Will Thomas: Sexually wounded, emotionally disoriented, rudderless, gaping, grasping, useless pretty boy Will Thomas is a shadow of the man he might have been under different circumstances. He represents potential, the inkling of a better human we all possess but for the distractions and pitfalls dragged forward in life as emotional baggage. Will has done nothing in his life, and while he has also done nothing wrong, neutrality can’t save him. Imperfect in every way, he can rise with the hope that suddenly greets him in the form of Emily Bennett or thoroughly succumb to the prevailing cynicism of his family. Nature/nurture grinds out in a battle between the domestic brutality of his childhood and the genetic gentility of the man suspected to be his real father. Though habituated to apathy by the Thomas title, his deeper faith is secretly nurtured by the Savage name, which he preserves under the guise of Fantasy Sleuth and gold badge detective Dick Savage. This torment plays out in his talents as well, pitting lackluster academic aptitude against the gut-check detective skills he has inherited.How people change is of interest to us all and in Will Thomas we see the irony of personal transformation. On the one hand, Will is reminded by Melanie’s mocking use of the word Abracadabra that we can’t borrow the purpose of people who possess an unflinching comfort about the meaning of their life. At the end of the day, only we can decide to care. On the other hand, we can’t undertake what we don’t know. Empathy is rare, and therefore rarely taught. It may even be genetic. Upon first sight, Will is attracted to Emily. He spins this attraction into lust out of confusion and yet seems to understand that she belongs to some higher interest. That there are people in the world who care deeply is not common knowledge. For many of us, doubt eventually deceives this simple truth. We are told that the selfless few among us who really care are saints, whereas the rest of us are doomed to original sin. But from personal experience I know this to be false. I know the man who taught me composure. I know the historical figures who taught me to think. I know the president who taught me peace. And I fondly remember the names and faces of those who taught me to care. In Will Thomas we see the concept of change by proximity. Who we know matters. Who we meet matters. A meaningful life—a life beyond himself—is suddenly possible the moment Will meets Emily. At first mesmerized and then bewildered, and then only after recognizing that his attraction to Emily is not sexual, Will’s final pilgrimage is one of wandering, that last journey in the desert we each take before discovering what it is we care about. Who he cares about doesn’t matter so long as it’s not himself. Richard Savage, after all, cares about children, not animals.
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