Ann DeFee did an interesting blog over on Tote Bags and Blogs on Plebes and Patricians. (http://authorsoundrelations.blogspot.com/2008/09/plebe-or-patrician.html) These terms caught my eye as I haven't thought about those particular terms since I took a college history course. But the idea intrigued me. They talked about the differences in our personalities. The more refined of our traits versus... shall we say... our more earthier tendencies. Ann admitted to a fetish for fancy china and it being offset by her love of reality shows. To me, she's found a great way to balance out the two. But this had me thinking about how I balance my own plebe and patrician sides.
Patrician side: Believe it or not, I actually come from a couple of rather well distinguished shipping families. Peleg Merriman, and yes, that was his name, was a Captain who managed to accrue himself a nice home and a lovely family. His descendants had one of the first cars in Harpswell an had done quite well for themselves. That is until the homestead burned and most of the Merriman legacy was lost. On the upside, my grandmother was in the house and the time and she managed to escape which is most fortunate for me. The other side were the Gott's of Mt. Desert Island. Most people would say Gott who? But for anyone who has seen a history of the island then you know that they were among the first settlers of the area that now encompasses Acadia National Park and the beautiful islands beyond. If there was a fortune there it's well past being passed along, but the legacy is still there.
My Plebeian side is certainly my more pronounced. Though I have long since learned to speak without the Maine accent, but there are times when it does become more pronounced. Usually, this involves a small amount of alcohol or a conversation with someone who has a strong Maine accent. I also drive way too fast and have a love of trucks and large vehicles, especially when I combine the driving too fast with the large vehicles. I had a truck for awhile, but now go the softball mom route with a nice Durango that satisfies it all. I never miss an episode of Ghost Hunters and I've been known to cry over Deadliest Catch. I love country music or even Irish Rock, especially heavy Irish Rock. And, I can swear like the best of them.
Is my Plebeian side more interesting than my Patrician side? No doubt. But neither of these alone would be a complete picture of me. The same as my characters that I write it takes both sides of myself to make me whole. Another interesting part is that there have been times in my life when I fall back on this more Plebeian side of myself. When my confidence wavered I fell back on the more unrefined part of me as a way to protect myself. I can surely imagine a character doing the same thing. Falling back on what they think people's expectations of them are as a way to protect them from the chance of being let down.
These are the things that make us human. These are the things that make our characters believable.
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