One of my favorite books of all time is Stephen King’s The Stand, an epic tale in which 99% of the human race is killed by a super-flu. The story follows the survivors, as they fight to make their way in a post-apocalyptic world.
My favorite character in the book (and one of my favorite female literary characters of all time) is Frannie Goldsmith, a strong, pregnant, college-aged woman who loses everyone she knows to the super-flu- everyone, that is, except her best friend’s brother, Harold Lauder.
Harold goes out of his way to protect and care for Frannie. He impresses her with his resourcefulness and hard-work, and she is thankful. However, when she learns that Harold is attracted to her, she does not return his feelings, and she later falls in love with Stu Redman, another survivor that they meet later on.
When Harold learns of Fran’s attraction to Stu, his true nature is revealed. He is furious–he was the one who took care of Frannie from the beginning! He is the one who worked so hard for her and went out of his way for her! He deserves Frannie because he was such a nice guy. How dare Stu step in a steal Frannie from him!
Over the course of the novel, Harold’s anger and bitterness deepens into a murderous hate.
In my opinion, Harold Lauder is one of Stephen King’s most terrifying characters (and Stephen King writes some pretty terrifying characters), and it’s all because he has an extreme case of what we feminists call Nice Guy Syndrome.
I see Nice Guy Syndrome everywhere.
I obviously don’t expect every guy who has it to become as bitterly hateful as Harold Lauder. His is an extreme case. But in this extreme case, we see the subtle problems with Nice Guy Syndrome brought into focus.
Tomorrow, I’m going to take some time to talk about Nice Guy Syndrome and why I shudder and picture Harold Lauder every time I see a Facebook rant about how women are “idiots” because they “date jerks” and “won’t go out with nice guys like ME!”
Until then, in honor of a belated Halloween, what’s your favorite scary book/movie and who’s your favorite character?