TheAdventuresofSam

Thinking fiction Why we like socially disadvantaged characters

Thinking fiction: Why we like socially disadvantaged characters…

I’m forever on a quest to discover why I like what I like. Join me on a foray into ‘types’ of fictional characters and why we as readers like them.

Who or what are socially disadvantaged characters?

Socially disadvantaged characters are those who are oppressed by their society. They have little power to change the (sometimes horrific) world they live in. They are often children, poor, slaves or people of a marginalised race.

For all this, these socially disadvantaged are often the heroes of their tales. In ‘rags-to-riches’ narratives the reason for this is obvious, but there are many other stories where they play central parts – so why are they so popular?

Examples of socially disadvantaged characters

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Why I like… The Call of the Wild

I read The Call of the Wild bit by bit during “reading time” in Year 4. It is a relatively short novel by Jack London, published in 1903, but set in the 1890s Canadian Gold Rush. It tells the story of a pet St. Bernard-Scotch Shepherd dog, stolen from his pampered home and put to work as a sleigh dog in a brutal world where the toughest survive and everyone else, whether man or animal, perishes.

It had such an impact on me when I first read it that I have been almost afraid to read it since, and so these reflections are 12 years old.

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Why I like… The Adventures of Sam

The Adventures of Sam was  a 1997 animated Australian children’s television serial consisting of 13 consecutive episodes, featuring an escaped convict boy named Sam, his magpie Swoop, and his friend Bridie. Set in the 1850s, it follows his journey around the world to find his lost brother and obtain freedom. Along the way he makes friends, becomes entangled in several ‘historic’ moments and narrowly avoids capture by the Australian authorities. Each episode ends in a cliff-hanger, and the serials tagline was “From Sydney to Singapore and beyond!”

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