Many thanks to Kerry Kijewski for the below guest post.
Literature has always had an impact on my life, for as long as I can
remember, and I love it because it is where so many lessons and themes about
life can be found.
Over the years, as my love of these stories and characters grew, I began to
notice something interesting.
I seemed to be drawn to a group of fictional characters, all with a common
thread of similarity.
What might this be?
Three of my most favourite characters in all of literature are: Anne
Shirley, Frodo Baggins, and Harry Potter.
What do these three have in common?
They are, all three of them, orphans.
Anne of Anne of Green Gables fame, my favourite Canadian, red-haired
heroine, was orphaned as an infant. She grew up, being passed from home to
home, finally settling with Marilla and Mathew Cuthbert, an elderly sister
and brother, purely by mistake. This began her life finally, her first
experience with being wanted and loved. Of course, her early life
experiences had a profound affect on the person she would become.
Then there’s Frodo Baggins. This main protagonist and ring bearer of The
Lord of the Rings was orphaned, too, as a child. Eventually he would end up
living with his uncle Bilbo, who had carried the ring before him. Frodo was
adopted by Bilbo, taken in like a son, and from there his life is majorly
changed and his adventure truly begins.
And finally, Harry Potter was orphaned at one years old, when his parents
are murdered in cold blood by the most evil wizard of all time. He was
nearly killed himself, but some secret magic gave him an unexpected
protection. He spends the next decade, raised by his aunt and uncle, who do
not want him and do not bother to hide the fact that they don’t. His world
is only changed for the better when he discovers he has been accepted to
Hogwarts, a school for young witches and wizards. He finally has friends and
those friends become his family, in all the ways that matter.
“Mrs. Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother.”
—Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
So why, do you ask, am I attracted to these orphaned characters? Precisely for the reason illustrated in this quote.
I believe this is because I have experienced the exact opposite in real
life. I could not imagine what it would be like to not know what it felt like to be hugged and comforted when I was upset.
I was born into a loving family, with adoring parents and three siblings. I
had security and never felt, for one second, that I was unwanted or
I believe we read fiction to escape into another world, yes, but also to
learn about worlds we, ourselves, have not known. We read to learn what it’s
like for someone else, at least I do.
I am fascinated by how a child can grow and develop character and still come
out with empathy and love, when they themselves did not have love as
children, to learn what love means all the more because they missed out from
I can’t imagine what it must feel like to not have love and not to be adored
and nurtured. I read Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, and Harry
Potter to study their main characters and how they interact with others. I
feel empathy for these characters, fictional as they are, and I am all the
more thankful and appreciative of what I’ve had in my own life.
That, I think, is what truly wonderful fiction can do.
Kerry is a writer and blogger. She loves all things books and literature. She writes to make sense of the world around her. She believes life is one big headache, equal parts painful and beautiful.
She blogs at
You can find her at Facebook and on Twitter:
She lives in Ontario, Canada with her literary themed dog Dobby and cat Lumos.