Richard Ford’s novel “Optimists” is a story that revolves around the life of Frank, his family and their friends. Frank, the protagonist in the story learns at the young age of fifteen the vital lesson that the most important things in life can suddenly change in a short time without rectifying or recovery. In the entire story, the major theme is dynamism and versatility of the characters. However, Frank is the main character that displays the biggest dynamism in the story.
The first encounter with Frank’s spirit of dynamism in the story is the way he handled the events after his father killed a family friend. One time, Frank’s father, Roy comes home unexpectedly after watching a man being crushed by a train. His wife comforts him but a visitor in the house scorned him too hard, much for not saving the man’s life.
In a moment of anger, Frank’s father hit the man in the chest and killed him instantly. This turn of events changed Frank’s family forever. The thoughts Frank had describing this incident prove his dynamism in the storyline because he seemed to consider what his mother’s life would be after that incident and the effect that event would have on their lives. He asserts
“I don't know what my mother could have been thinking during that time, because she did not say. She did not ask about my father. She did not tell me to leave the room. Maybe she thought about the rest of her life then and what that might be like after tonight. Or maybe she thought this: that people can do the worst things they are capable of doing and in the end the world comes back to normal. Possibly, she was just waiting for something normal to begin to happen again. That would make sense, given her particular character.” (Ford 254).
Frank’s independence and dynamism are also evident in the story when he ran away from home to join the army. Frank moves into the army and stays there for fifteen years without seeing his parents. He proved that he was a man who could take challenges and make independent decisions for himself. Frank’s dynamic character is also evident in the conversation he had with her mother after bumping into her in a grocery store after fifteen years of being away in the army. When Frank meets his mother in the grocery store, they talk casually for a moment, but he remains optimistic of mending the loose ends with her and returns to the grocery store again in order to have a conversation with his mother.
During the conversation, Frank asks his mother whether his mother’s boyfriend, Boyed’s love for her was obvious. Frank displays his openness and dynamism by showing that he did not have an intention to interfere with the life of her mother and her young boyfriend. Frank seems to have learned avoiding or ignoring the bad things that happen in the story and looking forward to better things.
The dramatic events that happen in the story have a significant effect on the lives of characters. Many horrible events that happen in the storyline have a deeper meaning and significance because they play an important role in bringing out the real dynamism in the characters of the story. Frank was born an optimist, but the events in his life make him a complete cynic and even a more dynamic person. Many Frank’s dreams become shattered in the story. However, his dynamic character makes him remain optimistic even when he faces troubles.
Frank is always analyzing issues and the events that unfold in the story, according to their significance they had for the future. Frank seems to take the role of a true independent character, unmoved by the events that were occurring with him. His early independence was formed by the events that he witnessed in the young age of fifteen. He became a witness of many awful things. His father killed a friend of his mother and the family suffered a breakdown. Despite all these terrible events, Frank witnessed in his life, he still handled the issues calmly without being frightened by the problems. This fact proves his dynamism.
Through the various events that happen in the story, Frank learns to take easily everything that comes along his way despite his young age. The dramatic events that happen in the story make Frank learn to accept whatever comes his way and make the most out of it. This versatility in Frank’s character is what makes him to stand out in the story as the main character that portrays most dynamism in the story compared to other characters.
Many negative events that happen in the story make Frank view the conflicts in the storyline with different perspective. Frank’s dynamic character made him learn many things in his family like the distance with his mother, the breakdown of his family and the discomfort that his father had while at home. The clash of the hopes Frank had about his life and the reality that unfolds in the story make Frank stand out as one of the most dynamic characters in the story.