang around with bookish people enough, you might encounter this question: What character from literature do you associate with the most?
You could just pick the first character that comes into your head, but where is the fun in that? Instead, treat this as a Sorting Hat Game.
The way you answer will put you in the same category (or house) with other people who answer in a similar way.
No, not people that have the same character, but those who use the same criteria to pick their character. Like in Harry Potter, the goal of this game is to get into the same house as the people you like to associate with.
We mustn’t blame the Snobbindores. They have been asked a snooty question, and rise to the occasion with a snooty answer. It is here you will encounter the arcanely archaic and the archaicly arcane people in literature.
The Snobbindore make use of the forgotten and unacknowledged characters to make you aware of them. “You’ve never read that book? Oh, you should! You really should!”
You might often find too that Snobbindores will not answer with a character at all but an obscure author, a tormented but brilliant individual, whose characters cannot be taken individually but must be considered in the aggregate to come to a better appreciation of the mental faculties that created them.
You will learn about Foucault and Oedipa Maas, people you really should know about, apparently.
For the Snobbindore, your question was not an idle inquiry but a challenge: Who can name a more obscure character? And anyone that names a known character is but an armature at the game.
Here is where we see the bright side of things. The Noble-Claw recognizes her or his best attributes and brings up a characters that most vigorously engenders those traits. These are the dragon slayers, the half-fullers, and the horn-blowers.
Here is where we meet Jane Eyre and Raskolnikov, Scout Finch, Sherlock Holmes, Eddard Stark, and Lisbeth Salander. True, they all have their faults. But the emphasis of the answerer will be on their overcoming of adversary, their self-recognition, and their endurance.
The Noble Claw views literature as the ancients did: a thing that should make you a better person, and the Noble-Claws relish seeing their own virtues mirrored back to them on the pages of a good book.
Ever since I first read A Confederacy of Dunces, I have been worried about how much kinship I feel with Ignatius Reilly. That sounds like a joke, but it’s true and disturbing.
The opposite of the Noble-Claw, Misereens have sensed an ominous affinity with an alarming character. Down in the dark we find Captain Ahab and Lady MacBeth, Annie Wilkes and Humbert Humbert, Catherine Earnshaw and…well, pretty much all the characters from Cormac McCarthy’s novels.
We all have one, though most of us won’t admit it in public. We have all seen ourselves reflected darkly through the pages, and it takes guts to admit it to a crowd. The Misereens are not creepy, just honest though I think if someone actually answered “Humbert Humbert,” I would be a bit worried.
I think, if we all were to answer honestly, we would be in this group because as we grow older it becomes harder and harder to reproduce that effect a great book has on a young mind. Nostalgie-Puffs remember the good old days, when words were young and impressions were made easily.
Often they choose a character that has very little to do with who they have become as an adult, but what is important is the impression deep down in the soul. Here we will find Alice and Bilbo, Lyra Belacqua and Matthias the Warrior, Hazel-rah and Charlotte. It is always good to be in the company of Nostalgie-Puffs; they remember the beauty of reading.