Original entry posted: Thu Jul 19 15:40:14 2007
"Ever since I was a little kid, the arrival of prophecies and fate in a book deflated me--if someone was Written In The Stars, then it more or less (with a very few exceptions) meant that I knew how it was going to turn out . . . and how was that fun? It gave away the ending, and it undermined my interest in the characters, because they appeared to me like marionettes tugged along by this Fate thing. Precisely my respect and love for these characters made me strongly desire that their actions not be forewritten, but worked out by them. Linked to that was the whole question of the Chosen One, the hero who is a hero just by virtue of the fact that it is Fate that they will be a hero--this struck me as unsatisfactory and undeserved. Not to mention, where did that leave their friends? As also-rans, that's where--as sidekicks. The sidekick is a stock figure in fiction, and even when I was very young, I was really troubled by the notion of a character who is existentially defined by their subordination to another. It's a pretty terrible disrespectful way of conceiving of someone--they're not a friend, they're a subordinate. They exist in American fiction too, of course (who is Robin without Batman?), but there is a particularly vivid nostalgic English representation, like army officers pining for their loyal manservants. So Dan Dare has his Digby, Bulldog Drummond has his Tenny, and so on. And you can see it in modern versions. One problem I had with the first couple of Harry Potter books was the Wishing Hat's laudatory description of Hufflepuff as "loyal and true"--here are an entire group of people whose positive quality is that they are subordinate to--loyal and true to--other people. This is a dream representation of a butler class. I always thought sidekicks deserved to make the running for once. I was kind of a sidekick myself, you see."