James “Sawyer” Ford is arguably the best character on the TV show, “Lost.” He has a tough exterior, which may cause viewers not to like him, but one of his most endearing traits is how he’s always off by himself reading a book.
In one of my favorite episodes, he quotes the book, “Of Mice and Men” and states that it’s his favorite book. Of course I’ve read the book because it’s a classic and because my favorite television character loves it.
There is something about this book that everybody can relate to. It’s definitely the simplicity of Lenny’s character, but also the bond between Lenny and George. They’re two grown men, but they feel okay bonding and fantasizing about a future together (they don’t even have to declare “no homo”).
The book is about being with someone we care about. Connections are not always romantic and sometimes the most meaningful ones are platonic.
I then got to thinking about the character of Sawyer and why this, of all books, would be his favorite. Why did the writers choose this book for him? I think it has something to do with Lenny’s connection to soft and furry animals.
Sawyer seems to have many connections to animals, as well, throughout the series. He reads “Watership Down,” which is about rabbits, he has some irrational grudge against a wild boar, he gets overly angry at the chirping noise a tree frog makes and kills it with his bare hands, he watches as Ben Linus shakes a rabbit to death in front of him to which he responds, “Did you just kill that bunny?” And then there is, of course, when he is locked in the cage and must figure out the puzzle to get food, much like the previous polar bear inhabitants.
Sawyer is both compared to animals and interacts with them in various instances. They put him on an animal’s level to show his primal urges. He has the control over his emotions that an animal would, though he tries to hide it. And he is as pure as an animal is.
When first thinking about why Sawyer would like “Of Mice and Men” the audience would think he relates to George, the more logical of the two. He seems emotionally distant and cut off from other people, like Sawyer, and he thinks with his head, not his heart.
On second thought, it is Lenny that he actually relates to. Sawyer understands having these surface level emotions and he understands not wanting to be alone. He fears bringing people into his life, because he believes he will hurt them, as he has done in the past.
Sawyer has more awareness than Lenny, however, and he views himself as a monster. He has developed a deep sense of self-loathing. And unlike Lenny, Sawyer hurts people on purpose before he can hurt them unintentionally, as a way of protecting himself.
Though Lenny is a seemingly simple character, he is a framework with which many people, and fictional characters, can relate. He brings us back to that feeling of a longing to be loved and comforted.
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