Character Analysis Rima


Although Abel dominates the entire action in the romance, Rima perhaps remains more fixed in the reader's memory because she represents the idea of pure spirit. She is more myth than real woman, but Hudson has tried to rationalize this problem by making her the sole, surviving representative of a mysterious race of bird people. In short, Rima exists through the romantic and idealistic interpretations of Abel. She seldom is at the center of the stage in the drama, and her two main scenes at Ytaioa and at Riolama are short. Even at these times, Abel is present.

Rima's presence in Green Mansions is limited to the middle section of the book or, more specifically, from chapter seven to chapter seventeen. In chapter seven, Abel meets Rima with Nuflo; later, Rima disappears directly from the story by her hasty return to the "green mansions." Her appearance is very subtly prepared for, and Abel's interest in the mysterious dweller of the forest is gradually aroused by suspense and curiosity. The mythical qualities of the "daughter of the Didi" are intensified by the superstitious warnings and fearful behavior of the Indians. One should observe how Hudson unfolds these layers of the mystery so slowly and yet so dramatically, keeping the reader's attention focused on some small incident happening to Abel — for example, Abel's near encounter with Rima, which instead ends in an impressive display of terror converted into humorous irony by use of the araguatos, or howling monkeys.

Finally, of course, the climactic moment arrives when Abel approaches Rima: She is, then, not only a human being like himself, but she is almost simultaneously converted into the personification of a supernatural dimension. Nuflo's narration of her mother's history, his own past, and Rima's childhood illuminates the physical background but contributes little practical insight about the girl's psychological problems. Again, instead of a study in depth, Hudson consequently depicts Rima in the throes of a previously unknown — and human — sentiment, love. This fundamentally simple and normal emotion is the vortex around which swirl all the shy movements and disappearances of the girl, and these stirrings of love in Rima, and her responses to them, are the cause for Abel's annoyance, frustration, and even anger.

These four chapters, seven through ten, constitute Hudson's deployment of the love motif, but the action, slow as in the introductory chapters, provides no startling revelations as the intensity of Abel's love for Rima grows. Rima's character still resides in the shadows of the mythic glow that Hudson has given her. If, then, Abel represents certain autobiographical aspects of Hudson, Rima symbolizes his aspirations in the philosophical sphere. Rima is the eternal virgin, perfection on the feminine plane; she is for Hudson the ideal for which people hope and possibly seek. Rima, like Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest, is more spirit than substance.

Rima later emerges as a leading character because her fate is linked closely to that of Abel. In fact, the sharpest portrait of Rima in the romance is provided when she demonstrates momentarily the potentialities of a real person rather than an allegorical figure. She forces the two men to do her will by her determination about the trip and her return to the "green mansions." Rima, here, does not seem like the shy, retiring girl of the previous chapters. Her energetic and uninhibited personality, her aspirations about seeking her roots among the bird people, and her growing love for Abel come to the fore. This enrichment of her character, if allowed full rein, might have resulted in a psychological portrait as interesting as that of Abel.

However, Rima's role is very limited within the book because she vanishes so swiftly. Her moods are varied with romantic qualities, matching those of her lover, as the predominant force. Rima, in her wrath at Nuflo's silence about her past, appears almost shrewish, but the performance is very convincing and realistic. Then, after the shock of comprehending that the bird people no longer exist and that she will never find a home with them, Rima turns to Abel in the most sentimental scene of Green Mansions. Although Rima declares her total devotion to Abel, she departs impetuously, alone in a last proof of her basically romantic nature. This last action is consistent not so much with that of a woman deeply in love for the first time but rather with the tradition of the romantic heroine. She reverts likewise to the allegorical image, representing a mysterious and ephemeral ideal, that Hudson develops in the first part of the book.

For the remaining chapters, Rima serves as a myth for Abel which he proceeds to lift to the level of sainthood, or perhaps deification. In addition to this treatment of Rima by the faithful Abel as a model of holiness, Hudson associates the young girl with his concept of nature. The memory, impression, and idealization of Rima, then, have a contemporary or relevant meaning in the fight of beauty against ugliness, good against evil, the preservation of unspoiled nature against the degradations of commercialization and exploitation, and the need to have a vision of a better life.

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