Thursday, November 19, 2015

Real-Life Moments in Fiction

Every now and then, while reading a work of fiction, I'll come across a part which stands out to me particularly as being very true to life.   Either I've felt exactly as the author is describing a certain character to be feeling; or the words spoken by one of the characters is just what I would expect a real person to say in such a situation; or I've seen a friend, a family member--or myself--behave just as the character I'm reading about is behaving.  Whatever it is, there's something that resonates with me and I find myself musing over the fact that this author "really understands people." 

So, today I thought I'd share with you a few of the snippets which have stuck out to me in this way.   Most likely they won't strike you the same as they did me (for after all, everybody's different...and you have the disadvantage just now of jumping into the story mid-way, instead of reading it from the beginning), but I really like these parts and would like to share them with someone.  So, that's what I'm going to do.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson  (Chapter XXIV)

And yes Alan had behaved like a child and (what is worse) a treacherous child.  Wheedling my money from me while I lay half-conscious, was scarce better than theft; and yet here he was trudging by my side, without a penny to his name, and by what I could see, quite blithe to sponge upon the money he had driven me to beg.  True, I was ready to share it with him; but it made me rage to see him count upon my readiness.
     These were the two things uppermost in my mind; and I could open my mouth upon neither without black ungenerosity.  So I did the next worst, and said nothing, nor so much as looked once at my companion, save with the tail of my eye.

..."Ye had better let me take your pack," said he, for perhaps the ninth time since we had parted from the scout beside Loch Rannoch.
     "I do very well, I thank you," said I, as cold as ice.
     Alan flushed darkly.  "I'll not offer it again," he said.  "I'm not a patient man, David."
     "I never said you were," said I, which was exactly the rude, silly speech of a boy of ten.

"The rude silly speech of a boy of ten."  Isn't that so true?  We can be such unreasonable creatures when we're upset.  For me, personally, this is a very accurate description of how I often feel (and behave) when a friend or family member does something to offend me.  I give the offending party the silent treatment, and insist on being huffy and unhappy until I'm satisfied that they're sufficiently disgusted with themselves.  And of course, the whole time I'm quite certain that they're acting very childish...while all the while I'm acting more so. 

Jo's Boys by Lousia May Alcott

Emil cheered up at once, and sitting with his arm about his "dear lass," in true sailor fashion told the happy ending of the tale.
     "Such a jolly old time as we had at Hamburg.  Uncle Hermann couldn't do enough for the captain, and while mamma took care of him, Mary looked after me.  I had to go into dock for repairs; fire hurt my eyes, and watching for a sail and want of sleep made 'em as hazy as a London fog.  She was pilot and brought me in all right, you see, only I couldn't part company, so she came aboard as first mate, and I'm bound for glory now."
     "Hush! that's silly, dear," whispered Mary, trying in her turn to stop him, with English shyness about tender topics.

That last line of Mary's.  I don't know why, but to me it's such an adorable little line, and I can totally see a young wife saying that to her husband.  Sometimes it's the smallest things--just a few simple words, put together correctly--that paint the largest pictures in one's mind. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

     'If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,' cried a young Lucas who came with his sisters, 'I should not care how proud I was.  I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine every day.'
     'Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought,' said Mrs. Bennet; 'and if I were to see you at it I should take away your bottle directly.'
     The boy protested that she should not; she continued to declare that she would, and the argument ended only with the visit.

This part has always struck me as singularly interesting...not because of it's significance to the story, but because of it's being so ridiculously normal.  I mean, isn't it crazy how often we engage in silly arguments over what we would and wouldn't do in a certain situation--when all the time the chances of us ever being in such a situation are pretty much nil?  It's hilarious, really.  (And exactly the sort of conversation one would expect from Mrs. Bennet.  Heehee.)

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

[For context: While attending school, David was elected by his fellow classmates to regale them with stories every night before going to sleep.]

Poor Traddles--I never think of that boy but with a strange disposition to laugh, and with tears in my eyes--was a sort of chorus, in general, and affected to be convulsed with mirth at the comic parts, and to be overcome with fear when there was any passage of an alarming character in the narrative.  This rather put me out, very often.  It was a great jest of his, I recollect, to pretend that he couldn't keep his teeth from chattering, whenever mention was made of an Alquazil in connection with the adventures of Gil Blas; and I remember that when Gil Blas met the captain of the robbers in Madrid, this unlucky joker counterfeited such an ague of terror, that he was overheard by Mr. Creakle, who was prowling about the passage, and handsomely flogged for disorderly conduct in the bedroom.

Okay.  I love this description of Traddles.  It's perfect.  Pretending to be "convulsed with mirth" and "overcome with fear."  Haha!  That is just how fun-loving, goofy little boys act!  I can totally see it.  And that's what's so cool about this paragraph.  It doesn't really forward the plot of the story, but it truly adds to the realism of it.  Reading this, and combining it in my mind with my own personal knowledge of children (and I'm not excluding myself here, either, because I was  a pretty goofy kid when I was little.  Just ask my mom), I'm left with an extraordinarily vivid picture of childhood.  It's amazing.

So tell me what you think. 
Do these passages strike you as being particularly true to life?
Do small, insignificant parts like these ever stick out to you when you're reading?


  1. Ooh, what a great idea for a post!!
    Excellent thoughts and examples as well.
    I've always liked the Pride and Prejudice scene because of the 'realness' to it. (I thought I was the only one who noticed those kinds of things.) It's a wonderful look into Mrs. Bennet's personality. :)
    And Mr. Dickens is brilliant, as we have said before.
    Yes, yes. A great post indeed!
    P.S. I love the new layout!

    1. Thank you, Cordy. I'm so glad you liked it. :)
      You noticed that part in Pride and Prejudice, too? Oh, then you "understand"! That's so cool! (And yep, now we both know we're not the only ones who notice those kinds of things. ;))
      Yes, Dickens is we have said before, and will probably say again. *wink*
      Aww, thank you so much. I have to admit I had my doubts about it...but then I have doubts about most of my posts, so that's nothing new. Ha! I
      ~Miss March
      P.S. Thank you, again! I'm glad you approve!

    2. Since reading your post the first time, my mind has been turning to some scenes/books that contain this 'realness'...and I have thought of these two scenes.

      In Austen's Emma when she and Mr. Knightley are arguing about Frank Churchill's choice to travel to London for his notorious 'haircut', there comes a point in the argument where Emma remembers that she agrees with Mr. Knightley and has only taken the other part to argue with him. She had in fact already argued the point with Mrs. Weston but now that Mr. Knightley was against Frank she took Mrs. Weston's excuses and called them her own.
      I am guilty of falling into these problems. I find that I sometimes agree with who I'm arguing with but I am either to stubborn to admit it or I'm enjoying the argument too much and enjoy playing devil's advocate. Do you know what I mean?

      The other 'scene' is from Austen's Persuasion. I'm rereading it and it's been fascinating. It's actually not considered as one of my favs but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, Captain Wentworth becomes/is so swallowed up in pride, indignation and resentment at Anne that his own behavior isn't called into question until it gets him into trouble. Mainly when he finds it is expected that he will marry Louisa (at least I think it's that I'm telling someone I'm not sure...). While I don't have personal experience using someone else to get back at a 'lover' I think this is a more realistic scenario than what is normally displayed in books when this plot is used. Does that make any sense? He was so blind in one way that he walked directly into another extreme. I hope this all makes sense... :/

      And yes, we will have to talk more of Dickens as he comes up! :D

      I understand the doubt thing. I just never know what people will think so I try my best NOT to think about it. But, there are still many posts that I just haven't tried to tackle in their published state...yet. ;)


    3. I was going to reread that scene in Emma, but I haven't time to look for it right now. :/ I do know what you mean, though. If someone is really set on a certain opinion (even if I do actually agree with them) I can tend to be a little more lenient towards the other side and even go so far as to argue in it's favor. It's funny how that works. :)

      Good observation about Captain Wentworth. Yeah, I think he was just so lost in his own hurt feelings that he wasn't really considering the feelings of those around him, and went--like you said--into another extreme. That is so easy to do. We may not even, purposefully, be trying to get back at the person who hurt us, but simply trying to prove to them that we're fine and unaffected by what they did...and that can certainly cause heartache all over again. Because what we really need to do is get to the root of the problem, not just cover it up. (Oh, and Louisa was the girl. You had that right.) Okay, now I'm not sure...did I follow your train of thought concerning Captain Wentworth correctly, or did I come at it from a totally different angle than what you were coming from? :/

      To answer your question, I'm sure what you wrote made sense. :) The only thing I'm wondering about now is exactly what you see as being the normal way this type of plot is displayed in books. Because I have a feeling I'd agree with you as to Jane Austen's approach being more realistic, but I'm having a horrible time coming up with specifics as to how other books deal with such a plot. :) Just curious.

      It's nice to know you understand about the whole doubt thing. I seriously worry too much over what people think of my writing. And yeah, sometimes that's the only you can do...just try NOT to think about it. :)

      ~Miss March

    4. I have found that I was in error! It's quite terrible! It is not the haircut conversation that I was thinking of but rather the conversation that takes place before Frank even arrives. It starts right out in Chapter 18 in case you want to look it up. :)

      Yes, you got my point about Captain Wentworth.

      I feel like in movies and books when this kind of plot is used, the one being used (I don't know what to call them, ha!), is either forgotten because we are so happy that the main couple is together...or the person was totally fine with being used and all is well (which is very unbelievable to me!)...or we find out the one being used is actually a horrible person and we don't care if they were hurt or not. I feel like Persuasion's story-line is more believable than these other options. What do you think?

      That's just what we need to two non-thinkers! I like it! Hahaha!


    5. Haha! So that's why I couldn't find it! :)

      Oh, good. I'm glad to know I wasn't making a total muddle out of it. :/

      Hmm...yes, I see what you mean. In trying to wrap it up and fix the situation authors often tend to fall back on, "well they weren't a nice person anyway," or "just forget about that person and what happened to them," or "guess what? It wasn't a big deal in the first place." Which in many regards is a bit of a cop-out, I think. Personally, I don't really consider Louisa to have been "used" by Captain Wentworth. I think she liked him and that he perhaps went a little too far in encouraging that, but I don't think any real harm was intended, or done. Which is entirely realistic, I think. Because you can be attracted to someone, enjoy their company, have hopes of the relationship going further, and still have it all end without being irrevocably hurt by it. That's one reason why I would say Jane Austen's way of dealing with such a plot is realistic. People move on. And when Louisa started getting to know Captain Benwick she probably didn't have a second thought about Captain Wentworth. :)

      Two non-thinkers! Precisely! :D

      ~Miss March

  2. Hehe, every single one of these books I'm quite familiar with - if not the book itself, the author.
    Oh my goodness, what?! Miss March I think we share the same brain! :P I recently read "Kidnapped" and that part ESPECIALLY stuck out to me because I thought it was so true. I had to read it several times so I could appreciate how R.L Stevenson put into words what I constantly feel. And in saying that, I do agree with you, I do EXACTLY the same thing. :P (And then feel SO silly afterwards, haha....)
    I haven't read Jo's Boys but I'm familiar with Emil as I've read Little Men a lot. :) (And he got married? Aww....)
    Haha, I do that too, in real life, just to tease people, or when I'm bored. Ahem. :P
    Hehe, I remember you telling me you always loved Tommy Traddles! (Isn't his name adorable?!) He's pretty cute. :)
    I must go now, but I shall add I enjoyed this post very much! :D
    ~Miss Meg

    1. Aww, Miss Meg! Your comment was a delight! I love hearing from you! (And I feel very honored to share a brain with you! ;))

      Seriously? That's so funny! To think you just read "Kidnapped" and that part stuck out to you, too! There certainly is a lot of truth packed into that scene. It's amazing how good writers can so fully capture human nature. I wish I could write like that!

      You haven't read Jo's Boys yet? (I feel like you told me that before. Was that a book your mom wanted you to wait to read until you were older...or am I thinking of something different?) Anyway, you should read it sometime. It's REALLY good. It's fun to see all the boys when they're grown up. You've read Little Men? Oh, wonderful! I love that book! Do you have a favorite of all the boys? Tommy Bangs was always my character when would play it as kids.

      Haha, yeah. I probably do it mostly in a teasing way, too. Pointless arguments are pointless, but they can be a lot of fun sometimes. ;)

      Yes, I love Tommy Traddles. He's kind of special to me, probably because he was always my character when we used to play "David Copperfield." (As you can see, I have a thing for mischievous boys named Tommy...heehee.) Yes. His name IS adorable...and he's such a sweet character...and I should probably do a whole post devoted to him sometime, except that most likely it wouldn't interest anyone but myself. Haha! :)

      Thank you so much, Miss Meg. The fact that you enjoyed this post means a lot to me. :)

      ~Miss March

    2. Haha, well, maybe only part of a brain. ;P I'm sure we're not entirely alike. ;)
      I know, I wish I could write like that, too! To be able to put into words what everyone feels, and do it in such a way that no one has done it before or that captures it feels like a bit of a hopeless cause, for me. ;)
      No, I never read Jo's Boys. Well, I was going to read it but my mother thought the story line sounded a bit too sad and depressing, perhaps. (I think it mentioned on the back cover that some of the boys, maybe it was Dan, went to prison, and other things that were rather disappointing. I'd like to just pretend they all lived happily at Plumfield. ;D But I still sometimes wish I could read it, because I do like L.M. Alcott's writing style very much! The same actually goes for Rose in Bloom. My mother was going to buy it for me for Christmas, but then she read the back cover and was put off. She showed me and I was a little disappointed too. It said Rose couldn't decide who she loved at first and then one of the boys -Charlie, was it?- didn't listen to her warnings and died....and it just didn't sound like Eight Cousins. :/ So I decided to leave that for the moment, and suggested my mum should buy "An Old Fashioned Girl" instead, since I hadn't read that one and it looked promising.) The books I 'had to wait until I'm older' were more like Jane Austen. ;) Well, I did love all the boys very much, but I'm not sure if I had a favourite.....I think it was a toss-up between Nat and Tommy. Nat is very sensible and sweet, and Tommy is adorable and mischievous. :D
      Haha, pointless arguments are some of the most entertaining and amusing ones out there. ;)
      Mischievous boys named Tommy.....haha, did you ever like Tom Sawyer? :P Haha, no, I'd read it and enjoy it! If that's what you want to do then do it! It's YOUR blog. ;) I haven't read David Copperfield for over 2 years and I'm beginning to forget Tommy Traddles a little. I remember the name, and that I liked him and he was cute and mischievous but I don't remember much more. I want to re-read David Copperfield again sometime.....once I plow through some more of my 'to-read' list. ;)
      You're very welcome. I love to make people happy. :)
      ~Miss Meg

    3. Haha! Yes, it would have to be a partial brain, certainly, because it would be positively ridiculous to be exactly fact, that's impossible! :D heehee.

      Oh, I know. Being able to capture such feelings on paper seems pretty hopeless in my case, too. I SO wish I could, but I know I'm certainly not there yet...and it's very doubtful whether I ever will be. :/ Ah, well, I guess we can only write as we can write, and that will have to satisfy us. (Ha! Like it will.)

      Oh, I can understand why you decided not to read Jo's Boys if that's what the back of the book said. But it's really not a depressing story. It does have some sad parts--such as Dan's time spent in prison--but his character grows a lot through that experience, so it's a really important part of the book; and then there are loads of happy parts to make up for it. One of the funniest chapters is about Jo and her fame as an author...all the ridiculous fan mail she gets, and all the people constantly stopping by to get a peak at the "famous authoress"; and how she has to hide and refuse to see people or she won't get any work done. It's pretty fun.

      As to Rose in Bloom, I think if you read it, you'd find it to be a sufficiently accurate sequel to Eight Cousins. The characters remain the same in essence, though of course they're grown up. Charlie is the one who sort of changes for the worse, but you still care about him, and there are some really good scenes of him trying to overcome his faults and be a more responsible person. And, of course, aside from Charlie's story there's everyone else's, and they're all pretty happy, so overall I wouldn't call it a depressing book either. (After all, people die in Little Women and Little Men, too.) Anyway, all that to say, I think both books are as good as their prequels, and I really think you would like them if you read them. An Old Fashioned Girl is a good example of how Louisa May Alcott deals with her characters once they're grown up. If you liked that one, I really don't think you could be disappointed in Jo's Boys or Rose in Bloom. But, of course, I understand if you still don't want to read them. So no pressure or anything.

      You liked Nat and Tommy? Oh, I agree. They're both very sweet boys. (Do you know who Nat marries when he grows up? If you read Jo's Boys...okay, sorry. I said no pressure, didn't I? Haha!)

      Hmm...yes, Tom Sawyer is a fun character, but I guess I never liked him in the same way as Tommy Bangs and Tommy Traddles. He's a might different...though he's totally got the mischievous side, that's for sure! Haha!

      Oh, would you? Well then, maybe I will write a post about Tommy Traddles sometime. :) Thanks for your favorable vote on the subject. I should reread David Copperfield, too. I can't remember the last time I read it.

      ~Miss March

  3. This has definitely happened to me before. I'm trying to think of some examples, but what mainly pops to mind is Wodehouse stories. Oh, and the Moffat books. Have you read those? They're really for kids, but the writing is just so warm and REAL. I wuvs them so much. Part of childhood, and all that. Just darling.

    1. I've never read any stories by Wodehouse. (He's the one who wrote Jeeves and Wooster, right?) I've heard a lot about the Jeeves and Wooster books (and the TV show) so I'd really like to read those sometime. Is there a particular one I should start with?

      I've never heard of the Moffat books. What are those about? Books for kids are some of the best. After all, Louisa May Alcott's book were written for children and I love those!

      Mmm...yes! Childhood! Isn't it wonderful to have such happy memories from growing up?

      Thank you so much for commenting, Rosie! I like getting your comments! Very much. :)

      ~Miss March

    2. Yes, he wrote the Jeeves and Wooster stories. They are amazing. I would recommend starting with the short stories, where we get "introduced" to Bertie and Jeeves. You can find those in collections like "The World of Jeeves." And then after that, if you like, you can read the novels, which were written later. They really are masterpieces.

      The Moffat books are about all about the Moffat family. They live in Connecticut during World War I. Their father is dead and Mama is a seamstress. The stories are very lighthearted, all about real life during that time and the small struggles and triumphs that the family have. There are four books, in order: The Moffats, Rufus M., The Middle Moffat, and The Moffat Museum. I really love them :)

    3. Thank you, Rosie! These sound like the kind of books I would really enjoy! I'm getting so many ideas now, I really need to write out an official book list and start checking them off. :)

  4. I had to write: YOUR HEADER. I LOVE IT. :-D

    1. Aww. Thank you so much, Naomi! :) I'm still trying to get the hang of doing headers. I've tried making picture collages, but I can't get them to look I had to fall back on a simpler approach. :P I'm so glad you like it, though!

  5. I love the new design, Miss March. So pretty!

    Enjoyed reading your post, as always. Traddles is the best, isn't he?? That's a really good example. Another Traddles example is that he would always be drawing skeletons on his school-work (because that's all he could draw! Lol). Skeletons or maybe just skulls, I don't remember. :P I really like the Kidnapped example, too – for whatever reason, that argument was always my favorite scene in the book.

    I can think of lots of examples from the James Herriot Poor James! He never gets away with anything. Like the time he wrote a thank-you note to Tricki Woo in hopes of getting yummy stuff from Mrs. Pumphrey in return, and is found out (and laughed at mercilessly) by Tristan and Siegfried. I can see myself wanting to do the same thing, only I don't think I would risk the humiliation. :P

    Hmm! Finding some interesting book titles in the comments here. Might have to look up some Wodehouse and the Moffat books. :)

    ~ Crista

    1. Thank you so much, Crista! I'm glad you like it! :)

      Yes, Traddles is such a dear character! And his habit of drawing skeletons because that was the easiest thing to draw? Hahaha! So cute. I need to reread David Copperfield and then do a post about Traddles; because he deserves to have an entire post devoted to him, don't you think?

      I know. Isn't that such a good scene? It just goes to prove how well Robert Louis Stevenson understood people if so many of us can relate to what he wrote.

      Oh, the James Herriot books. I should read those sometime. Poor James, indeed. Things always go wrong for him somehow. And then Tristan and Siegfried are such unfeeling rascals that they only make matters worse. Haha. I'm with you in regards to "not risking the humiliation." It would definitely be a temptation to try and get more yummy stuff from Mrs. Pumphrey, but I'd rather do without than be embarrassed. Heehee. (You're making me want to watch the TV show. Maybe we should start that up again on Tuesday nights.)

      ~Miss March

    2. I love Traddles. :) An entire post devoted to Traddles is, in my opinion, a capital idea. :) :)

      You should definitely read the James Herriot books, when you have the time (by the way, I own them and you can borrow them whenever you feel like it). The show is hilarious, but the books are better (why are the books always better? Is it simply written in the fabric of reality that the books are always better? Because they always are!).

      We should compile a list of fun stuff to watch on Tuesdays...I feel like we've had some good ideas recently and now I can't remember them all. Oh well! It'd be fun to watch All Creatures Great & Small again. :)

    3. Oh, good. If you think it's a capital idea, then I'll definitely have to keep that on my list for future posts. :)

      Yes, I should. I started the first one once, but I never finished it. What I really need to do is write out a list of books I want to read and then just start checking them off. Because I'm getting SO many ideas and it's hard to keep them all straight. I'm glad you have the books because then I don't have to worry about doing the whole library thing. :) (I don't know why it is exactly, but that is so true! The books are usually always better than the movies! It's rare to find one that isn't.)

      Yes, yes. We need to compile a list. Then we won't have all the wasted time beforehand, but will know exactly what we're doing. ;)

  6. From your list, I've only read Pride and Prejudice--the scene you highlighted is so cute!
    And your new blog design is gorgeous!!! I love the photo you used for your header. :)

  7. What a great idea! I've stumbled upon a few of such passages as well (can't remember any of them right now though) and it just make me stop a moment and just relish in the brilliantness of it all.

    "Which was excatly the rude silly speech of a boy of ten" - Brilliant, and so true! I remember loving that quote when reading the book myself.
    And that argument between Mrs Bennet and the young Lucas is so relatable, who can say ithey haven't at some point had such a completely pointless argument?
    As always it is a delight to read your posts

    1. Thank you so much, Rose! :) And yes, exactly. "The brilliantness of it all." That is so true. I don't know how people can manage to write like that, but I'm so glad there are some who can, because I really appreciate their work. ;)

      Aww. Thank you. I'm so glad you find my posts interesting. That is so encouraging. :)

      ~Miss March

  8. Great selections! Yep, that happens to me a lot when reading;) And that part of P&P really stood out to me when I was rereading it recently! I like what you said: it's just so "ridiculously normal."

    And your header is BEAUTIFUL! :D

    1. That part stood out to you, too? How jolly! :D

      Thank you! I'm so pleased that you like it. It took me a while to get up the courage to change it, but I'm glad I did. It's fun to try something new. :)

  9. Another great part from David Copperfield! You can really find them!

    P.S. Sorry I'm commenting on old posts.

    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      P.S. Oh, don't apologize! I don't mind AT ALL! I love getting comments on old post. And it was great to hear from you. Thank you! :D