Stung by Bethany Wiggins
The Effect of Foil Characters and Other Devices in the Novel
Bethany Wiggins’s Stung describes the story of Fiona Tarsis, a 17 year old girl who has awoken, after sleeping for five years, to a world that is extraordinarily strange to her. The novel goes on to evolve into the description of Fiona's constant fight to stay alive in a place where she is being hunted by members of the militia, a gang of criminals, and an army of monsters that were once human; with the constant threat of Fiona becoming one of the monsters. Through the events that occur, there is a thesis that materializes in the novel. The thesis of Stung is that an individual who has an unfortunate past and a seemingly impossible road ahead can triumph passed his or her odds. The thesis can be reflected through the numerous trials that Fiona must conquer; whether it be fighting for her life or attempting to reunite with her family. The thesis of Stung is proven to be possible through the novel’s protagonist (Fiona) living and succeeding. "I will not die without fighting for a life I am not yet done living.” (Fiona Tarsis)
Stung is a fictional and fantasy work of literature, therefore the novel expresses a goal to entertain, rather than putting forth multiple themes, motifs, and allusions to outside sources. The novel achieves a great amount of character development in characters such as Fiona, Dreyden Bowen, Arris, and Jonah Tarsis (Fiona’s brother who makes a very minute appearance, yet is described through Fiona’s recollections). Character development in a novel is quintessential to the work’s success and Stung is able to accomplish this development through the personal knowledge, actions, and thoughts of Fiona and other characters. The novel also challenges stereotypical views in the world’s current society. Stung describes a place where there are individuals who are seen as less because of their impoverished status, while others live with wealth because of their financial prosperity. This can relate to how in reality, those who are rich tend to look down upon the lower class.
An argument that the novel makes is a combination of Fiona's situation and the unfair treatment of the poor. Fiona begins in a state of weakness and poverty, similar to those in the lower classes. She then rises to become more than her circumstances and to live in prosperity at the end of the work. The argument that Wiggins is making is that is an individual resides in poverty, there is always a way out if that individual is to fight hard enough.
A foil character is a character in a work of literature that works to juxtapose a different character, with the objective to intensify certain traits of that character. In the novel Stung, there are two characters who can be described as foil characters to one another. These characters are Dreyden Bowen and Arris. Arris is a young boy who is thought to help Fiona in the beginning of the novel by giving her shelter, but Arris then goes on to put Fiona in direct danger by sacrificing her life and giving her to the militia. Bowen is a character who views Fiona as a vulnerable girl who is in need of his help. Bowen goes on to provide Fiona safety when she is running from the many forces against her. Bowen is able to shelter Fiona, whereas Arris used Fiona to further his needs. “And no matter what I did, I couldn't save you. And I couldn't bring myself to kill you. They..." He takes a deep breath and pull me against him. "You might as well have eaten my heart straight from my living body. I would rather die a thousand times at your hands than see you captured.” (Dreyden addressing a dream that he had about Fiona to Fiona)
Later in the novel, Arris reappears, once again with the false intentions to help Fiona by hiding the group she is traveling with away from danger. Arris then gave Fiona to a group of people who intended to put her into fighting pits and subsequently kill Fiona. “I hate you,” he gasps, his body taut with the effort of getting the knife to my throat. “It’s not fair that you’re not a beast! And the militia helped you. Bowen helped you. No one ever helped me!” I struggle against him, trembling from the strain of keeping his knife off my skin, and he laughs. “All I have to do is kill you and the governor will let me live inside the wall,” he says. “Finally, someone is helping me.” (Arris addressing Fiona while trying to kill her) Following the death of Arris, Bowen free Fiona from the fighting pit. The differences between the actions and morals of Dreyden and Arris work to advance each of the characters’ personalities and motives in the novel.
The personality of Wiggins can be expressed through her personal life. In high school, Wiggins did not succeed and did not receive adequate grades. However, the author rose to becoming a very creative writer who did not allow her academic strife to stop her from writing great novels. This relates to the story of Fiona Tarsis and the fact that she did not allow her horrible situation halt her from living in a post-apocalyptic society.
(P. L. 2016)