All Names Are Not the Same

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When your reading a work of fiction, do you ever stop and wonder about the names of the characters?

I always appreciate all the thought that an author puts into a characters identity including the name. Like in real life, a name is so important! It helps shape who you are. The same goes for characters in a book.

Once in a while, and not very often, I read a book and think a name change would have made all the difference. In The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, his character Leonard Bankhead could have benefitted from a name change. When I tried to conjure up this character in my mind as I was reading this book, I could get a good picture from the descriptions, but then calling him Leonard Bankhead made him lose credibility some how. It just didn’t click for me.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are book characters that I just can’t imagine having any other name. Like Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon or Sophie Kinsella’s Becky Bloomwood. Would Twilight be as popular if Edward and Bella were Wanda and Steve? How about Fifty Shades of Grey? I didn’t care for the book, but loved the character’s names.

Mental Floss has a great article about classic books that had last-minute identity changes.Scarlett O’Hara was almost named Pansy? What?

What character names would you change? Which one’s are your favorite?

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4 responses to “All Names Are Not the Same

  • Alison D.

    I agree that characters names are really important. I think J. K. Rowling is a master at naming characters.

  • Cassie

    I can’t see Scarlett ever being Pansy – that is insane. I love this post – what a great sentiment. I always love looking up people’s name meanings on the internet and seeing what I can find about my family and their names or my friends. You’re so right about character names. There have been a few times when I think that a book needed a character with a much more exotic name. I mean where would I be if Alice in Wonderland wasn’t named Alice – I can’t even imagine! What if she was just plain Emily. BOOOO!

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