As I mentioned in an earlier post, I always read the Author's Enabler column (written by Red Room's own green-eyed Sam Barry) in Book Page. Last month's column included a reader's observation about the prevalence of characters with green eyes. The reader remarked that she thought it was odd just how many green-eyed people there were in novels because she knew very few (real) people who had (some shade of) green eyes. She wanted to know if this was the latest trend, like the tucking trend? Having read this, I have to ask: What the tuck is the big deal about green eyes?
And I then started thinking about this new (or perhaps not-so-new) trend. I say not-so-new because Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged character, John Galt, is described as having green eyes (as well as one bright, eager reporter who spoke to Dr. Robert Stadler after the Project X demonstration, which makes it significant).
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter is always described as having green eyes. In fact, it is pointed out throughout the whole series that he has green eyes just like his mother Lily, and the fact of his green eyes becomes significant. In particular, it is this fact (Harry's and Lily's eyes) that turns Severus Snape into such a pivotal character in the defeat of Voldemort.
However, what about all the other characters with green eyes? Is it homage to Ayn Rand's John Galt? Is it homage to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter? Or is it only a means to describe a character's features? Or is it just the latest trend?
I will admit that I don't recall knowing anyone with green eyes except for my cats, past and present. I have to further admit that I don't pay too much attention to eye color unless someone's eye color is particularly startling or intense (like my sister Sally's eyes or my son Mark's eyes). I know Sam Barry has green eyes, but only because he mentioned it in the column. Most of the people I know have either rather pedestrian eye color like blue or brown, and a few people have hazel eyes. But green? Nope, not many.
I really started paying attention as I was reading to see if this were the case. And it is! In the last several books I have read, there is generally at least one person with green eyes. The last book I finished, there were at least three different characters with green eyes. The protagonist's roommate had green eyes, the alternate love interest had green eyes (until the protagonist's boyfriend gave him two black eyes in a fit of jealousy, but I digress), and one other minor character had green eyes.
Now, I look for it--the character with the green eyes. Like the tucking the hair behind the ear trend and the messy ponytail trend, it is pervasive. The green eye color is rarely significant unlike what is seen with John Galt and Harry Potter though. It just is. So, look for it soon in your next novel.
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