REFLECTIONS ON CHARACTERS
In my new novel Jeanne returns to the farm to go to the one-room school with her cousins, Sally and Johnny.
OK, I have her out of Albany and back to the farm. Monday she will go to school. Who will be there? That has occupied my morning. I sat with my journal and pen putting sixteen children in grades one through six. There are brothers and sisters, good students, not-so-good students, and have characteristics, I hope, that will cause scraps between them.
I envision some of them looking at Jeanne and deciding she is different because she knows things they don’t. Of course, the reverse is also true. They may think she’s “dumb” because she doesn’t know a lot about country life – only what she learned in the two months of the previous summer. She may think them strange for not knowing about riding city buses and lots of big stores. Some of them may never have been as far as Binghamton, a city thirty miles away.
A set of twins has Italian parents, who sometimes speak Italian to one another. Others make think that makes them enemies because the U.S. is at war with Italy. Jeanne’s friend Carrie has Italian parents. Her parents speak Italian when they don’t want the kids to understand what they are saying. Hearing other languages is not strange to Jeanne.
What will Jeanne do?
I think I’ll have to wait until she arrives at school on Monday. Then perhaps she will tell me what she thinks and I will hear what she says.
That is my hope.