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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Adventurers are big kids.

   
Author Topic: Adventurers are big kids.
Natej11
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So I was thinking about all the times you see adventurers in stories, and it suddenly struck me how often the protagonist and his companions share characteristics most commonly seen in children.

Just to list a few. For the purposes of this topic I'll use Harrison Ford examples:

Fearlessness in situations where they should be frozen in fear: Think Han Solo charging the stormtroopers. Most children are fearless because they either don't understand the full dangers involved in what they're doing, or they're so focused on their task that such risks don't occur to them. Adventurers require a certain amount of insanity for good storytelling, because what they take in stride would have most normal people fleeing in terror or going comatose.

Disproportionate fear for irrational things that can't be changed and often don't exist: Think Indiana Jones and his loathing for snakes of any kind. While rational to fear poisonous snakes, his phobia takes it a step too far. Human nature is to fear the unknown, and most children get around that by either not giving it much thought or by keeping quiet about it. But when they do express their fears, it's usually impossible to completely reassure them. An example would be a nephew who, while driving with us through a wooded area at night, jumped at every silhouette, demanding to know what it was, and identifying faraway shapes as fearsome creatures with emphatic insistence.

Banter: Like children, adventurers engage in a fair amount of ribbing, and more than their fair share of non-constructive criticism. Think Han Solo in the garbage chute. Imperials chasing them, no idea where they are or even if they can get out, and he takes a few moments to mock Leia for her decision to lead them down the chute. Most interaction you see between adventurers in stories is very similar to how children interact in social settings.

Greed/generosity: Children are very interested in treasures and luxuries. They place great emphasis on any new find, and remain excited about it long after everyone else has stopped thinking about it. They can be very reluctant to share their possessions if they think their supply is finite, especially if there's no grownup around to prod them towards doing so. At the same time, children can be pragmatically openhanded and surprisingly generous at times. Think a child proud of some treat he doesn't usually get, or a new game, who shares it with a friend to increase his enjoyment and gain some bragging rights. Han Solo's constant focus on the wealth he'd get from rescuing Leia inexplicably shifts at the last moment when he swoops in to save the day. Such abrupt changes of opinion are rare among most adults.

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So those are a few I was thinking of. Anyone have any other examples or ideas to add?

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Natej11
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Persistence: When children believe they have a goal worth working towards, they'll keep on going in the face of any frustration or opposition, long after most adults would have walked away. Coupled with the ability to endure incredible aggravation in the pursuit of the goal is the willingness to completely walk away from a project after it's complete if they have no reason to remain.

After all, heroes may devote a long time to a quest, may risk life, fortune, and limb to defeat the enemy, but at the end they rarely settle down with the townspeople and enjoy the fruits of the peace and prosperity they've brought. One of the hero's biggest jobs is to ride away into the sunset after all is said and done, in search of new quests.

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Robert Nowall
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How 'bout "unattached"? If any of these adventurers have, say, wives or children, or mothers or siblings, or even regular jobs, they appear only briefly in the storyline.

The only Indiana Jones movie I watched the whole way through was the one with his father as a fellow adventurer (Sean Connery, I think), but it makes clear there's no mother around, even from I. Jones's earliest days.

Adventurers might lack these things, but real people sure have them...

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Crystal Stevens
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Phobias can be ingrained for life. My husband is very much afraid of heights, has been all his life, and this will never change. Some people loathe spiders the same way and snakes as well. It might be a small thing, but I loved to eat Alaskan crab legs and now can't force myself to eat them ever since I puked them up just once. Phobias happen and can last a lifetime. I thought the snake phobia with Indy made him more human and not childish in any respect.

Henry Jones Sr. mentions Indy's mother in "The Last Crusade" and gave the impression that she had died early in Indy's life. I'm guessing maybe when Indy was just a baby, which would account for her not being in or even mentioned much in the movies. My sister-in-law died a month after my husband and I were wed. We rarely speak of her, and I never got a chance to know her on a personal level. I would imagine the same thing applies to Indy and his father. It's probably very painful for Henry to talk about it, and Indy may never have known her.

Han had a very good reason for wanting wealth. He had a price on his head. Bounty hunters wanted to kill him. But if he could get enough to pay off Jabba, he wouldn't have the bounty hanging over him anymore. Heck, if money would save my life, you bet I'd be finding a way to get it.

When most people get upset about a bad situation, they almost always blame the one responsible for that situation. Adults do it all the time, even me. I've even got blamed for things others had to put up with. Blunders happen, and those responsible usually get the backlash. It's human nature and not limited to just children.

No, I don't think of these things as childish at all. Almost all the mentioned incidents involving Han and Indy come from deep rooted facts that make them what they are. Adults face these kinds of problems all the time. On the surface they may appear childish, but dig deeper and you'll find adults usually have very good reasons for what may seem childish to us.

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extrinsic
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I suppose in the sense that kids like toys, big kids like big toys, play is a socially-driven imitation of adult behaviors. I don't know that I've observed play that wasn't directly related to learning adult behaviors, nor taken part as a child in play that I don't now realize was, in fact, imitation of adult behaviors.

A wide gap spans between child-like and childish behavior categories, which are wide spectrums themselves. Read child-like as fun recreational, harmless learning; childish as selfish, harmful demands.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me" (1 Corinthians 13:11). Sounds like a firm decision that cannot possibly be that absolute in practice. Adults have greater pressures and worries than children, consequently needing recreational activities, play, to mitigate stressors. Nor can adults of any age or in any society fully stop imposing selfish demands upon others. Humans are social beings, and as social beings need personal interactions, struggles, trial and error failures as much as successes, and have conveniently self-serving, selfish episodes in order to thrive vitally, individually, and collectively.

Emotional maturity is not a process that happens by date ranges, osmosis, happenstance chance, or from rite of passage rituals. A person's emotional age can become fixed and immutable, stuck, at various age phases depending on identity traumas or interposing belief systems. Conversely, a person may continue to mature in fits and spurts up and unto death.

Actually, emotional age ranging depends on a subjective criteria that is widely open to interpretation. Who gets to determine, This is mature? Mark Twain famously said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." Exquisite verbal irony.

In a broad sense, not limited to age or maturation phase, maturity is about sincerely appreciating a social being's responsibilities, obligations, and duties to a society's greater good. Noble, heroic selfless acts for a greater good as opposed to taking for granted and favoring social being's self-serving rights and privileges.

I don't know of many people of any age, if any, myself included, who fully and sincerely appreciate that distinction. Self-serving seems more prevalent than selfless, albeit a degree of self-serving is crucial for survival and to be able to contribute meaningfully to society's greater good, thus some self-serving can in a sense lead to selfless acts.

Fictional screenplay or other media characters play make believe for entertainment purposes. They pose as larger-than-life, meaning in this sense exaggerated conflations of desirable and admirable behaviors or the obverse, for spectacle purposes. Spectacle is attractive. Spectacle is what entertainment is about. But see the wires, the plywood behind the marquee lights, the invisible and selectively subjective lens from which spectacle is packaged for consumption.

[ August 22, 2012, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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