Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
QUESTION #1: How/why did you decide to kill off the most lovable character so early in the book? Did you feel guilty for doing it?So hello to Fr. Dude's class, and let me see what I can do about these questions...
QUESTION #2: In your own mind, did Gabriel survive or die? If he died, then how?
DISCLAIMER: I warned them that there is probably no answer to #2. Once it’s published, the poem belongs to our imaginations. But the kids insisted. And the choice is theirs.
But when I think about the book now, I am sure that he was the most vulnerable one--and in the chaos of departure and driving north, he was the one who disturbed the others with what they had lost. He grieves. He weeps. You're right--he is the most lovable character. For the sake of the book, that lovable nature was important. He leaves a Gabriel-shaped hole that can never be filled. For Thalia, surely his death is the beginning of inwardness. It is an event that can never be erased or un-remembered. For all of the young travelers, it brings the kind of quiet in which questions spring up.
You know, I did get some reproaches for Gabriel's disappearance from the book! But no, I did not feel guilty for his loss. Do you feel guilty for what you do in a dream? Most of the time, probably not--and a book is a kind of "guide dream." (I do remember, however, being stirred while writing by the growing knowledge of what was coming toward him.) Besides, I have plenty of real-world errors to feel guilty about; everyone does, eventually, I expect. And we hope to learn from those things and change and grow, rather than feeling frozen by guilt. Certainly the group is challenged and made thoughtful by the loss.
|One of Clive's interior vignettes|