characters / plot / politics / writing

Did Ted Kennedy Have a Paradigm Shift?

Photo credit: Beverly and Pack

Every novel has that seminal event. Life is going on as it always has, predictably, acceptably. Good or bad, it works and it’s your character’s life. But for a reader, that’s boring. They know that life–it’s theirs. They won’t invest time and money to read about what they know.

So, early in a novel–probably the first five pages–you create a scene where something earth-shaking happens and life as the main character knows it will never again be the same.

As we-all review the life of Ted Kennedy, I wonder if Chappaquiddick was his critical event, that paradigm shift that changed everything in his life from that moment on. Did his extreme lapse of morals, his stark reminder of just how human he was, set up a life of liberal do-goodism? Yes, I understand it’s his heritage, but he did take it to an extreme.

And I wonder, is this why even his opponents–like John McCain–see him as a person who respected his opponents, wanted to get along with them, no matter how vicious his rhetoric on the Congressional floor?

As critical events go, Chappaquiddick was a doozie. I’ve read many stories where people radically change based on a single life event. I wonder if that is Ted Kennedy’s story.

Or did he see it as simply an event he had to get past, or lose the political mantle the deaths of John and Bobby placed firmly on his shoulders?


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