Beta & Gamma Characters: Suzy Hendrix in “Wait Until Dark”

Beta & Gamma Characters and Hybrids: Alternatives to Alphas Part 3: The Handicapped Beta: Suzy Hendrix in “Wait Until Dark”

Suzy HendrixLet’s go further. What happens when someone, such as a physically disabled/challenged individual, whose life does not have the same level of comfort and predictability to begin with, is challenged further by menacing forces from outside? This is the tight spot facing the character Suzy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn), a woman blinded by a recent auto accident, in “Wait Until Dark.”

She makes grim, self-effacing jokes about trying to be “the world’s champion blind lady” but, in truth, she is determined to not let her blindness get her down. She intends to become as self-sufficient as she can, as quickly as she can.

When intruders enter her apartment looking for a doll stuffed with heroin (brought there innocently by Suzy’s husband), she discovers that the phone cord’s been cut. Suzy knows something’s afoot. She smashes every light in the apartment, knowing she can cope in the dark far better than her adversaries. When one keeps lighting matches to see, Suzy splashes him with the gasoline he’s brought to set the place on fire to destroy all evidence of murder.

She keeps up a game of cat and mouse in the dark, ultimately foiling those who would seek to harm her. How much more exciting and interesting in fantasy and related formats to find heroes and heroines who lack the powers and resources of their adversaries, yet still find their weak spot?

They outthink their opponents, turn the tables on them, and ultimately triumph by letting their enemies destroy themselves, as opposed to a knockdown, drag-out “slug-fest” where we already know the protagonist is invincible.

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G. H. McCallum

G. H. McCallum is author of the Reggie Stone series, the first of which, Walking Backwards for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall, was released on 12 December 2014; look for the second, The Bluebottle Boys, in late spring of 2016. He blogs principally on the 1960s, Victoriana and magic realism.