- An Interview with Kris Jaech
Kris Jaech is a nine-year-old fifth grader from Tacoma, Washington. He has always loved animals—cats, especially. Lately he has begun playing Dungeons and Dragons, and his mother has been reading him The Hobbit and starting The Lord of the Rings. This much I knew when we had our interview. Since I had recently talked with Lensey Namioka, I wanted to explore both Kris's concept of heroism and whether he knew any of the old tales and heroes that she had loved as a child. Would a boy of today's generation be at all familiar with the heroic traditions of the past?
SR: What do you think of when you hear the word hero? What comes into your mind?
KJ: Greek mythology.
SR: Any particular hero in Greek mythology?
SR: What does the guy look like that you visualize?
KJ: Blond, curly hair, with one of those pieces of twigs that go like that—
SR: Like a wreath around his head? Uh huh. What else does he look like?
KJ: He has sort of a white dress-like thing around his legs, white short sleeves like that—. Actually, now I'm thinking of a long forgotten place with elves and dwarves and a group of adventurers—elves and gnomes and normal people. Some of them have swords on the waist and armour—chain mail—and some of them just don't have any armour at all.
SR: And what about the hero? What is he like? [End Page 82]
KJ: Oh, all of them are the hero—just a group working together.
SR: Are there any famous heroes that you can think of?
KJ: I don't know. It can be some elf that nobody knows about, that just always suddenly appears when he's needed, fixes everything all up and then just strangely disappears.
SR: Someone mysterious. What does he do, exactly?
KJ: Well, he just pops out of nowhere. He sings a strange silly little song like elves always do. Fights off the enemy, then disappears.
SR: Do you think of a hero as someone who is a certain kind of being, or a person who has a certain kind of personality?
KJ: No. It could be a fat little stout guy that just wants to eat food—when suddenly something makes him want to go out on an adventure.
SR: And he becomes a hero by having adventures?
KJ: Yeah. Like The Hobbit .
SR: I had a feeling that you might be thinking of The Hobbit. Do you think of Bilbo as a hero?
KJ: Yeah. And the same thing with Frodo. I play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and everybody that plays it is a hero in a way. They make their own characters. My dad plays it also and he's a cleric. But he's a drunken cleric. He saved the day a few times, but he had a bucket of brandy on the side. He was always chugging a few gulps.
SR: What about your character? What is he like?
KJ: Well, he's a nice elf. He's a little selfish, though. He likes to keep whatever he finds. He wants everything that he finds. I remember once when I was playing, I kept looking in streams to find stuff. I looked in a dark, murky stream and couldn't see anything. Then my dad put a light spell on the molecules of the water and everything was luminous. Being a half-elf with keen eyes, I saw the stuff down there. Even though the cavalier got it, I still wanted it all. [End Page 83]
SR: Well, that seems natural. You saw it first.
KJ: I only got a sword and a shield, and everybody else got the other stuff.
SR: Is it important to you when you're playing that you are on the good side rather than the evil side?
KJ: No. You can be an evil hero if you want.
SR: But which would you rather be?
KJ: Well, in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, everybody thinks they're the good person. I mean, somebody who...