In Character.

Cookie Monster interviewed on NPR. It’s as delightful as you would hope.

The “In Character” feature on NPR got me thinking . . . who is my favorite fictional character? Though it can be from literature, film, television, or song, they specifically want it to be American, so my first thought, Anne Shirley, isn’t an option. I mulled it over. Lord Peter Wimsey, for his humor and the way he uses it to deflect his true feelings, also isn’t an option. Neither is Elizabeth Bennet, though I always think she is just a little too clever to be my friend. In fact, most of my childhood favorites aren’t eligible: Bilbo Baggins (though I think he’s more admirable than affecting), Lucy Pevensie (now I think she’s kind of annoying, to be honest), Neville Longbottom (I didn’t read him when I was a kid, but I would take him over Harry Potter any day of the week). I admire Laura Ingalls and Jo March, but there’s also a distance between us in how tomboyish they are. I love a lot of TV shows, but none of the women I can think of seem quite well-rounded enough: Rory and Lorelai Gilmore, Monica Geller, Veronica Mars, Lindsay Weir, Angela Chase. Now, Claire Huxtable, maybe, for the way that she works, parents, and can kick your butt at the same time. A lot of my favorite movie characters seem a little too old and cosmopolitan: Kathleen Kelly, Sabrina Fairchild. Maybe I could go the obvious route and choose Atticus or Scout Finch, but though I admire that book more than I can say, I wouldn’t choose those characters (though I plan to reread it this year, so maybe I will change my mind). I can’t decide if Mary Russell is American enough. She’s anther who’s probably a little too smart to be my friend.

In the end, I think my favorite fictional character is Vicky Austin. Perhaps since Madeleine L’Engle felt so close to Vicky, there’s something more real and fallible about her than other characters. I know what it’s like to need time alone, to lose yourself in a book. I know what it’s like to feel as if you don’t measure up, to feel awkward and unsure. And I know what it’s like to have big questions about life and death and suffering. Madeleine L’Engle, through Vicky, taught me that those questions are okay, that they aren’t incompatible with a life of faith. It’s because of Vicky that my favorite Psalm is 121. I still, like Vicky, am learning what it means to be me.

I do really like cookies, though. So maybe I should have just gone with Cookie Monster.

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