Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about choices recently, probably because I just finished Matched, a novel that seems in some ways to be the child of 1984 and The Hunger Games. (Or rather, that's how I perceive its literary lineage. After finishing, I thought it had similarly dystopic elements to THG and 1984's insistence on the importance of controlling language--albeit more subtlely than 1984.)

Complete book review, by the way, will be forthcoming on the book blog. Tomorrow or the day after.

Anyway, one of the takeaway messages from the novel (unsurprisingly) revolved around the idea of making choices, i.e. there was an implication that we are defined by the sum of the choices we make.

One of the difficulties I have with books such as these is that if there are a limited range of choices a character can make, can that character only have a limited range? And what about choices that are neither good nor bad? Not all choices have a lasting moral impact.

Having grown up in an environment where I've been told that we are to respect and love people even if we don't expect and love their choices, I struggle with this conflation between character and choice. It's too easy. Too tidy. And ironically enough, entirely too complicated when put into practice.

I suppose that's an innate difficulty of assuming that any one element of a life affects character: we are all a conglomeration of choices, habits, and personality traits that we were just born with. Our interactions with others help define us in small way. There's no such things as a real-life, simply motivated human.

There can't be.