Characterization Through the Christmas Story – Strength

by | Dec 5, 2009 | Fiction Book Reviews | 2 comments

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”                         – – Ghandi 

I’m a bit behind in my well-made plans of drawing characterization out of The Christmas Story, but let me forge ahead to our next character trait: Strength

Most memorable characters grip our attention because of their inner strength of character. Some call it grit or determination, but the underlying theme is that “I am going to survive” mentality.

Strength can be in the form of physical strength, like in the movie Last of the Mohicans where Nathaniel fights to save Cora, or even the raw determination that Scarlet O’Hara personifies in her every action.

But most of the time it’s the inner strength. The quiet peace and wisdom of Beth in Little Women compared to Joe’s moxie. Elenor Dashwood’s integrity and self-control in Sense and Sensibility compared to her sister’s wild flirtation. The stealth and skill of The Count of Monte Cristo, the stratagem of Horatio Hornblower, the faithfulness of an undying love, the selfless bond of friendship, the sacrifice of a soldier, or perseverance of a parent. All of these things display strength in our characters, especially when we build our story around that theme.

All heroines or heroes have strength to drive them forward, to help them overcome…or to encourage them to try again even when they fail. True strength is the ability to try again, anyway. (Great words for an aspiring writer, btw).

So, in The Christmas Story, we are introduced to two young people with an amazing amount of strength because they relied on an amazing God. Despite the conflict I’ve discussed in a few earlier posts (pregnant and unmarried, ridicule, rejection, possible death, betrayal…etc), Mary and Joseph followed God’s plan and made it to Bethlehem just as baby Jesus was ready to arrive (No doubt all the donkey riding didn’t help Mary’s situation)

They are in a crowded and strange town, desperate for a private place, weary from a long journey, and….they give up? Nope. They take what they get. A stable. Most likely a cave used as a stable.

Joseph’s perseverance to find a place. Mary’s diligence to follow God’s plan. Both show that their strength of character really hinges on the depth of their faith. The ultimate strength.

Their remarkable wills brings the story to its’ defining moment: The entry of God into the realm of humanity, born in flesh, God with Us. Now, could they have accomplished this on their own? No, it was God working out His plans through them, but God didn’t pick Mary and Joseph for nothing. He’d created them for this very moment to fulfill is most beautiful design for his fallen creation. The hope of redemption in his son, Jesus.

Bible verse for today:

Psalm 29:11

“The LORD gives strength to his people;
       the LORD blesses his people with peace.”

Matthew 1:21

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Because God sent His son to the earth, to live a perfect life for us, we now have the strength to live for Him. Only in His strength do we find peace, even in the middle of the battle, heartache, sickness, and…death. Christ’s salvation becomes our shield and sword. The joy we find in His love becomes our strength.

Writing quote for the day:

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

–      George Orwell


  1. Mary Connealy

    Morning ladies. I need to go back and work harder on my characters in my wip.

    Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  2. pepperbasham

    Mary, Mary!
    Thanks for visiting. I can’t imagine your characters not having enough strength – your heroes as well as your heroines. You have the gift of ‘grab’ when it comes to getting the reader’s attention.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet Pepper

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This