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An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: An Analysis
I just finished reading the book, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It had a rich characters and themes that were just begging for analysis.
Colin Singleton: Colin is the main character of the story. He is a former child prodigy although his only real claim to fame is winning a game show in his teenage years. He yearns to be a genius by coming up with an original theory of his own. His big quirk however, is that he has dated nineteen girls names Katherine. This phenomenon is not made clear throughout the novel. The reader is told Colin doesn't look for Katherines, it's just what he happens to get. However it's likely that Colin, who happens to be a clingy kind of guy, clings to name and likes the consistency of dating girls named Katherine. Colin's main flaw is the need to be praised and recognized. Katherine XIX was the first girl to give him the praise and recognition, which may explain his obsession with Katherines.
Hassan Harbish: Hassan is Colin's best friend. He is really intelligent but lazy and only wants to watch Judge Judy. He uses his Muslim traditions to get out of things he doesn't want to do, but he breaks the traditions when it will benefit him. He is really the only friend that Colin has and drives the whole plot, as he initiates the road trip that sends the boys in Gutshot, Tennessee. He is liked by everyone and helps Colin understand the world from a less objective point of view.
Lindsey Lee Wells: Colin and Hassan meet Lindsey when they get to Gutshot. She enjoys living in Gutshot and plans to never live anywhere else. She is dating a boy named Colin, who Hassan starts calling TOC (the other Colin) to lessen confusion. She is a chameleon of sorts, as she conforms to the audience she is addressing. She acts girly around TOC, and has heavy southern accent when she is with elderly people. She is helps Colin with his theory and becomes the first girl he's ever dated not named Katherine.
Hollis: Hollis is a Lindsey's mother and owns the factory the towns economy thrives from. She hires Hassan and Colin to work for her interview old factory workers to have a memory of the factory for future generation. It is revealed in the end that the factory hasn't been making money for years and she has been getting rid of stock so that no one would have to be fired from the factory. Her kindness sparks something in both Hassan and Lindsey.
TOC (The Other Colin): TOC is the stereotypical jock and jerk. He ends up cheating on Lindsey, allowing her to break free from Gutshot.
The setting is an interesting one. Gutshot, Tennessee is an old town that thrives off the money made at their factory. The most crucial part of the setting, however, is not the factory but a tourist attraction called, The Last Resting Place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This grave brought Colin and Hassan into the town in the first place. The reader learns that the grave is not actually the archduke's grave, but the grave of Lindsey's grandfather. It happens that his name anagrams to Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It was in his last wishes to have the name on the gravestone.
This act adds to the theme of Recognition. The grave would be looked at by others as an essential point of history, but it wasn't. But the grandfather wanted that last bit of recognition. He wanted his grave revered by others.
Finding an Identity: Colin wants to be a genius, not just a has been prodigy. Throughout the novel he is trying to figure out his identity. In the end, he discovers that he doesn't need to be a genius to be important. This theme also occurs with Lindsey. When Lindsey and Colin have their intimate talk in her hidden place, she tells Colin who she is frequently changing. She is really only her true self around Colin and Hassan. She realizes this at the end and chooses to leave with the two of them.
Recognition: It is obviously stated that Colin wants recognition. Lindsey also states that she wants a little recognition. The idea that no one wants to be forgotten is also seen with the Archduke Franz Ferdinand gravestone (see Setting). Colin craves for recognition and he comes to realize the recognition isn't that important.
Moving on to the Future: Colin's theory on relationships worked for all nineteen of the Katherines he dated. When he plugged Lindsey in the formula, it said she would break up with him in three days. This did not come to fruition. Showing the pass can be outlined bu the future not predicted. When Hassan decides to actually do something instead of sitting on his bum all day he is finally moving into the future. For Lindsey, leaving Gutshot is her way of leaving and growing. Once Colin lets go of Katherine XIX, and the Katherine obsession as a whole, he is also free to move on.
Doing Something: This theme is illustrated at the end of the novel, when Hollis reveals she has been paying factory workers out of her own pocket. It helps Hassan realize that doing nothing may not be the adding to bad in the world but certainly not helping it. Lindsy also realizes that she needs to stop waiting around doing nothing in Gutshot, and start doing something.
Distinguishing Between Fact and Fiction: Colin remembers being dumped by all nineteen Katherines he has dated, however it is revealed that he is Colin actually dumped Katherine III. The idea that memory can be disparate from the truth is illustrated here. The name on the tombstone also shows this, as people believe it is one thing but it isn't the truth.