Hi! Today I wanted to share with you a topic that, in my opinion, doesn’t get talked about much in the writing community. That is the topic of writing elderly characters whose only purpose is to die for the young ones.
I noticed this disturbing trend when I was in my zombie apocalypse genre phase. I read nothing but zombie books for months at a time 😂 I started to see that older characters seemed to be there with the sole purpose of (you guessed it) dying for the young ones.
One particular book made me think “Geez, what if I was 60 and trying to survive an apocalypse? Would society volunteer me as zombie-food just because I’m 60?? What if I wanted to live???”
Can you imagine reaching an age when people see you as disposable? Expendable?
Can you imagine opening a book and seeing, yet again, that characters just like you are props and only props to serve others?
Okay, so let’s put it this way. An 80-year old doesn’t want to sacrifice himself for little Timmy 8-year old. Selfish? What if it’s a 30-year old that doesn’t want to sacrifice himself for little Timmy? What about 18?
Is the value of these people going up or down in your mind? That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it, when we expect the elderly to just die?
When a character sacrifices themselves in a story, that shows his moral character. When we expect them to because of their age, that shows ours.
Books like The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared show that an older person can have an interesting life. There are intricate stories that can be written of older characters, more than just zombie-food. A Man Called Ove is another good example.
Though our health may decline as we age, our quality (and certainly our zest) for life does not need to decline with it.
So why not portray older characters as people in books?
It’s something to think about.
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