It’s World Kindness Day–the day to celebrate and reflect on our progress to act kindly towards other people and ourselves.
In popular opinion, kindness is favored over unkindness, and that’s as true in fiction as in real life. While it can be fun to read about a douche on their own messed up and self-centered journey every now and then, witnessing the benevolent hero or secondary character fight through adversity while maintaining their moral purity will never get old; hence, the success of Squid Game.
In celebration of World Kindness Day, Bookstr presents 10 of the kindest book characters in all of fiction.
Gandalf the Grey – The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
He’s done acts of kindness on both the grand and micro scales. Whether that’s sacrificing himself to demons of the underworld to save the Fellowship or acting as the mentor of not one but two Baggins, Gandalf has made a name for himself all throughout Middle Earth for being the wizard everyone can rely on.
Samwise Gamgee – The Lord of the Rings
Gandalf was more the ‘diplomatically’ kind type, with a huge network of elves, men, eagles, and skin-changers. Sam, on the other hand, stood by the ring-bearer Frodo no matter where that led him. Even when the influence of the ring caused a tear in their friendship, Sam continued to do his kindly duty and ensure Frodo’s safety. It’s a tough competition between Gandalf and Samwise; however, they rule over two different realms of kindness.
Albus Dumbledore – Harry Potter
He’s the greatest sorcerer of all time and, apparently, the kindest as well. It only makes sense; look at what happened to Voldemort (the second most powerful sorcerer in the world). As far as Bookstr is concerned, second place may as well be last. He acted as one of the few stable parental figures in young Harry’s life and prepared him for the ultimate goal in the series. The headmaster never called a quits on kindness, even when he died. Now that’s commitment to an ideal, folks!
Samwell Tarly – A Song of Ice and Fire
The Wall is one of the harshest places in Westeros and, arguably, Planetos as a whole. When Jon Snow arrived, Samwell became his first friend and remained loyal up to Jon’s death and after his resurrection. Though Samwell didn’t start out with the same warrior and leadership advantages as Jon Snow, he managed to make his mark with acts of kindness, such as rescuing the Wildling hostage Gilly and assisting her with raising a child. Considering how messed up the society of Westeros is, Samwell Tarly was a rare gem among the other double-edged characters in the series.
Andy Dufresne – Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
Imagine this: you’ve been given two life sentences in a maximum security prison for a crime you didn’t commit. It’s not really the setup for great acts of kindness, is it? Well, Andy Dufresne defied the norms of prison life and made his presence a benefit to the inmates AND the guards of Shawshank State Penitentiary. Using his financial expertise and willpower, he made a name for himself. In the aftermath of 27 hard years, he constructed a prison library, tutored an inmate to successfully pass the GED, and instilled hope in people who’d given up on it long ago. Plus, he escaped. Who says you can’t be kind and also get what you want?
Nick Andros – The Stand
As we’ve seen, Dark Lords, unjust prison sentences, and medieval brutality are not typical inciters of kindness; however, there’s always someone that stands out among the masses. When the Captain Trips virus wiped out over 99% of humanity, Nick Andros beaconed kindness and benevolent leadership. During the first days of the outbreak, when things still seemed “normal,” he was mugged, beaten, the subsequently arrested for suspected vagrancy. It was after revealing the truth to the worn down, yet dutiful Sherif, that Nick’s kindness streak began.
When the Sherif’s wife went ill from the virus, Nick agreed to watch over the station jail and feed the very men who beat him up. When the virus claimed the lives of the Sherif, his wife, and…everyone, he made the hard decision to release the last remaining of his aggressors so they wouldn’t die behind bars. On Nick’s journey to Mother Abigail, he befriended and cared for Tom Cullen. Nick went on to become the leader of the main surviving group of humans on earth until his untimely death.
Dick Hallorann – The Shining
Would you fly from Florida to Colorado in the middle of winter, drive through a blizzard up steep mountainous roads, and fight a living lion hedge to save a mother and son from their demon-possessed father? Maybe… but for how many of you will those circumstances line up for? We can never know. What we do is that Dick Hallorann, the Overlook Hotel’s head cook, did just that and more. Following the tragedy of the Torrance family, he acted as Danny’s father-figure and benefactor, teaching him to capture and contain the persistent ghosts of the hotel through the remainder of his childhood.
Peeta Mellark – The Hunger Games Trilogy
Life in a totalitarian society is rough, and that’s no joke. In a nation as bloodthirsty as Panem, where children are pitted against each other for sport, you’d think that there was no room for kindness. But Peeta Mellark proved to the Capitol that acts of good can have an impact. Katniss may have been the face of the rebellion but Peeta was the fire that kept her going all the way to victory. Not even the Capitol’s evil geniuses could permanently warp him. Tracker Jacker venom or not, Peeta’s kindness never failed to impress.
Sazed – Mistborn Series 1
In the grip of the Final Empire, where cruelty was the norm, the Terrisman Sazed defied the odds. Despite being brought up by a government-controlled breeding program, he moved on the side of the rebellion, risking his own life and the people he harkened from. During the rebellion, he managed to save the protagonist Vin’s life several times and served as her closest friend and teacher.
Abbé Faria – The Count of Monte Cristo
If you ever end up in prison, you best hope that your cellmate is this like Abbé Faria. When Edmond Dantes found himself framed for treason and sent to one of France’s most infamous prisons, the elderly Abbé emerged from the cell floor, offering more than simple hopes of escape. During their years of time together, Abbé taught Dantes to read and write on multiple subject matters, as well as how to sword fight. On top of that, he shared hidden location of an endless trove of gold on the baron Monte Cristo island.
Despite incurring the worst from life, Abbé and the others mentioned on this list are proof that kindness is more than about benefiting others; it’s about benefiting your own life. We have everything to gain from kindness and everything to lose if we don’t strengthen the habit. Let both real life and fiction reiterate that message. Happy World Kindness Day on behalf of Bookstr!
Featured Image via 20 of the Best Moments from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy