The Character Study of Wanderer in Stephanie Meyer’s Novel, The Host

The Character Study of Wanderer in Stephanie Meyer’s Novel, The Host

Muhammad Ilham Syah,M.Pd

Abstract. This study aims to comprehend the character of Wanderer in Stephanie Meyer’s novel, The Host, based on Oldham’s theory of character. To do that, the researcher applied objective approach with the qualitative research methodology and library research technique to study the intrinsic elements of the literary work. The result of the study shows that Wanderer, the main character of the story, possesses two dominant characteristics. These dominant characteristics are: Self-Sacrificing and Devoted.

Keywords: character, dominant, characteristics

The Host is a novel written by a popular contemporary fantasy writer, Stephanie Meyer in 2008. Since many people consider that the character of the protagonists is one of important factors which drive the story forward, in this study, the researcher will analyze Wanderer, the main character in the novel to find her dominant personality traits.

The background theories used by the researcher involve some definitions of character. M. H. Abrams (1999:32-33) defines characters in a literary work as:

Characters are the persons represented in a dramatic or narrative work, who are interpreted by the reader as being endowed with particular moral, intellectual, and emotional qualities by inferences from what the persons say and their distinctive ways of saying it—the dialogue—and from what they do—the action.

Characters in a story have an essential role to develop the storyline. They have a large influence to the quality of the novel. The characters in many stories possess characteristics which are similar to the representation of a real person’s qualities. Based on Abram’s definition of characters, these characteristic qualities can be analyzed through the interpretation of their words and actions.

However, character can also mean different thing, which is synonymous with personality. In that kind of sense, the definition of character becomes:

Character, or personality, has been defined as a consistent pattern of behavior based on an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions and it has been viewed in terms of adjustment and the general manner in which an individual meets the demands of his environment. (Levin, 1998 quoted by Subhan, 2003:21)

Here, character simply means an individual’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions that are reflected by outer appearance and consistent behavior. Every person has his or her own character, which may be different from others. Even though they have similar pattern of thinking or feeling but they might interpret these pattern of thinking or feeling in different way.

In that kind of context, character is much closer to characteristics rather than person. Regarding characteristics, Oldham defines them as:

The plural noun “characteristics” means traits, or features, of a person, thing, or place. The adjective characteristic means “typical of that type” of item, person or place. (Oldham, 1995:310)

Oldham’s definition basically states that characteristics refer to the uniqueness of something. It means that every living being, and even non living being, might possess a certain characteristics. Related to the study, it means that any character in the story will have distinctive characteristics which separate them from other characters.

Oldham and Morris’ New Personality Self Portrait (2008) theorizes that there are fourteen styles of personality characteristics that can be explored within an individual. These styles of personality are: Vigilant, Solitary, Idiosyncratic, Adventurous, Mercurial, Dramatic, Self-Confident, Sensitive, Devoted, Conscientious, Leisurely, Aggressive, Self-sacrificing, and Serious.

The novel, The Host, tells about the Earth which has been taken over by alien souls. Wanderer is an alien soul who possesses the body of Melanie Stryder. After experiencing many things with humans who struggle against the invasion of the alien souls, Wanderer finds herself in love with humans. Thus, Wanda, the name used by her human friends to call her, decides to help freeing the humans and sending out the alien souls to another planet.

Based on Oldham and Morris’ theory, each significant action and word that Wanderer produces will be analyzed and categorized into one of the fourteen available styles. The analysis begins after Wanderer is infused into Melanie Stryder’s body.

Not these eyes. My eyes. Mine. This was me now. The language I found myself using was odd … Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I’d used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression. Sometimes beauty. My language now. My native tongue. (Meyer, 2008, 1:09)

In the quote, Wanderer experiences the first use of human senses and knowledge after she is possessing Melanie Stryder’s body. What Wanda thinks about this experience can be categorized into idiosyncratic style, since although her way of thinking is understandable, it is still unique and uncommon, especially in her ways of stating the learned language as crippled yet fluid and expressive enough.

The memory that was not mined was so frighteningly strong and clear that it sliced through my control – overwhelmed the detachment, the knowledge that this was just a memory and not me. Sucked into the hell that was the last minute of her life, I was she, and we were running. (Meyer, 2008, 1:10)

The quote shows Wanderer’s feeling when Melanie’s memory starts to affect her mind. Here, Wanderer’s personality style that is mostly affected by the experience is the sensitive one. She feels scared and uncomfortable with the new experience. This kind of feeling logically belongs to sensitive style in which sensitive people tends to be more affected by what they experience or feel.

“So take medication! What would you have done if Healer Fords hadn’t relocated to Saint Mary’s? Would you be driving to Chicago?”

“No. But since the option of driving is now reasonable. I will take it. It will be nice to see a bit more of this world. The desert can be stunning …” (Meyer, 2008, 8:88)

The quote shows another idiosyncratic aspect of Wanderer’s personality characteristics. This idiosyncratic tendency can be seen from how she sees driving across the desert to Chicago as a reasonable option. Her desire to see the desert because it can be stunning is another sign of her idiosyncrasy, her unique, uncommon way of thinking.

“Sorry,” he muttered, “I don’t know your name,” he said.

“They called me Wanderer,” I whispered.

“Wanderer?” I nodded.

“Mind if I call you Wanda, for short? It flows easier.”

“Okay, then, Wanda.” He smiled. (Meyer, 2008, 21:282)

Here, the quote shows a different aspect of Wanderer’s personality characteristics. How she responds to the man’s proposal of giving her nickname can only be seen as the one that belongs to leisurely style. She does not mind being given a nickname despite their not-so-close relationship yet. Thus, her easy going and laid-back way of interaction here is portraying her leisurely style of personality characteristics.

“Is Melanie still alive, Wanda? Please?”

“She promised she would come back, didn’t she?” I murmured, “Would Melanie break a promise to you?”

“Love you, Mel.” He whispered.

“She loves you too. She’s so happy that you’re here and safe.” (Meyer, 2008, 23:300)

The situation of this next quote is when Wanda meets Melanie’s remaining family. Because Wanderer, or Wanda as she let herself be known, decides to be Melanie’s friend, she is willing to risk her safety to find out the situation of Melanie’s family. Here, the style of personality characteristics that is mostly affected is her devoted style. Wanda shows her devotion to her friend, Melanie, by interacting with Melanie’s brother and telling him what Melanie wants her to convey.

“Please, Ian,” I pleaded. “I want to talk to him.”

Ian looked at me for long minute, and then turned to scowl at Jared. (Meyer, 2008, 29:390)

Here, Wanda shows another aspect of her devoted style when she insists on talking to Melanie’s lover, Jared, even though he shows distrust and hatred toward her. Wanda’s willingness to face what is not comfortable for the sake of her friend is what makes her devoted style apparent here.

“Can Mel hear me? I love you, Mel. Sorry.”

“She loves you. More than anything.” A short, aching silence. (Meyer, 2008, 48:648)

Again, Wanda shows that her devoted style of personality characteristics is dominant here. She confronts Jared directly and delivers Melanie’s thought to him although it causes uncomfortable situation between them. She stays devoted to her friend’s concern and need although she desires to be away from that situation.

“Ian is right. You are too self-sacrificing. You do not have any limits. You need limits. Wanda!”

Ah, Ian, I moaned. A new pain twisted through me, surprisingly close to my heart. (Meyer, 2008, 50:680)

In the quote above, people start to see and understand Wanda’s self-sacrificing nature. She is willing to feel pain and sacrifices herself so that others will feel better or more comfortable. The more concerned friends of her, like Ian and Jed, even starts to worry about what seems to be unlimited sense of self sacrifice that Wanda displays. This situation shows that the self-sacrificing style of personality characteristics exists within Wanda’s character and manifests in her actions.

I guess you did. So why did you come here? Why are you helping the rebels?”

I explained, unwillingly, that Melanie and I were friends. She didn’t like that.

“Why?” she demanded.

“She is a good person.” (Meyer, 2008, 53:722)

In the quote, Wanda again exhibits a devoted style of personality characteristics through her actions. She is willing to help humans to rebel against the invasion of alien souls, her own species, because she promises to herself to protect her friend, Melanie, and to see her friend’s family and relatives safe. She dares to confront her own species because she feels that what they do in Earth is not right. Thus, here, she produces another manifestation of a devoted style of personality characteristics.

“I don’t get it, Melanie. Don’t you want them back? Don’t you want to be with Jared again? With Jamie? Love you too, Mel. But there’s not room for the both of us here. In this body, in this cave, in this life…” (Meyer, 2008, 52:710)

Here, Wanda argues with Melanie within herself. Wanda wants to sacrifice her life so that Melanie can return to herself, but Melanie who feels sympathetic and close to Wanda disagrees. Melanie does not want Wanda to sacrifice her life. She tries to convince Wanda to look for another solution but the alien soul is determined to sacrifice herself to free Melanie. Here, it can be seen that the self-sacrificing style of personality characteristics influences Wanda’s action.

“She’s trapped in here, Ian. It’s like a prison – worse that that; I can’t even describe it. She’s like a ghost. And I can free her. I can give her herself back.” (Meyer, 2008, 56:768)

The quote above again shows Wanda’s self-sacrificing nature. She argues against Ian about her decision to free Melanie by forceful separation which will definitely kill the alien soul. Wanda doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice her life, but Ian thinks that she needs to find another way, because he doesn’t want to lose Wanda. This again shows the self-sacrificing style of personality characteristics which influences Wanda’s action.

“Eight full lives and I never found anyone I would stay on a planet for, anyone I would follow when they left. I never found a partner. Why now? Why you? You’re not of my species. How can you be my partner?” (Meyer, 2008, 56:770)

In the quote, Wanda again shows a devoted style of personality characteristics through her words. She is feeling love toward Ian, a human, who is not even her species. She starts to wonder and questions her heart. However, she does not reject the idea that she is in love. She knows that she loves Ian and that she will always love him despite the difference in species. It means that she displays another devoted style of personality characteristics.

“I, the soul called Wanderer, love you, human Ian. And that will never change, no matter what I might become. If I were a dolphin or a bear or a flower, it wouldn’t matter. I would always love you, always remember you. You will be my only partner.” (Meyer, 2008, 56:770)

The devoted style of personality characteristics to Ian becomes clearer from the quote above. She says herself that she will always love him and that she will always be loyal to him no matter what happens to her. Here, she again shows a devoted style of personality characteristics.

“Jeb. Listen to me carefully, Jeb. I am tired of being a parasite. Can you understand that? Do you think I want to go into another body and start all over again? Do I have to feel guilty forever for taking someone’s life away from them?” (Meyer, 2008, 57: 778)

The quote above shows another self-sacrificing aspect of Wanda’s personality. She tries to convince Melanie’s uncle, Jeb, to let her die so that Melanie can be free. She does not want to live in the expense of other’s freedom. She prefers sacrificing herself rather than restraining others by becoming a parasite in their body. Therefore, the situation clearly expresses Wanda’s self-sacrificing style of personality characteristics.

“I… think it might,” I agreed. “I think it might make me very, very happy.”

“Then you will stay.” He kissed me.

“I will stay.” I agreed. And my tenth life began. (Meyer, 2008, 59:813)

The quote above shows the situation after Wanda sacrifices herself to free Melanie. Wanda is resurrected in another body, a body without self consciousness. After she is revived, Ian asks her to stay and live with him. As she has decided previously that she loves him and will always loyal to her love no matter what happens, she accepts the proposal. Here, Wanda shows a devoted style of personality characteristics.

From the analysis, it can be concluded that out of the fourteen styles of personality characteristics mentioned by Oldham and Morris’ New Personality Self Portrait (2008), the character Wanderer, or Wanda, in the story shows two dominant styles of personality characteristics, Devoted and Self-Sacrificing.

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