OR John Joseph Galbraith. Which one should we talk about?
THAT WAS A RHETORICAL QUESTION.
I've been making notes and working on the outline for Bell, Book and Scandal, and that means thinking through the ongoing character arcs of both Cosmo and John. I was surprised after I Buried a Witch by the readers who really did not seem to "get" John. Meaning that they did not seem to understand that John was an emotionally and psychologically complicated personality with a character arc before him.
I don't know why this always surprises me because I've noticed again and again that the very readers who claim they love difficult, complicated characters, often have a lot of trouble with characters who are indeed difficult and complicated outside of a preordained acceptable character traits bubble.
I admit it. I like writing difficult characters. I like writing characters that push reader buttons. I like occasionally making readers uncomfortable. I'm not trying to write for everyone. I'm not studying the market and analyzing algorithms. I write what interests me, moves me, inspires me to explore and understand. That's one reason why I quit writing for mainstream. ;-)
Some of John's most important character reveals are sub-textual. But some of them are right there in
For example, John's not sexually controlling. He's open and willing to anything Cosmo wants to do or not do. He specifically says Cosmo should have everything the way he likes every time he has sex. And as Cosmo's sexual interests change, John goes right along with out hesitation or hitch.
Also, right from the start--in Mainly by Moonlight--as ambitious as John professes to be--is--when it comes down to Cosmo or his big important job--even with all his (understandable) doubts and concerns about Cosmo--he chooses Cosmo.
This is a little one, but kind of key to both family dynamics and how John treats others. John backs Cosmo's position within the family hierarchy. We know (or think we know) John's not a patient guy, yet he's kind to his annoying and difficult mother and both loyal to, and protective of, his difficult young sister. He values Cosmo's input and opinions (as much or more than values anyone's--given that he is not a trusting person). Also he appears to remain courteous and respectful to Cosmo's family and friends, despite knowing they detest him.
In I Buried a Witch, John gives what he believes is an ultimatum and when Cosmo calls his bluff, he backs down, eventually settling on the fairly minimal request of please don't use magic as a first resort. (Which is fair enough from someone who doesn't like magic. ) Should he have made the original request? It's called negotiation.
It's tricky because we mostly see John through Cosmo's eyes, and Cosmo feels insecure and uncertain of the relationship. Subtext is important when analyzing John. But so are Cosmo's behaviors. He repeatedly ignores John's orders and demands--other than the evening where John discovers Cosmo is a magical being who attempted to repeatedly use magic on him--Cosmo shows little real fear of anything but John not loving him. In fact, overall, Cosmo is pretty much a blithe spirit.
And finally, I'd have insisted on the pool too. :-D I mean, he did give Cosmo half the backyard, and Cosmo is a fully cognizant adult, not a tiny child to wander off and fall in the pool.