I had no overall theme planned for May, so while trying to think of what to discuss in this inspiration post, I got an idea from one of this month's holidays; Mother’s Day. So I decided to share with you all the source of my artistic talents and interests, my parents.
Parents play an important role in all of our lives. They supply us with the building blocks from which we assemble ourselves, be it from a mental, emotional or genetic standpoint. We are defined by their actions, choices and lifestyles. Your origin is the result of their encounter, and whether you get along with them or not, you are part of them as much as they are part of you.
My parents and me.
So what role can parents play in terms of storytelling? There are two ways to answer this question; the first is as being part of the story, the second is as influencing the story.
As being part of the story, parents can have a direct or indirect role. What I mean by indirectly, is that parents may affect the story by not even taking part in it. Parents are such a big part of our lives, than their absence can be just as influential as their presence. Without them, characters suffer a loss, and are forced to take responsibility and continue on their own. We see this often in Disney movies, where the loss of a parent (mostly the mother) motivates the main character to move on or react in some way.
As for directly, parents have often been seen playing important roles in storylines. As main protagonists, parents (or parental like figures) can make good heroes, as trying to perform their parental duties can be good character motivation. Here are a few good examples:
- Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise, whose main objective was to protect her son and prevent a future holocaust.
- Ripley from the original Aliens movie, who risks her life to save the young girl, Newt.
- The unnamed father from the book The Road, who spends the length of the story protecting his son in a post-apocalyptic world.
In some stories, the Protagonist needs some form of assistance in order to achieve their goal. In these situations, parents can come in various incarnations, such as mentor, protector or emotional support. Here are a few good examples:
- Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther from The Jungle Book, who act as adoptive parents to the human child, Mowgli, and teach him how to survive in the wild.
- Mr. Levenstein from the American Pie movies, who tries to give his son, Jim, helpful advice, though often in an awkward and comedic manner.
- The Weasley’s from the Harry Potter series, who take in Harry after he leaves the residence of his abusive aunt and uncle.
Parents playing the role of the antagonist can have a particularly strong impact on a story. Placing the protagonist in a confrontation with a parental figure creates a scenario that can be highly volatile and emotional scarring. Here are a few popular examples:
- In the classic tale of Cinderella, the evil stepmother forces Cinderella to work and prevents her from leaving the house.
- Doctor Crane, a serial killer posing as a dentist and loving father in the novel Deeper than the Dead.
- Darth Vader, the tragic villain from the Star Wars franchise, attempts to convert his son, Luke Skywalker, to the dark side of the Force.
Finally, we have parents that affect literature by inspiring the writer. As mentioned above, parents play a large role in who we are since they raised us to act and think like them. Their views and opinions will affect who you are, and will inevitably be translated in how you write as well. In my case, my mother was the loving, artistic type, whereas my father was the down-to-earth, opinionated type. The end result (me) was someone who was passionate about his views, which becomes apparent in my conversations or my writing.
My tastes for literature may differ greatly from my Mom and Dad’s, but in the end, I can still see them in everything I do. They played a big part in my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you all for stopping by, your continued support is truly appreciated. I hope this article has helped you in some way.
Until next time.
**In loving memory of Henriette (Lamoureux) Osborne -- 1948-2006**