There are a lot of contrasting characters in this book. Off the top of my head I can already think of two. There’s Gabe and Finn as one pair and Mutt Malvern and Sean as the other. I’m pretty sure it was done on purpose because their personalities were the complete opposites of each other.
Gabe and Finn
These two guys are the brothers of Puck. Gabe is the older brother and Finn is the younger one.
Finn is more present throughout the book, always supporting his sister. He sells his prized cart to get money to fund Puck’s racing (which is literally the sweetest thing ever) and he freaking gambles on his sister! He has confidence in Puck throughout the book and never fails to make readers smile. He acts awkward around girls and he doesn’t take compliments well. He’s modest and loves sugar. I’m not sure exactly how much younger Finn is but he is the jumpy, excited brother.
Gabe on the other hand is significantly older. He is the most mature and supports the family through his job at a hotel on their island. However, from the beginning of the book, it’s clear that he does not enjoy his time on the island. He feels smothered and seeks escape from Thisby. He doesn’t do this in the best way. Both siblings learn of his departure through his blunt words. There’s no explanation for it. Afterwards, he grows more and more distant, failing to tell his siblings of the fact that they are behind on paying the mortgage. By the end, we learn why he desires to leave and we even get to see the protective, brotherly aspect of his personality. But even so, Puck’s victory does nothing to prevent his decision.
There are obvious personality differences between Finn and Gabe. One is more childish, the other more solemn. Gabe is less open and Finn is the opposite. Both love Kate and are loyal to her. The primary distinction that sets them apart and makes them different is the fact that Finn lives to stay on the island and Gabe couldn’t be happier to leave. It’s in this way that Finn is closer to Kate during the novel. They connect over the magical environment of Thisby in a way that Gabe just doesn’t understand.
Sean and Mutt
This would be your classic protagonist/antagonist clash. There are some rather… black and white distinctions between these two, to the point that it’s a little comical. A pretty good comparison I can make right now is the relationship between Romeo and Tybalt from The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Sort of. I’m just comparing it because I’m reading in school right now and I can see a similarity haha.
Sean is the stereotypical strong and silent guy. I can see his personality being overused in many, many novels. Do I care? Not particularly because I LOVE this type of character (oh just go ahead and judge me because I don’t care). He’s passionate about his love for capaill uisce and horses. He shares a connection with them that can’t be put into words. As it states in the book, he lives with “one leg in the ocean and the other on land” (not a direct quote oops). He isn’t social whatsoever but continues to be a popular topic of discussion due to his many titles as the champion of the Scorpio Races.
Mutt is the complete opposite. He’s aggressive and very jealous of Sean, especially since his father, the owner of Malvern stables values Sean’s input on horses more than he does. He treats horses terribly, believing that speed is the only factor in a race. He’s a bully, parading Sean’s horse around like toy and being sure to pee in Sean’s boots. His ethics and morality are… very questionable as he slices the hamstrings on a horse at one point and attacks Puck during the race. He’s loud and rough.
So yeah there’s a huge difference between these two characters. But one can’t really blame Mutt for his feelings. Okay I sound kind of like I’m sympathizing with the enemy but I think that the only reason Mutt treated Sean badly is because Mutt’s father liked Sean more in terms of horse expertise. There’s something sad about being overseen by your own parent in favor of another when you want to be acknowledged. That of course, doesn’t condone his actions because it’s still really wrong to do what he does.
Stiefvater did a fantastic job with creating some foil pairings in the book. They clashed in ways that made the plot much more interesting. They brought up new conflicts and ideas. I kind of love foil characters. What do you think about the use of contrasting characters in books?