Bildungsroman Novel are ones that represent the evolution of a personality and character in a gradual pace and process that explore every phase of that development. Often, the depiction of the progression is such that it leads to great insight about human nature and condition. Sometimes, as in the following texts, they also lead to such aspects of a personality that leaves a permanent imprint on the readers; as the readers often find that the exploredareas are often features of their very own nature that they often remain deliberate aloof about. Then again, very strange personality traits also are observed often that are usually not to be found. However, the most important element that such pieces of work offer is an understanding of the background, reasons and salient drives that lead people to be so in the first place. `
Martin Waring’s evolution has been given a little background on the past but more on what he has become in a vivid manner. This also is an ambitious technique of involving readers to a different extent. However, the route of his evolution is, indeed, perceptive. With a failed father whose half sensed activities made him go through brutality since childhood, he becomes a reflection of the same failed ghost. He is a guard, at the outset of the novel, of dead relics and is in love with the same dead entities the most. He is a person dried of all affections and commitments, and the worst distance he has is with his own son; just as his father was distant with him. The lack of commitment he encountered in his process of growing up is reflected in his random sexual expedition that just crosses his path and he succumbs. In the ironic process of reconciling with a insensitive childhood, he simply flows with the failure he inherits less and nurtures more. He keeps ignoring his bullied and obese son who seeks resort in gruesome video games and self pity. His daughter expires finding resort to ecstasy and eventually to death through an overdose. All he and his wife can do is set out on an insane minute journey of blaming each other and, then with a failure in that even, putting the blame on whatever possible. His son is up more with the self pity and struggle in his immediate settings all the time. There is clear reflection of the year long suffering in his raging trance.
The character of Waring hovers across a labyrinth of torturous childhood and its angst out of which he is never able to return psychologically. His physical state is in present time of the lot context but his soul lingers among the memories of the past. Through the literary technique employed where readers are left clueless often as to what time and place of the plot they are at that moment, the very lack of sense of time in the continuum of the life – plot that Waring feels is made clearly felt by the readers. With simple language and handful metaphors only, the complete perception of his life is vividly filtered with the subjective touch with the deliberate intention of audience to be perfectly aware of this partial exposure; so that they exert more effort in discovering the personality termed Waring.
The development of Waring is hardly any advancement of a character at all in true sense of the idea. There is only change of time and context but the personality of Waring does not really develop much of its own. Inside, he still remains as much a demented and helpless a child as is his son at the present context of the novel. The outburst of anger at the latter point, after the death of the daughter, is but an anger at the chaos that dominated his own childhood, and one that has penetrated into the lives of his own children through he himself. The desperation is that of making sense out of the brooding chaos, and at repeated failure in doing so. While the anguish delves deep enough into his human condition and psyche, his progression does not compliment the number of years he has passed for reaching his present age and condition in life.
The life of Duddy Kravitz is dominated by the mundane thirst for the possession of land and property, as taught by his grandfather and people from his childhood surroundings. Assuming this as the sole purpose of his life, Duddy becomes just another reflection of the same personality as his ancestors in acquiring or trying to acquire land. In his quest of securing land property, he sets out with working for uncle Benjy; a wealthy clothe manufacturer sharing very little of Duddy’s view of property and power. So, he favours Duddy’s brother Lenny more in his endeavour of pursuing medicine as his discipline of study. So, Duddy keeps looking for his own opportunities. On his way to a new job at Ste, in a hotel named Agathe, he discovers a lake and immediately recognizes its value in near future as a site for a resort; his first choice of site to quench his thirst. His entrepreneur mind sets out to seek opportunities of generating money for it. Soon, he launches a company to produce bar- mitzvah films. Duddy seeks to engage the legendary Dingleman in his company, listening to whose rag- to – riches stories, he has been brought up. Instead of being able to engage Dingleman, he himself rather gets manipulated by him in delivering a package of heroine across border of Canada and US. Duddy happens to meet Virgil and generates plans to involve this amicable and trustworthy American in his endeavours in future. In Montreal, he opens an office and his new land empire begins as the Lac Sint- Pierre land is available for sale. He also involves his girlfriend Yvette in the office.
After the mishap between Yvette and Mr. Friar, he suddenly resigns and Virgil is brought to the scenario; as the travelling projectionist for Duddy’s new movie distribution business. Soon, during an epileptic attack while driving, Virgil is paralyzed downward from his waist. Yvette blames Duddy for the accident as he knew about his ailment and still employed him for the job and takes Virgil to Agathe and takes care of him there, while Duddy is left with everything alone to deal with all in home production and overseas. Meanwhile, he rebuffs ill Uncle Benjy’s advances to keep meeting more frequently on his final days, as he came to know of a terminal disease he was suffering from. His eventual death comes as a stirring nervous breakdown to Duddy. He loses his business being aloof from clients for a week and is bankrupt eventually, left with only the land by Yvette’s name. He inherits his uncle’s mansion and invites bothYvette and Virgil to live with him. To acquire the last bit of land across St. Pierre, he exhausts all of his remaining contacts and accumulates money and forges cheque from Virgil’s chequebook, being desperate to secure the last piece of land of the empire against Dingleman. Yvette realizes and informs his grandfather of the way in which Duddy acquired the land. He is embarrassed at Duddy’s actions and both Yvette and Virgil moves out of his house abandoning Duddy forever.
There is little personal distinctiveness that Duddy develops in the complete course of the plot. As a child, born among entrepreneurs, he is given a mundane philosophy of securing wealth and power as his own. He follows the instructions given to him to his teens, which is understandable. However, things do not remain same after reaching personal maturation point of age. It is up to a person which path of life he wants to choose as his own after a certain age. Duddy could easily opt for any life with any purpose in mind after his maturity set him free. It is he himself who does not seem inclined to assume an individuality of his own. He follows on the footsteps shown by his grandfather. In his mindless pursuit of power and property, he manipulates over anything or anyone who crosses the path of his life In love, relationships, and everything else, he chooses to utilize over others to ensure the purchase of land and financial assets. He uses Yvette as he was considered a minor and could not really afford to get into a deal. His interest in Dingleman was due to his power and genius in entrepreneurship. He despises his uncle as he took little interest in Duddy’s plans of financial pursuits. He refuses his companionship to him on his last days even, but he never hesitates to take the mansion as an inherited asset as it was a piece of land establishment. Despite his hand in the accident of Virgil whose illness was not unknown to him, there is very little repentance or even compassion observed in him. He, again, does not hesitate to forge Virgil’s signature and use his cheque to acquire the last piece of land available, on the sly. Love, affection, commitment, integrity, trustworthiness, and all other such relational sentiments seem to have been overpowered by his thirst for power and land property; which leaves him empty as a person.
In the sense of a legacy, he remains just a shadow of his ancestors and one of the ancestors also witness the ultimate fate of being so in his lifetime (grandfather). If the personal development trend is considered, Duddy remains at the same level hovering around his love for land and property. That is the only love there seems to be present in his life. He is devoid of any sense of self or individuality, and it is only his lifelong pursuit of power that seems to define the very existence of his being. He is probably the most bleak and static character in the entire novel; though he is the central one.
The development of Jeanette’s character is depicted with very special and vivid depth. Being an orphan, she is adopted by an evangelist whose entire life consists of only her Christian beliefs and services with the Church. She adopts Jeanette as a sexless child whom she wants to bring up with the sole purpose of making a devout servant of Christ; a very understandable aim but one that entails a lot of personal restriction from what we know as a normal world. Jeanette is brought up with extreme Christian evangelistic beliefs and teachings that interpret life to her from the only point of view it is supposed to; a Christian one. Losing her hearing capacity at an age of seven, Jeanette is brought up happily with the ideologies her foster mother teaches her; until the vantage point of her direct and active contact with the outside world and consequent disillusionment.
Her encounter with the outside world stirs her personal intellectual senses of realism and individuality violently. She responds to her own personality and intellect. Ideas about relationship with men, men themselves, the worldly life, passion and the like all begin to work in her mind and she interprets things in her own terms, for the first time in her life. With a shock, and brave and honest interest, she find out that she is failing to agree with the notions and interpretations of Church to a great extent. Soon it reflects in her words and actions as well. The greatest manifestation of her changes is by the phase when she falls for Melanie and sleeps with the lady who gives her refuge when she tries to hide after fighting and condemning the congregation at church about her relationship with Melanie.
Her being exiled by everyone marks the phase when she excels her individualism to completion. She undergoes professional experiences as ice cream salesperson and others such that have the roles related directly to dealing with people dwelling outside the church or evangelist community. That is, her orientation to a normal life reaches its complete maturation.
Her return to her own community as a teacher and preacher confirms her development of personal potential. The development of her freedom is confirmed in her quitting the church instead of repenting her affair with Katy. She eventually grows up to be an independent woman capable of making her own life- choices against all communal odds.
The route of her development is shown with brilliant vivid perfection and is one that also feels brave but credible. To the end, Jeanette is depicted as a capable individual who alone is able to soothe and calm the riot- like situation between congregation and men at Blackwell. Despite her long starvation, her immediate kindness to the other suffering ones confirm her kind and compassionate nature. Her preaching, despite her difference with church ideologies,remains balanced and effectivein all Christian sense. Eventually, all her actionsand transformation are justified through the weakening of her foster mother’s extremity of evangelistic faith. The mother remains devout but fails to remain completely same to the life- preachings the Church teaches, after a lifetime of evangelist experience. Jeanette’s personal evolution travels full circle back to where it all begins and justifies the changed person she is through the depiction of her own characteristics and other circumstantial signs in the same surroundings. Her evolution partly includes that of others who have been around since her childhood and have been a part of the evangelism that defines almost half of her young phase. It is such depiction of the evolution of her character through which the entire plot seems to find its revolving pace.
The character depiction in the three novels above is extraordinarily insightful. They provide what and how one should not be rather than how one should be. The only exception is the character development of Jeanette. The characters provide very insightful peep into the psychological dimensions of human beings. The novels explore how the forces like the surroundings, family situation and values, priorities of the guardians in life, the opportunities that present themselves at different points, and the like; shape the personality of individuals, either by setting them on wheels or by holding them behind perpetually. They demonstrate how, sometimes, one’s past and present are not reconcilable and how trying so is not even worth it. It is evident in the stories that individuality is the key feature that defines one in the course of life. Individuality is also the only legacy that one might be able to pass on to the next generation as a guideline to living their lives. The novels promote how it is imperative that the coming generations should rectify the mistakes done by the previous and direct them for a better course of action and perception of life. The choices made by the protagonists here are ones that teach us a lot about proper decision making at proper points of time. Most importantly, all of the novels above teach how it is important to have a self image as an entity separate from own past and predecessors, and how having that defines the course of one’s life for the better. The characters in the novels here are very potential windows to the individual entity of a person from psychological, social and moral points of view.