Kavalier and Clay Hero & Sidekick

1237 Words5 Pages
The hero-sidekick relationship has roots in more than simply comic books. The sidekick has found its way into both literary and popular culture, and its role has progressed from an unimportant aid to an integral part of plot and character. Michael Chabon, in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, for instance, uses multiple sidekicks to lead the protagonist up to its climactic conclusion. Joe Kavalier, the fictional Escapist along with its personification, Tracy Bacon, and the editor, George Deasey, all serve as sidekicks to the hero of the novel, Sam Clay. These supporting characters lead Sam to develop, psychologically and ultimately reach his goal of happiness and mental piece. Joe plays an intrinsic role in giving Sam a purpose. Prior to Joe’s arrival, Sam was little more than an optimist with “Houdiniesque” dreams. A clay golem in his own right, Sam lay inanimate and unmotivated. Not particularly attractive, crippled, and a (closeted) homosexual, Sam seemed to be born to be pitied. Sam was, however, able to understand his dire need for a transformation through an analogy to magic and comics. He says: “To me, Clark Kent in a phone booth and Houdini in a packing crate, they were one and the same thing. You weren’t the same person when you came out as when you went in…. It was called ‘Metamorphosis.’” (3). Sam understands that he too must undergo this alteration, and finds the catalyst for this in Joe. Ever the storyteller, Sam embodies the attractive, athletic Joe as a type of superhero. Keeping with the theme of heroes, Joe’s gift of drawing vivifies Sam’s passion for comic books and presents him with a creative use of his talents. Sam changes his name from “Klayman” to a more media-friendly “Clay”. This signifies the end of the latent, passive Sam Klayman, and the emergence of the more aggressive Sam Clay. The difference between Sam pre-metamorphosis and
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