Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Men of L'Engle #6: Calvin O'Keefe

Ah, Calvin. No doubt part of your popularity is the number of Meg-like girls who wanted to imagine they could end up happily married to the first boy they ever talked to.

We first meet Calvin when he's a gawky 14-year-old, two years ahead in school and far more than two inches too tall for his clothes. He's an outsider in his own (huge) family, but the minute he walks into the Murry house, he knows he's found a home.

And while I'd normally be all up in arms about controlling tendencies at a passage like this:
"Well, you know what, you've got dreamboat eyes," Calvin said. "Listen, you go right on wearing your glasses. I don't think I want anybody else to see what gorgeous eyes you have."
-- the fact that it's Calvin (okay, and the fact that I totally understand how Meg felt, having done the glasses-and-braces thing myself) makes it acceptable.

Leading characteristics:
  • Family man. He cares about his family when they don't care about him, and once he and Meg marry, they end up with a family big enough for a baseball team. And when we see him from Polly's perspective, in A House Like a Lotus and An Acceptable Time, he appears to be a pretty awesome father.
  • Brilliant. To put it mildly. A Wrinkle in Time suggests that there's some sort of biological difference, although this never comes up again. But we do get to see him as a researcher widely acknowledged as top in his field, getting special government assent to his work. And this despite the fact that his future wife had to help him with his math homework.
  • Fond of islands. As an adult, Calvin chooses to make his home on various marginally populated coastal islands where he can work out of a home laboratory. (Don't you wish you had one?)
  • Rather normal. I mean, despite the fact that he's been inside his brother-in-law's mitochondria, not to mention several other planets.
Pull quotes:
  • "There hasn't been anybody, anybody in the world I could talk to. Sure, I can function on the same level as everybody else, I can hold myself down, but it isn't me."
  • "We came to the island... because it was, at the time, one of the few places left in the world where I could bring up my family and work undisturbed."
  • "I've stumbled onto something. Something that is unusual, desirable to many people, and important."
And where's Calvin now? Based on my acquaintance with Georgia's coastal islands, I'm pretty sure Benne Seed has gotten far too built up for the Murry-O'Keefe comfort level. And the senior Murrys are getting on in years, so I wouldn't be surprised to find Meg and Calvin heading back to New England. But beyond that? He's researching, as ever.


Liz B said...

Calvin intrigues me; I really, really, really wish we'd gotten the much-rumored adult novel about Calvin & Meg.

Sarah Rettger said...

I forgot all about that! Yes, would have loved to see the dynamics of their relationship without Polly as the filter.

Anonymous said...

I really, really, really second Liz B's comment!

Hi, also. I popped over here from the aforementioned Liz B Twittering about it. Wow, says I, who has named my daughter Madeleine-- this is obviously a very cool person. And it turns out you're blogging about Anne of Green Gables concurrently? Wow, says I, again. Carry on being awesome.

(Calvin is my #1 literary crush. It IS probably because I am so very Meg-gy)

Sarah Rettger said...

Thanks, rockinlibrarian! (And thanks, Liz, for being an influencer as always.)

I never really thought about Calvin as crushworthy until I did this project - but now I totally see it.

I need to get back to my Anne blogging! I hereby vow that it will *not* take as long as my Jane Eyre project did.