Learning from Fictional Characters #1

Books, movies and the characters therein are sometimes larger than life and leave an everlasting impact on us. Guidance, inspiration, reassurance – these are probably the most important things for people to look for in such literary and cinematic works.


The very first article in this special section is dedicated to a character appearing in the novel as well as the film The Polar Express. Here are some vital things this wonderful character of the Conductor has to teach us.

1. Punctuality:

The Conductor is painstakingly punctual and concerned about finishing the task on time. The onus to take the Polar Express to the North Pole on time lies on him, and he says that he has never been late in his life. He carries this mysteriously unique pocket-watch with him.

Important thing to note here is that when he realizes that he might just get late due to an obstacle, he doesn’t lose his wits, although his face shows that he has hit the panic button, that’s not quite so. He makes necessary adjustments to catch up, and finally succeeds.


2. The Magic of the Unseen:

Seeing is believing, they say. And sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see. Isn’t that true? Remember all the Abstract Nouns, and you’ll realize that these things sound more solid than their Concrete counterparts. e.g. Love, Faith, Honesty, Courage and a lot more.

The movie constantly deals with the theme of faith and belief. At this particular point, they were discussing about the existence of the angels. And this mentioned answer came in response to the boy’s question, “Did you see him?”


3. Being Sensitive, even to the Non-living:

There is this scene when they pass through a coach filled with forgotten and abandoned toys. The Conductor tells everyone to be careful and gentle to them as they have already suffered a lot.

If you’re a Toy Story fan, this scene hits all the right nerves. The point is not to love and be loved. The point is to be loving.


4. Making Decisions:

The Conductor relates this particular quote to trains as that is in line with his profession, but it certainly has reverberations beyond that.

One thing about trains: It doesn’t matter where they are going. What matters is deciding to get on. This also resembles one of the more popular quote – The journey is more important than the destination. Most of us make decisions keeping the destination in mind, and forget that it is actually the journey that makes the destination worthwhile or otherwise.


At the end of the movie, the boy receives a Christmas bell as a gift. The ringing of the bell can only be heard by those who have faith. Our belief in God, our confidence in the prayers, our trust in the divine, our faith in the unseen – all of it is like this particular bell. It rings… for those… who truly BELIEVE!

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