The Immense Importance of Tiny Cooper
In the novel, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by David Levithan and John Green, there are many significant characters. In some novels this becomes confusing, however in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, each character is introduced in a memorable way, and plays an important role in the novel overall. One of the more prominent characters in the novel is Tiny Cooper. Tiny is introduced on the first page of the novel, and is a part of almost every chapter along the way. He begins as a funny, quirky sidekick, but smoothly develops into a deep, interesting character who the reader comes to love. Overall, Tiny is a round character who plays a significant role in the novel. This is shown through his relationship with Will, his friendship with Grayson, and his noteworthy role in the development of the plot.
To begin, Tiny is immensely important in the life of Will. When Will finds out that the boy he was in love with never truly existed, his world comes crashing down around him. This is the same night he meets Tiny. They walk around Chicago and sit in Millennium Park together, and Tiny makes Will feel less hopeless. “a good part of my life has been erased, and i have no desire to fill in the new space. leave it empty, i say. just let me die. tiny, though, won’t let me.” (Levithan 140). It is implied that Will may have committed suicide that night had he not met Tiny, which makes their meeting immensely important. During their talk on this night, Tiny talks about how there is always some good in the bad, and remarkably, convinces Will of this. “all-in-all things still suck in a tornado-destroyed-my-home kind of way. tiny’s like the one room left standing.” (Levithan 152). This is a lesson that sticks with Will even during the time that he is without Tiny, as well as being his inspiration to go to Tiny’s play at the end of the novel. Tiny also teaches Will how to care about a person. By the end of the novel, Will realizes that he never truly loved Isaac, the boy he thought he’d been in love with, but that he was only infatuated with him. Tiny taught Will that loving someone is truly caring about how they feel and what they want, and that the world does not revolve around Will. This is why he goes to Tiny’s play at the end of the novel. It is because Will knows that Tiny needs his support in such an important time in his life.
As well as notably changing Will’s life, he also plays a big part in the lessons Grayson learns throughout the novel. He is straightforward and tells Grayson the truth. “You and your damn rules. And you do get a little tag-alongy sometimes, and there’s something a little bit Drama-Queeny about your anti-Drama-Queenyness.” (Green 258). Through being so honest with Grayson, Tiny convinces him that his rules are incorrect. At the beginning of the novel, Grayson sets out two rules for life, “1. Don’t care too much. 2. Shut up.” (Green 5). Throughout the novel, Tiny shows Grayson that following these rules causes you to lead a lonely life, albeit a safe one. When Tiny becomes preoccupied with his play and forgets about Grayson, Grayson realizes that it’s not possible to not care, no matter how hard you try. He also learns that in order to make caring worth it, “shutting up” is not an option. Aside from this, he teaches Grayson to be optimistic. At the beginning of the novel, Grayson has a very uncaring attitude, never really getting excited about anything, and getting upset with himself and others easily. During Grayson’s sadness at any given time, Tiny is always there to provide the comic relief that both Grayson and the reader need. By the end of the novel, Grayson is even able to play this role for Will. Will gets upset and says that life is only try-error, and that there is never an end to it. Grayson argues this, however, saying, “i think the point is that it’s not just try-error. most of the time it’s try-error-try.” (Levithan 268) This is something that Grayson never would have said at the beginning of the novel. The fact that he did not simply agree with Will shows how he has developed over time. This development is solely due to the optimism that Tiny displayed whenever Grayson is upset.
In addition, while Tiny is crucial to the development of the main characters, he also advances the plot significantly. Firstly, he keeps Grayson’s life from becoming boring to the reader. Grayson being of no racial, ethnic, or sexual minorities, and having average looks, grades, and home life, is a typical teenage protagonist. Tiny, on the other hand, is incredibly tall, fat, gay, rich, and is an overall much more interesting character. Tiny compliments Grayson nicely in that Grayson has a very dry sense of humor, where Tiny is much more extravagant, “Tiny spins in a balletic pirouette out into the middle of the hallway… And then he begins to sing, a Broadway baritone as big as his waist…” (Green 7) This makes an interesting contrast in their interactions, and allows Tiny to bring in more unique characters to the story to keep it interesting. Tiny is also the only connection between Will and Grayson. Because the novel is actually called, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the relationship between Will and Grayson is significant. The night the two of them meet is the climax of the story, but without Tiny developing a crush on Will, Grayson and Will would likely never have talked again, ending the story at the climax. Also, the ending of the story revolved primarily around Tiny. After Will and Grayson met, the story went from Will and Tiny’s love, to Grayson feeling neglected by Tiny, to Will and Tiny’s breakup, and finally to Tiny’s play. Tiny is in almost every scene in the second half of the novel, even more so than Will or Grayson. The reader begins to learn about the backstory of Grayson and Tiny’s friendship, and gets insight into how Tiny truly feels about both Grayson and Will. This is when Tiny goes from the quirky best friend of Grayson, to a strong main character of whom you see emotion and development. A character who was once only comic relief is now feeling pressured, stressed, and opening up to Grayson and Will, allowing the reader to take him more seriously. When arguing with Grayson a few days before his play he says, “Long week. Long month. Long life.” (Green 260). He goes on to talk about how his optimism is taken for granted. He tells Grayson that it does hurt when people make fun of him and tease him, and that is why he wants his play to go well so badly. This makes a reader see Tiny in a different light, and feel the emotion that he feels. As well, once again, Tiny brings Will and Grayson together when Will is unsure whether to come to Tiny’s play after their breakup. The last two chapters of the novel are strictly Tiny’s play, giving the reader closure as the play had been discussed throughout the novel. This makes the ending happy because you finally get to see Tiny’s stress be replaced by relief, as well as the play giving a recap of many of the events in the novel from Tiny’s perspective.
Overall, through his relationship with Will, his friendship with Grayson, and the way the plot relied on Tiny to move forward, it is clear that Tiny Cooper is a round character who plays a significant role in the novel. While characters like Tiny are sometimes overlooked as being static characters, Tiny’s development and crucial place in the novel give him the right to be considered a round character. Characters like Tiny must be respected for their importance in their novels. Without these characters, the main characters and narrators would never learn, nor change. These characters represent the people in our lives that we may overlook, such as teachers and peers, who affect our lives in ways we don’t necessarily realize. The message sent by these overlooked characters is that we must be sure to recognize those who change our lives, even if they may seem static.
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