The Anchor Character

I recently read a literary novel called Whirlpool, written in 1947 by James Leal Henderson. The novel, set in Mexico, portrays the lives of several characters who are struggling with personal demons–a disillusioned war hero who can’t fit back into society, a down-on-his-luck con man who’s about to fall into the gutter, an aged drunkard who can’t let go of his lost youth, an ambitious if naive young Mexican girl who is willing to sell herself to a lecherous old man for the fine things he can give her.

During the course of this novel, the characters’ lives grow steadily worse, that is until the central figure (an evil man who has clawed his way to the top) receives his condign punishment for his many sins. Then, as if by a lightning storm, the foul air is cleansed and all the characters begin to turn a corner in their lives.

As the title implies, the evil central figure was a whirlpool, sucking in the hapless men (and young woman) who came into close contact with him. Since only the young girl was directly affected by the evil central figure’s schemes (and ultimate demise), the reader is left with the impression that a dark soul can cast a long, unhealthy shadow over those around him, whether he plays a role in their personal stories or not.

An interesting concept–and one that ought to be explored in future stories by writers of today.

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