Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Types and stereotypes

I just finished reading Ian McDonald's River of Gods this morning, and I'm wondering about The Indian Mother. Specifically, it's hard for me to tell, since I'm not immersed in that culture, whether Parvati's mother in River of Gods is a common type or a common stereotype. Is it like the "big quiet guy with hidden depths," who pops up all the time among real life Scandosotans? Is it showing up all the freakin' time because that's how people really behave in that culture? Or is it just that the author (and some other authors, too) didn't feel that he had the time or didn't want to take the time to make the character more of an individual?

scottjames has a Jewish grandmother from New York. She's a retired gym teacher. This isn't the only thing that makes me wary of types vs. stereotypes, but it's certainly on the list.

I'm not sure there was room in this novel -- which had something like nine point of view characters to begin with -- to make a plot-motivating spear-carrier into an actual character. But it seems like it's been the mother in that role a lot, and it's got me thinking about how to keep redshirts from falling into stereotypes we'd never tolerate in main characters. Anybody else want to share wisdom with me on this one? I also get frustrated when really minor characters are overdeveloped in order to make a point about diversity in human life and/or relationships, so perhaps there's just no pleasing me.

I enjoyed River of Gods more in the middle than in the beginning or ending, and I'm still frustrated that rysmiel took the time to talk about McDonald books with me and then Forbidden Planet didn't have any but this, which R. hadn't read yet. One might think they didn't run their business with me as the center of the universe or something.

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