Elements of the Novel The Dark is Rising
I Characters - Who and Why?
IA Cast of Characters:
Will Stanton is the main character of this novel. He is the seventh son of a
seventh son and discovers on his eleventh birthday that he is more than a mere mortal
human--he is one of the "Old Ones", a force of immortals dedicated to fighting an evil called
The Walker (Hawkins) is an old tramp Will Stanton sees in the beginning of the novel. Will discovers
he carries a magical object. When he is first seen, he is described as "a shambling, tattered
figure, more like a bundle of clothes than a man" with "bushy, greasy grey hair below
a dirty cap" (10). He has carried this object for many centuries and longs to get rid of
it, but must be careful to give it to the right person.
Merriman Lyons of the Old Ones is a man who appears to be in his forties
or fifties, but is actually very, very old. He is the one that takes Will back in time and teaches
him the way of the Old Ones. He is described as a tall man with "a strong, bony head, with
deep-set eyes and an arched nose fierce as a hawk's beak; a sweep of wiry white hair
springing back from the high forehead; bristling brows and a jutting chin." His face had "fierce,
secret lines" (34).
There are other Old Ones, such as , Farmer Dawson, the smith, and "the Lady", a powerful
but seldom seen figure.
The Rider of the Dark is one of the most powerful beings from an ancient group of
immortals known as "the Dark". They are evil and try to destroy or convert Will Stanton.
Will's Family Will comes from a large family. He is not only a seventh son, but there are
sisters as well. Will must keep his family unaware of what is going on, and must also protect
them from the power of the Dark. His father is a jeweler. His oldest brother is in the navy
IB Motivation and Conflict:
Will Stanton is motivated to find out what is going on in a world that he thought he understood. As he begins to understand the universe of the immortals, he is motivated to achieve his quest and protect his family.
Between the Old Ones and The Dark, there a clear "Good Guy" and "Bad Guy" conflict. The Dark are evil; their motives are a pure lust for power. This does not, however, mean that all the relationships are simple, especially concerning Hawkins and (who, later in the novel, is discovered to be the same person as the Walker). Hawkins is in caught between the Old Ones and to the Dark, but appears to hate them both. He has had a long experience with them, although he is a mortal.
In addition to Hawkins, there is also Maggie Barnes. At first Maggie appears an innocent farm-girl, but later she is shown to be one of the Dark.
IC Methods of Characterization:
Susan Cooper directly tells the reader what the characters look like. She often uses lists to characterize the main people in the novel, or she might drop a comment about them such as, "Nothing missed old George. He could see a hawk drop from a mile away" (6).
Susan Cooper also portrays the good or evil in people. When she does this, she doesn't come right out and tell the reader; instead, the reader observes the actions of the character.