The strong, silent male prototype has been a fixture in fiction, especially romantic fiction since . . . well, who knows how long, perhaps even when the oral tradition was king.
Anyway, I’m sure people much more knowledgeable than me have tried to analyze their appeal but whatever it is, I do know that it hits us at in a deeply emotional place. Perhaps the appeal for women is that these characters bring out our nurturing side. We want to take care of the stoic hero. Or maybe, he presents a challenge. He is, perhaps, he is a challenge to conquered. Or perhaps, it hits at an evolutionary place. The man who is calm, cool and self-assured will be able to protect us from whatever evils exist in the world.
Lee Child and Jim Butcher have created two of my favorite strong, silent types in genre fiction.
I feel like Jim Butcher and I should be old friends. I’ve followed his “The Dresden Files” from the first book, Storm Front. Harry Dresden is a private eye in Chicago. He’s also a wizard. Yes, Harry Potter is all grown up! Over the course of twelve books, Harry has battled evil warlocks, vampires, werewolves, faeries, trolls and all sorts of other nasty magical creatures. It hasn’t all been easy for him either. He lost his mother at an early age, then found out his dad was a white court vampire. Then he had to kill his adopted father who was, by the way, trying to force him over into “the dark side.” His girlfriend was attacked by vampires and is just one bite away from being a full-fledged blood sucker. Most recently, a group of red court vampires, those are the blood suckers, decided to seek revenge and kidnap the daughter he didn’t know he had.
Surely, I’m not the only one who, at the end of one of his adventures, want to pull Harry Dresden down to my breast, rub his poor, aching head and reassure him that he’s not alone. Of course, then when he’s feeling better, I want to have my wicked way with him.
Or maybe it is just me?
One of my favorite new authors is Lee Child. He’s not new, actually. He’s been publishing his work for quite some time, but he’s new to me. A friend recommended him over a year ago and but I only recently pick up the first of his Jack Reacher series, Killing Floor.
Forget the back cover description. This book is all about Jack Reacher. He is definitely a character that women want and men want to be. He’s 6’5, all muscle. Ex-military police. If I ever got myself into a tight spot, Jack Reacher is the kind of man I want standing by my side.
Jack is deeply moral, a patriot, a man with strong convictions. A man who also doesn’t mind breaking a few fingers or carving up bad guys, if the situation calls for it. He only wants to be left alone, to wander across America, but it never fails that he gets pulled into some bad guy’s evil plan. His belief in himself never waivers and his conviction that he can handle whatever the world throws at him is ooo-la-la sexy! So, when he discovers that he is vulnerable . . . well, hell. There go my nurturing instincts again.
Both of these characters are so strong and clearly drawn, that you might find yourself sort of accepting more than believable, okay, I’ll just say it, implausible, plot lines. Whew, glad to get that out. Both of these writers have incredibly complex plots that require the reader to suspend belief, logic and realism until the book ends.
But I think it’s the characters that make the stories so memorable that it keeps readers coming back for more.