Bumbling heroes was RE: Gaiman's American Gods

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Thu Oct 11 06:01:55 EDT 2001

Melissa Proffitt wrote this, and other bits that have been snipped:
> Both Arthur Dent and Richard Mayhew strike me as being a peculiarly
>British kind of hero--not the only kind of British hero, but not the sort
>that pops up in American genre fiction.  The bumbling, uninformed affable
>type who is tossed into the middle of things and either learns to sink or
>swim--and the point of the story is to get him to swim.  

>  When I was a teen, Arthur Dent made an impression on me because I
>had never seen a protagonist like him before.  And he was still the first
>thing that came to mind when I read _Neverwhere_.  Some of that is
>setting and plot: ordinary guy in England is drawn violently out of his own
>world into another about which he knows nothing.  Some of it was the fact
>that even as ancient and decrepit as I am, I still haven't read many books
>with this kind of protagonist.  

When I read this, it seemed to me that several of DWJ's protagonists partly
fit this mould. Thinking twice, I'm not sure how many of them could be
described as "bumbling and affable", and taking a hero and throwing him into
a strange world is a good way to get him/her to show her/his qualities,
without their necessarily being an Everyman type to begin with- some of the
characters are stronger at the start, or more self-assured, and don't seem
to be changed as much when everything starts going wrong. (Rupert is a Prat,
of course, and I can't picture Howl bumbling even as a teenager newly in
Ingary.) But I would say Cat and Nan are like this, and possibly Jamie and
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