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  • Writer's picturenikiflorica

"Be over-rejoiced. To be sure!"

Mr. Omer, the most jovial coroner I've ever known, is not an overly significant character in Dickens' David Copperfield, but like most of the characters that come and go between the pages of Dickens' narratives, he's there for a purpose, and does not fail to touch this reader's heart.

Mr. Omer is not a healthy man. A coroner who, like the protagonist, ages years over the course of the story, he boasts a respiratory system that is so very weak, just laughing is a semi-hazardous activity. By the end of the book he's confined to a wheelchair, too breathless to function on his own two feet and devoid of the use of his limbs. But what does he say about his predicament? "It's a most uncommon chair to smoke a pipe in."

Something struck me in this character that Dickens created, a character most would likely deem irrelevant. Mr. Omer is among the most jovial characters in the entire book (a book in which there is no shortage of characters, by-the-bye) and he has something good to say about every circumstance, from bad health, to the wheelchair to which he is confined.

"'I see more of the world, I can assure you ... in this chair, than ever I see out of it. You'd be surprised at the number of people that looks in of a day to have a chat ... There's twice as much in the newspaper, since I've taken to this chair, as there used to be. As to general reading, dear me, what a lot of it I do get through!"(Dickens)

As for losing the use of his limbs:

'"If it had been my eyes, what should I have done? If it had been my ears, what should I have done? Being my limbs, what does it signify? Why, my limbs only made my breath shorter when I used 'em."' (Dickens)

It's funny, I spent months chipping away at Copperfield, popping in every now and then to visit Mr. Omer in his coroner's shop, but never fully appreciated this character until his last appearance in the book. I mean, what an inspiration! What a ray of sunshine! "My limbs only made my breath shorter when I used 'em". Clearly a glass-half-full kind of guy, and a top-notch example, to be sure.

Mr. Omer inspires me, to be thankful, to choose joy, and to do the world a kindness in the process. To finish with his words: "Let us always do a kindness, and be over-rejoiced. To be sure!"

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