For this month’s Classics Challenge, we’re supposed to answer questions about a character we found interesting in our classic of choice. I’m going to review Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart, which I would define as an apocalyptic sci-fi classic from 1949.
What phrases has the author used to introduce this character? What are your first impressions of them? Find a portrait or photograph that closely embodies how you imagine them.
The main character in this book has the charming name of Isherwood Williams (nicknamed “Ish”). I love the name–different and memorable without being wacky.
We’re thrown into Ish’s world in a dramatic way–he’s bitten by a snake. We know he’s smart, because he immediately knows enough to cut himself and suck the poison out, calming himself so it won’t spread faster into his bloodstream.
As the book opens, Ish is a young man in a post-plague world. We follow him from the woods into civilization, where he finds everyone has disappeared or died. We’re rooting for him as he discovers what’s happened.
The cool thing about Ish is that I pictured him as an average guy with smarts. Not really distinctive in looks, etc. But let’s see if I can find a photo of how I pictured him…Okay, this isn’t quite perfect, as I pictured someone shorter and somewhat nerdier. But he would’ve had a beard, from living in the woods for awhile (for his thesis research).
How has the character changed? Has your opinion of them altered? Are there aspects of their character you aspire to? or hope never to be? What are their strengths and faults? Do you find them believable? If not, how could they have been molded so? Would you want to meet them?
As we get to know Ish, he seems kind of disconnected emotionally. He enjoys watching the world and learning, and is not greatly moved by death. He also toys with the idea of acting as a god to the simple people.
As the book goes on (Ish becomes a dad, ages, etc), I don’t appreciate the way he favors one child and neglects his non-cerebral children (all in his attempts to save the human race, of course). But as the book ends, his thoughts shift away from that mentality, as he sees how his wife’s simplistic, yet stable views have been more important than his cerebral ones.
Yes, I would want to meet him, and I would’ve hung out with him if the human race was mostly wiped out by plague!
Try writing a short (four sentences +) note or letter as the character, addressed to you, another character, the author, anyone.