Top 9 Supporting Characters in Literature

GoldfinchCover-CindyFazziPic

Boris in “The Goldfinch” is one of the most memorable sidekicks you’ll ever meet in literature.

They’re called sidekicks. They play second fiddle, but some secondary characters are as memorable as the protagonists they support. In fact, well-drawn supporting characters are a hallmark of exceptional novels.

While reading Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” I found Boris, a secondary character, so compelling that I began to create the list below. If you haven’t read these novels, I highly recommend them. If you write fiction, the biggest takeaway from the list below is you have to develop your secondary characters with as much care as your hero and heroine.

9 Memorable Secondary Characters

#1 Boris Pavlikovsky, “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker’s best friend is a street-savvy, funny, and charming Russian who has no qualms stealing, lying, and getting involved with criminals. Boris is bad news from the start, but he’s also a loyal and caring friend. He gets Theo in serious trouble but he also saves him.

#2 Jack Cole, “Sideways” by Rex Pickett

Jack, like Boris, is a classic sidekick as the best friend of the protagonist. Like Boris, Jack gets Miles in trouble but manages to redeem himself and even strengthen their friendship.

#3 Ruby, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Strong-willed Ruby, who starts out as the help, eventually becomes Ada’s trusted friend who teaches her practical lessons about day-to-day life.

#4 Charlotte Bartlett, “A Room with a View” by E.M. Forster

Charlotte, a spinster, chaperones her young cousin, Lucy Honeychurch, during a fortuitous trip to Tuscany. Her old-fashioned ways hinder Lucy’s romance with George Emerson, but she helps them in the end.

#5 Phoebe, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield says Phoebe, his 10-year-old sister, is the smartest kid ever. Indeed she proves it when Holden says he wants to be the catcher in the rye just like in the song. Phoebe corrects him and says it’s not a song but a poem by Robert Burns. She’s a sensitive and affectionate little girl; she may be the only person who understands Holden.

#6 Mrs. Bennet, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Elizabeth Bennet’s mother is impossible to ignore. She is the loudest character in this novel. Her mission in life: to marry off her daughters.

#7 Boo Radley, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Boo, a recluse, lives next door to Scout and Jem Finch. Nobody has seen him in years. The kids in the neighborhood are mystified and at the same time scared of him.

#8 Minny, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

Who can forget Minny’s “Terrible Awful” pie? It’s as memorable as the sassy Minny herself. Though she plays second fiddle to her friend, Aibileen, she steals the show more than once.

#9 Dutchy, “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline

Niamph (pronounced Neeve) Power meets Dutchy on the “orphan train” when they were children. They promise to find each other in the future. They end up marrying each other many years later.

Read a related story:

The Mother of All Lists: Top 5 Blog Posts about Lists

Leave a comment

6 Comments

  1. I agree! Boris from The Goldfinch was such a great character! I think it shows real skill from the author to create secondary characters that are just as developed and engaging as the ‘main’ protagonists.

    Reply
  1. Top 10 Male Characters in Literature | Cindy Fazzi
  2. 8 Overused and Meaningless Words to Avoid | Cindy Fazzi
  3. Top 10 Villains in Literature | Cindy Fazzi
  4. 38 Literary Characters You Won’t Forget—For Better or For Worse | Cindy Fazzi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: