The Society for the Rescue of Fictional Characters

Several discussions of Little Women on the board have reminded me of one of the reasons I put off reading that book as a child (I did read and enjoy it as an adult): I knew Beth was going to die, and I didn’t want to go there.

This is turn reminded me of how I’ve gone through phases, as a younger writer, when I wanted to bring various either historical or fictional characters back to life. (In particular, I remember many time-travelling machinations to save Anne Frank–but I know she wasn’t the only one.)

For historical characters this makes much sense, and there’s an entire sub-genre based around doing this sort of thing–one wants to play with that turning that might have made things turn out differently, and wonders whether the world might be improved as a result.

In fiction, it’s more complicated: most writers choose to kill characters for good reasons, and bringing them back–whether the author or a fanfic writer does it–often seems to me to directly undercut the story.

And yet … that impulse to want to orchestrate a rescue is still there, I think, for many of us as readers. Which makes me envision a society for the rescue of fictional characters. (Maybe this is ground the not-yet-read Eyre Affair has covered, but I’m going to ignore that.)

So my question is: if you were a member of such a society, which fictional characters would you send a rescue party out for, and why? And, if you’re feeling inventive, how?

And: are the characters you would rescue for personal and sentimental reasons different from the ones you would rescue for the sake of improving their stories?

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