OF THE BABY NAME JEAN
Hermione is the spirited young girl of the famous and beloved Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowland, making her debut in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, published in 1997. Hermione is a scholarly little girl, a fellow student at Hogwarts with Harry and Ron, to whom efficiency and dependability are second nature. Well, she’s also a rather insufferable little know-it-all who goes about memorizing textbooks and outshining her classmates. We all know what’s beneath such a veneer – right – insecurity. Hermione has it in spades, but her heartfelt love for her friends, Harry and Ron, and her own inherent goodness, further her developing character and endear her to us over the years. Young English actress Emma Watson plays her to a tee in the movie series.
Jean Valjean is the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel, Les Misérables, which has also been made into several films, as well as the extremely popular Broadway version of 1987, based off of the Schonberg/Boublil French treatment of 1980. Jean Valjean is a generally law abiding man who is jailed for stealing bread for his sister’s children. Sentenced to five years, Jean adds insult to injury by repeated escape attempts, and ends up serving nineteen years in all. A good man who had struggled with the extremes that a life of poverty can bestow on one, Jean Valjean emerges from prison a hardened man, expecting and receiving scorn and abuse from all around him. It is the action of a kindly bishop, a man of God, who turns Jean around and sets him on the path to salvation. Under an assumed name, Jean becomes the industrious mayor of a small town and begins to become the embodiment of human kindness and neighborly good intentions. He champions the poor and disenfranchised, especially the doomed prostitute, Fantine. When she dies, Jean becomes responsible for her young daughter, Cosette, and gives the loving care of a father to the child. All this while, Inspector Javert has been seeking the man he knows as the criminal Jean Valjean, becoming more obsessed with his quarry, coming tantalizingly close at times, and determined to find and deal with him appropriately. Just as Jean Valjean is growing in love and compassion, so is Javert expanding ever farther into dreams of spite and retribution. When the final reckoning arrives, and Javert is given first-hand knowledge of the transformation of Jean, he is devastated at the emptiness and futility of the search to which he had devoted his life. In his despair, he commits suicide. Jean is also ready to leave the mortal coils, but he does so in the bounty of his deep love for Cosette, his knowledge that she is happy and fulfilled, and in the satisfaction of having finally attained that peace that all mankind so desperately need and strive for.
Scout is the six-year old narrator of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning 1960 novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, which was also adapted into a highly successful movie of the same name in 1962. She is a delightful child, although she would hate being called that. A full-fledged tomboy, Scout prefers air rifles to dolls and denims to dresses. She is bright, precocious and questioning, earnestly set upon understanding the mysterious ways of the world she is growing up in. Scout’s mother is dead, so it is her father, Atticus, who is her guide as she struggles with issues both large and small. For example, her first response to trouble is to fight – she is no shrinking violet when it comes to using her fists and feet. He gently admonishes her not to fight, but to try and imagine the other person’s point of view. Scout’s immense respect for her father helps her to heed his advice (most of the time). Over the three year period of the novel, Scout reaches the age of nine, and while she may not yet have the perspective of an adult, she has come a long way toward comprehending the shades of good and evil and appreciating and respecting the differences between people. She has been exposed to the many nuances of human behavior, and is well on her way to becoming a person who will embrace life with an open mind and a generosity of spirit. But she probably still won’t wear dresses except when she has to!