Promises, Promises: Our Favorite Protagonists’ New Year’s Resolutions

Go Figure: Musings from the Mind of Rob Wilstein

It’s that time of year again; another cycle complete, the slate wiped clean. Sports clubs memberships proliferate and diet workshops thrive. Liquor sales dip (except on the Cape) and health food stores flourish. Writers vow to write more. Artists to art more. We’ll spend more time with our loved ones, and even our not so loved ones. We promise to eat less, run more, and spend less time daydreaming about Scarlett Johansson (oh, wait, that’s just me). Resolution time. It’s a fiction we create, with all the optimism of the new year, so why not hear from some of our favorite fictional characters?

To begin with, we’ve heard through the grapevine that Humbert Humbert has renewed his annual resolution to start dating older women, going so far as to join Match.com in an effort to find a more suitable partner. And speaking of the grapevine, old friend Tom Joad has promised to lighten up a bit, kick back and not have to be everywhere someone is struggling. While we’re on righteous indignation, Miss Scarlett O’Hara plans to buy a new house somewhere, possibly up north, preferably fireproof.

How about crazy Nick Carraway? He’s resolved to get a life, stop fawning over every charismatic, wealthy nutcase he comes across, going wild at his lavish parties. Let’s root for Nick. On the other hand, Clarissa Dalloway has vowed to stop giving parties altogether, after the way she obsessed over her last one.

And that rascal Rodion Ramanovich Raskolnikov, what a cut-up. He’s resolved to go easy on the murders and spend more time with his mother. We wish him the best. And while we’re on murder, our favorite Mafioso, Don Vito Corleone, has pledged to enter an anger management program, hoping to set the tone for his sons. Good luck, Vito.

Resisting excessive urges is always a good place to start when making resolutions, and Madame Emma Bovary is no exception. Ms. Bovary has forsworn her sexual impulses, confiding in us that she promises to “keep it in her pants.” We’ll see. Conversely, and somewhat perversely aggressive, to no one’s surprise, Alexander Portnoy, of the Newark Portnoys, has confirmed that he will step up what he calls his ‘alone’ time in the family bathroom and look into other possible meat products he might abuse.

Two of our friends overseas, though they’ve never met, interestingly have made similar vows in the new year. Gregor Samsa and Alonso Quijano, better known to us as Don Quixote will undertake to get more grounded in reality. Gregor readily admits he lets his imagination get the better of him sometimes and the Don, well, he’s just really tired of tilting at windmills.

Generosity of spirit weighs heavy on our minds in the new year and it has not escaped Ebenezer Scrooge. Feeling a little guilty after a tough Christmas season, Mr. S. plans to legally change his name, citing that whenever he introduces himself people readily assume that he’s, for lack of a better word, a Scrooge. We know it makes no sense but try telling him that. And guilt! Nobody does it better than Stephen Dedalus, of the Bloomsbury Dedaluses. Stephen tells us he’s done with guilt in the new year, burning in Hell be damned. We’re on your side, Stephen.

Let’s finish up with one of our most upstanding fictional citizens, a character considered to be beyond reproach. But even the most dedicated and selfless creation longs sometimes to get away from it all. Yes, Atticus Finch, lawyer and role model extraordinaire, has resolved to look for another line of work. Something simple and less taxing. Perhaps a shoe salesman, he has mused.

So let’s ring in the New Year, make our resolutions early and often, and we’ll check in next year to see how everybody did.

Happy New Year!

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