DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Apr 20 2012

Bad Boys of Fiction

by Patricia D

Answer quick here.  Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?  You said Han Solo, right?  In all the years since there was a choice to be made I’ve never met anyone who picks Luke.  You know why?  No one wants to try to raise a family and pay the bills with a bad boy (or girl), but when we can indulge through fiction, most folks will choose the scuffed up, dangerous man for a dizzying night of dancing until the wee hours of the morning or a breakneck trip on a moon splashed road in a Harley over the guy (or chick) who will be there in the wee hours of the morning when you need to go the hospital.  Luke will get you to the hospital, but Han will wreck you first.


I think this “we love bad boys” theory also explains almost every romantic interest in a Sarah Dessen novel as well as all the the vampire fiction out there, especially the stuff aimed at teen girls (Silver Kiss, Darkangel, Twilight.)

Fiction is full of these guys and you know what?  It starts early.  My first “bad boy” fictional crush was the dashing fur trapper in Calico Captive.  Set during the French Indian Wars, our heroine in the end chooses the safe, steady, poor American who only wants to be a farmer and help establish his country when she could have been rich, had Quebec at her feet and her handsome voyageur husband by her side for a few weeks every five months or so.  Imagine my disappointment.  Louisa May Alcott threw two bad boys my way:  Dan in Little Men and Jo’s Boys and Charlie in Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom.  Because they were created by Louisa May there was never any chance at happiness for either one of them—she didn’t seem to have a good feel for a redemption story—so the bad boy dies, leaving the responsible, respectable fellows to pick up the chicks.

As a grown up of course I’ve got Richard Sharpe and Patrick Harper.  They aren’t just your average scuffed up, rough around the edges bad boys.  They are at times remorseless killers and cheerful thieves.   However, they are a special type of  “bad boy” because they will also take you to the hospital at 2:00 a.m.  or bail you out of jail at 3:00 a.m.  They might be the reasons you need emergency care or bail money, but they will be there.  As will Rhett Butler, who never really worked for me but obviously he worked for some.

Okay, time’s up.  Han or Luke?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica W April 21, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Anyone out there know Myron Bolitar’s best friend Wynn, in the Harlan Coben novels? He’s very rich, very polished and dangerous almost to the point of being sociopathic. Myron (Myron??) is sensitive, caring and has been known to cry. Wynn frequently has to rescue him when he gets in over his head with the bad guys. The 16-year-old in me secretly thinks Wynn is wonderful.

Greg April 24, 2012 at 2:56 PM

At a recent team trivia game I was surprised to learn that the character of Han Solo was originally supposed to be some sort of lizard-like being. While that may have made kissing Princess Leia more interesting/disturbing, I doubt that lizard Han would have made anyone’s list of appealing bad boys. He would have kept the flies at bay though.

Jessi May 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Han, clearly. Although I’m inclined to believe that I would have been a Luke fan if Luke were played by Harrison Ford. I mean, look at him.

Tosh Norfair May 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Does Tom Ripley from the Talented Mr. Ripley or Hawk from the Spencer series count?

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