"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial, naturally and not accidentally, is either
beneath our notice or more than human. Anyone who does not partake of society is either a beast or a
god." — Aristotle, Politics
Evan Arden, a Paradox
Evan Arden in Otherwise Alone is a complex figure, a riddle if you will, though not one that the reader will easily solve. He will get under your skin so deliciously that you will insist on finding your own answers to the complexities of this character.
When we meet Arden, he’s holed up in an isolated cabin in the Arizona desert with only his beloved dog and a sophisticated sniper rifle for companions. His property is secured by a crude alarm system, and he doesn’t allow himself to partake in one of his favorite pastimes for fear that he will “get very lost in a good book” and let his defenses down. As austere as his surroundings are, he also believes “It’s a hell of a
lot better than a bunker in the Middle East.” All we know is that Arden is now retired military, Marines to be exact, but what happened in his former life? Who would need security in the middle of a U.S. desert?
Actually, these are parts of the mystery
of Evan Arden and aspects of his personality we will eventually come to know—and
Arden’s survival may depend on his powers of observation, but why? His ability to note the particulars of his surroundings is uncanny, never missing even the slightest shift in detail. Taught at an early age by the Catholic school nuns to use deductive
reasoning, he is now an expert in reading people—from the lightning fast changes in facial scenery to every twitch of a muscle—Arden collects crucial information.
He’s adept at putting all the pieces together, reading another person as easily as we read words on a page. When a woman enters his life, these revelations make him uncomfortable with what he sees and disturb his solitary life.
Arden is a walking contradiction. He undoubtedly possesses the characteristics of a charming sociopath, yet we know he can’t possibly be one. He appears to have no conscience, yet he is filled with regret about his past. He tries to remain aloof, yet he’s sensitive, even sensuous at times. He lives the life of an outsider, yet he longs to connect to someone. He is a charming liar, yet he wants nothing more than to tell the
truth to a mysterious stranger. When he finally finds someone who gives him hope that his life might once again have meaning, he wants nothing more than to have her stay, but he knows he must let her go.
Cool under pressure and always focused, Arden will continue to live his solitary life.
He will live in the present perhaps longing for what can never be. He may have his beloved pet by his side, but he may always be Otherwise Alone.
February 27, 2013
Evan Arden - A Character Study by Chayasara
Evan Arden - A Character Study