Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thief Part 2: This World We Live In is Full of Fiction

"My mother used to let me throw wishes into the river. I'd scribble them on tiny pieces of paper and cry as I watched them float away. She'd put her head near my ear . . whisper softly . . tell me how the seagulls would keep my wishes from drowning . . carry them off to the end of the world. One day all the wishes would come back to me on shooting stars." Thief page 18

As children, our parents give us answers to our questions and we believe in them. If we're told that thunder is only God bowling, we believe that until we're told otherwise by someone else we trust. This concept was one that I was thinking about a lot while working on Thief. Our way of perceiving the world is shaped in those early years and by those early stories. A great example of this is any religious text. Those stories are used to shape a view of the world. Later in life, we often question those perceptions, but in childhood, we truly see the world through the lens that is given to us. So what if that lens was blurry, or cracked, or tinted? How would that affect our view of the world? This was the question I had in mind while creating Elizabeth's character.

Elizabeth's mother in the story is someone with obvious mental illness and I wanted to examine how that might play out in this idea of shaped perception. The stories her mother told her would be filtered through her illness but Elizabeth wouldn't have had any other frame of reference, therefore, she would believe in them. At the time during which the story takes place, Elizabeth is old enough to realize the fiction in her mother's stories, but the impact of them is still woven into her personality. She struggles to see reality in the way the other characters around her do. This becomes a source of friction between her and the people she cares about. 

By the end of the novel, she never truly gives up these beliefs. They've warped, changed, and evolved, but they are still there. That's because I don't think we ever completely abandon those things we learn at a very young age and I don't think we should. Those are the ingredients that give us all a unique view of the world. It's what makes the world a more interesting place...something more mysterious than just scientific facts and mathematics.

"I never liked making wishes in fountains too much. It takes longer for them to come true . . at least that's what I always thought when I was little. My mother said those wishes had to wait their turn . . sit there and rust until the fountain emptied its water into the ocean . . that it could take days or even years . . that only the fountain could tell when it was full.

I never wished for anything big or important in a fountain.

Now I dig through my pocket and pull out a quarter. I close it tight in my hands until my palms get sweaty. I figure without the river close by I'll have to get used to fountains . . even for important things." Thief page 223-224

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