What is it about an underdog or a character that’s fighting against the odds that inspires us? Is it the fact that we, as readers, can relate to them because we feel like, in a similar situation, we would have the same misfortunes? Or is it their spirit? I think it’s a little bit of both. That’s why this week’s mini-listicle is all about characters who beat the odds.
Aliena of Shiring, Pillars of the Earth
Aliena is one of my favorite characters of all time because she is completely torn down–socially, politically, economically, physically, and emotionally–yet she manages to rise above. She does this by working within–and breaking–the confines of her world. Author Ken Follet did a fantastic job of balancing her missteps and victories in Pillars of the Earth.
Jo March, Little Women
Jo is one of my all-time favorite characters because she is so ahead of her time. Yet, she is frustrated at so many turns by the limitations placed upon women in the mid-nineteenth century. All the same, she finds her way–despite a stubborn streak–to realize her unconventional goals. Author Louisa May Alcott beautifully writes Jo as a relatable character who leaps off the pages of Little Women.
Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
To me, Katniss’s draw isn’t that she can fire a bow with near-perfect accuracy. It’s not her Robin Hood attitude. It’s the way she changes throughout the course of the Hunger Games. It’s the way she adapts in order to preserve both hers and Peeta’s lives. I won’t get into the third book, where she hides in a cupboard for most of the first half, but aside from that, Katniss’s strength comes from the fierce love she bears those select few with whom she’s close. Author Suzanne Collins brought to life one of humanity’s greatest capabilities in Katniss.
Who would you add to this list?
Who are your favorite underdog characters, and why? You might notice that all three of mine are female. That’s not to say male characters cannot fit this role; only that my favorites happen to be female.