Sidekicks as genre theme

January 22, 2007 at 11:00 am | Posted in Genreflecting, Novelist, sidekick | Leave a comment

One thrust for this online journal will be to explore the role of the “sidekick”  in various genres. In dictionaries and encyclopedias, the sidekick is defined as a friend or companion who supports the activities of a heroic main character.

holmes1.jpgFor my analysis, “sidekick” is defined by Random House’s

  1. 1. A close friend and helper- (Ron Weasley, Dr. Watson, Jughead) ;
  2. 2.  A confederate or assistant (Archie Goodwin, Sancho Panza) 

 I prefer this dual-facet definition because it recognizes that, while a sidekick is always a hero’s confidante and helper, he or she can be either a social peer or a hired hand /subordinate.  This adds a complexity to the interpersonal dynamics that I find fascinating. The cinematic sidekick is allowed to express emotions, to be lovably imperfect and funny, to humanize and contrast with the stoic, driven hero. It will be interesting to explore how literary sidekicks add texture to genre works. 

Since I’m a novice genre reader, I’m assuming that it will be straightforward to identify one or two primary sidekicks in a novel. I don’t intend to analyze all the secondary characters. There is also latitude to include variations such as animal sidekicks (Braun’s cat detective) or alien sidekicks (Chewbacca). But, can a blood relative be a sidekick? 

As a start, I’ve tagged some cross-genre titles in Novelist using the keyword “sidekick”. I plan to check Genreflecting to identify sidekicks as a theme .  I’ve also found a link from Wikipedia to a list of literary sidekicks (genres unspecified). 


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