Which Character Do You Prefer?

Use this forum to discuss the May 2018 Book of the Month, "The Sword Swallower and a Chico Kid" by Gary Robinson
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meadhbh
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Which Character Do You Prefer?

Post by meadhbh » 02 May 2018, 09:58

This book follows the lives of two very different characters - Duke, a sword-swallower, and Gary Robinson, a college graduate. Which of these two characters did you prefer and why? Whose story did you find more compelling?

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Post by P0tt3ry » 03 May 2018, 17:35

Duke was always in touch with his demons. He understood the risks and consequences of his actions, but still made the choices he did. I liked this flawed character because he took ownership of his choices.

Gary, well, Gary didn't make choices. Gary just hedonistically drifts from one bad decision to another. He turns his life around but we aren't witnesses to that transformative stage of his life--just to the wild years and the events that occur decades later.

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Post by Uche Balogun » 04 May 2018, 04:57

Definitely Duke. Gary seems fascinating and interesting at first, but all his shenanigans get old. Duke has a more mature approach to life.

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Post by Jgideon » 04 May 2018, 05:01

Although I do not like that both characters ended up being alcoholics, Duke is more interesting compared to Gary. He does not do things in an aimless manner-he always knows what he is getting himself into, unlike Gary who seems to have lost it all.

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Post by Rattyhatty » 04 May 2018, 05:14

Duke, definitely. Duke as a character is much more interesting then Gary. I find that Duke seems more realistic to me than Gary. More relatable. Duke has a very strong motivation while Gary seems to lack it.

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Post by KLafser » 04 May 2018, 11:13

On the surface, I really preferred the story around Duke. I agree with the comment that Gary aimlessly wanders without any real development but later in the book, I wonder if we're only exposed to his oblivion because there were points where others in the community recognized or characterized him and he was surprised. I think I preferred Duke because I got to "know" him, I didn't get the same investment in Gary.

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Post by holsam_87 » 04 May 2018, 18:32

Duke was more interesting to me as a character, while Gary seemed more of a rich kid that could do what he wanted. Duke just intended to live a better life, but it didn't work out like that.
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Post by Tbunde5 » 04 May 2018, 20:41

Duke is interesting because he accepts himself the way he is, with all his flaws. While he does have an inner voice that tells him he should change, he knows that he won’t. And he is okay with that. Gary, on the other hand, can’t seem to find who he is or his place in the world. He seeks the contentment that Duke has found but lacks the strength to grab it. I think the two are mirror images. It also explains Gary’s heartbreak at Duke’s death. In the end, Gary has an idyllic life. And I think he credits that to Duke. So Duke is the hero, and Gary if the foil. It is the opposite of what society accepts.

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Post by CatInTheHat » 04 May 2018, 20:45

I don't think I can say that I liked one of them more than the other. They were different from each other but also shared many commonalities. They both became better through their trials and tribulations. I hope that Gary writes a "part 2" of his life, sharing more of the life he and Angel built together.
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Post by Christina O Phillips » 05 May 2018, 12:11

I liked Duke better. I liked his story more and was more interested in what happened to him. Gary was interesting, too, but to a lesser degree. He just did not learn nor really seemed to be that interested in growing. Maybe if I had seen Gary change the way we got to see with Duke I would have found Gary to be more interesting.

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Post by lmvartanian » 05 May 2018, 18:27

Both of these characters annoyed me to an extent. The way they both willing accepted making poor choices and did little to make good choices or change their behaviors or attitudes was very frustrating. Both of them appear to let life happen to them, as opposed to taking charge of their lives. I would have to say that Duke annoyed me less than Gary, but only marginally so. This is because Duke appears to have finally grown up a bit before meeting Gary (which is a good thing since he was nearly 70 at the time), and is willing to take some responsibility for his actions and choices.

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Post by sophiemer642 » 05 May 2018, 19:41

I believe Gary was more realistic in terms, and that is what I liked about him. He is very confused, and many of us can relate to him. All of us are confused at some point in out lives, and Gary really was confused. He did not know his place in life.

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Post by teacherjh » 06 May 2018, 23:08

P0tt3ry wrote:
03 May 2018, 17:35
Duke was always in touch with his demons. He understood the risks and consequences of his actions, but still made the choices he did. I liked this flawed character because he took ownership of his choices.

Gary, well, Gary didn't make choices. Gary just hedonistically drifts from one bad decision to another. He turns his life around but we aren't witnesses to that transformative stage of his life--just to the wild years and the events that occur decades later.
That is disappointing that the book does not show how Gary finds his healing from addiction. That is the part of the story I would like most.

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Post by Dolor » 07 May 2018, 02:14

meadhbh wrote:
02 May 2018, 09:58
This book follows the lives of two very different characters - Duke, a sword-swallower, and Gary Robinson, a college graduate. Which of these two characters did you prefer and why? Whose story did you find more compelling?
I don't like both characters due to their love for alcohol. However, I admire their circus stunt.

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Post by Jeyasivananth » 07 May 2018, 09:12

I think both characters were interesting in their own way although I could identify with neither. However, as a character-driven book, I think the book thematically touches upon the paradox of hedonism in the character of Gary Robinson; which claims the pursuit of pleasure can be self-defeating. Constant pleasure-seeking may not yield lasting pleasure or happiness in the long run. In other words, in order to be happy, we must aim at things other than one’s own happiness. This is justified in the character of Gary Robinson whose hedonistic lifestyle only begets misery and depression.

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