Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so today I’m thinking about characters who could really have benefited from going on a date. None of the characters I’m about to discuss had romantic storylines. They were far too busy looking after a disabled friend, exploring a haunted mansion, fighting for the freedom of an innocent man, raising a large family, protecting their household from a vengeful spirit, or otherwise staying busy.
While avoiding romantic subplots was definitely the right decision for all of these books, I can’t help but to think that all of the main characters in them would have had happier lives if they somehow could have carved out a couple of hours of free time for an offstage date at some point.
1. Dr. Faraday from The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.
Dr. Faraday rose from humble beginnings to become a respected country physician. Unfortunately, his job didn’t pay well, and his patients kept him so busy that he didn’t have any time at all for romance. This became even more of an obstacle once he realized that a few of his patients may be living in a haunted house. Let’s just say that dealing with what may be a angry ghost doesn’t leave a lot of time for dating.
He would have some attention-grabbing stories to share on a date, though, and I think it would have been good for him to have someone to discuss all of his eerie experiences with. He lived such a lonely and sometimes even frightening life in this book. Having someone to talk to would have done him a world of good.
2. Constance Barton from Angelica: A Novel by Arthur Phillips.
Constance was a young Victorian mother who became convinced that an evil spirit was terrorizing her daughter at night. She hired a spiritualist to figure out what the entity wanted and why it was attacking her family.
There was far more happening in the Barton household than what was revealed right away. Constance’s marriage was disintegrating before her eyes, and her health was becoming increasingly fragile as a result of a string of incredibly dangerous pregnancies that had produced only one living child so far.
Constance could have really used a nice, chaste date with someone who treated her kindly and who wasn’t obsessed with having a son to carry on the family name.
3. Miss Peregrine from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Wayward Children by Ransom Riggs.
Miss Peregrine was raising multiple children who were mischievous and had magical powers. She’d been doing this on her own for years, and she had no reason to think her duties would ever end because she and her brood been forced to move to a place that existed outside of time in order to avoid being caught by people who wanted to harm all of them. Her wards were always going to remain their current ages due to the weird way that time passed by where they lived.
She was a fantastic parent figure to the kids, but she really could have used one night where she didn’t have to remind anyone to wash their hands or eat their vegetables. A date would do a world of good for this character. Since I haven’t read the other books in this series yet, I can only hope that someday she’ll get to do just that.
4. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Atticus was a widower, a single father of two young kids, and a lawyer. He agreed to defend an innocent black man named Tom Robinson who had been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.
Atticus probably never would have admitted that he could find the time to date, but this character sure would have benefitted from a few hours away from all of the responsibilities in his life. Other than Tom, of course, Atticus was the character I sympathized the most with in this tale.
5. Susie Salmon from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
Susie was violently murdered when she was fourteen. As she adjusted to the afterlife and attempted to contact the loved ones she’d been ripped away from, she began to realize all of the important life events she was going to miss out on because of how young she’d been when she died.
Going on one date would have meant the world to her. I wish she could have had that experience.
6. George from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
George had voluntarily taken on full financial and legal responsibility for a developmentally-delayed friend of his at at time when people who had those kinds of disabilities didn’t have access to any of the government programs or other types of support that they can rely on today.
While this definitely isn’t canon, I imagine George as a man who would have been identified as gay if he’d lived in modern times. He seemed much more comfortable living with and near other men than he did around women, so I’d set him up with a friendly guy who didn’t mind dating someone who already had many responsibilities in life.
Maybe he’d do well dating someone who also knew what it was like to be the legal guardian of someone whose disabilities required them to have close daily supervision?
7. Carrie from Carrie by Stephen King.
Carrie’s horribly abusive upbringing made me feel so much sympathy for her, especially once I realized that her life was only slightly less traumatic when she was at school.
If only she’d had the chance to experience a normal, happy existence. There were the briefest glimpses of the person she could have become here and there, but she would have really blossomed if she’d done something as simple as held hands with a cute guy at the movie theatre or had someone in her life who told her she looked pretty every once in a while.
Which characters do you wish you could send on a well-deserved date?