Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clubs, Groups, Organizations and Memberships in Character Development

This area defines and reflects character choices. When a person joins a club, group or organization, they are making a statement about their beliefs and what they hold important in their lives. A member of the ACLU is a person who is interested in causes that concern the legal rights of American citizens. They are willing to take some very unpopular stands and they defend the rights of people to live within their constitutional rights, even if those people are extremely unpopular. Members of the KKK and other white supremacy groups have power issues. Members of the KKK believe they are protecting the threatened rights of a superior white race, fundamentalist Christian beliefs and family values. They don’t think of themselves as racists. They think they are right.

Members of Sororities and Fraternities are fundamentally similar, they feel comfortable together, they have shared values and go on to have shared experiences. Rushing is all about finding freshmen similar in every possible way to the fraternity and sorority members already living together.

Dan Brown built his book “The Lost Symbol” around The Masons, a fraternal order that is steeped in secret rites and metaphysical beliefs. The story is particularly interesting because the prime character Robert Langdon is not himself a Mason nor does he subscribe to many rumors about the organization. Peter Solomon – Langdon’s friend is a very important Mason and has a Masonic Ring that figures strategically in the story. It’s an excellent use of a group and its trappings.

Organizations flit in and out of the Harry Potter series. In Book 5 when Harry and friends form a club to circumvent Dolores Umbridge’s deficient teaching of Defense Against the Dark Arts Class, by forming a group called the DA (which the call Dumbledore’s Army), Umbridge counters by banning gatherings of three or more people. The DA worries about not being able to meet, while other students worry about not being able to meet for the Gobstones Club, and everyone realizes that Quidditch Teams fall under the same ruling. The handling of this issue is interesting because she mentions only concern about the Gobstones Club, but by mentioning them implies that there are other clubs that remain unidentified. Were I writing a term paper about the Harry Potter series, I might ask what clubs do you think were active at Hogwarts and what did each of them do?

How does the author use clubs or groups in the story? What kinds of organizations does this character like? What does the membership, or refusal to be a member, say about the character? How does the character’s group-attitude conflict or agree with the attitudes of others in the play or story? What does group attitude say about the character? Is this character an active or inactive member? An office holder? A rebel? Does he always wear a club ring, pin, or key chain? If yes, does he play with it or use it in some way to underscore his character? Is he late with dues? Only go for the parties? Try to be the life of the party? Try to be the club hero? Is he the club funnyman? What two or three mannerisms convey club membership? Have these mannerisms changed or not changed over time? What about club memberships as an employee or employer? What is this person’s relationship to colleagues and significant others as a result of club memberships?

No comments:

Post a Comment