Yesterday I posted a character description of Raoul. He is the second main character of the novel and interacts closely with Liz, who is the protagonist of the story and the main character. It is only fitting that I introduce Liz to you now.
Liz Crowning is a graduate student of Cognitive Neurobiology at Boston University in her early twenties. She comes from well-to-do white, Anglo-Saxon, American stock with her father a lawyer and her mother dabbling in painting. Her family lives in San Diego, and by studying in Boston, Liz picked a place as far as possible away from them. Liz has a younger brother, Luke. Even though they rarely meet more than once a year at Thanksgiving, theirs is a close and trusting relationship. Liz feels very protective of Luke while Luke is very proud of his elder sister. When they are together they spend most of their time without hardly a word exchanged between them.
Passing Liz by on the street, without paying too much attention, you’d think she was a lanky lad. Her short cropped hair dyed grey would have gained her acceptance into any of the military branches were it not for the tattoo on the side of her neck, which read “肏” or “fuck off” in Chinese. A broad, sensuous mouth, whose lips are absolute strangers to lipstick, belies the sometimes scathing, mostly well considered and always curt remarks that she is want to use. Liz couldn’t care less about dress code. All she ever wears are baggy pants and t-shirts with sometimes disturbing messages on them. Liz has an extremely strong sense for right and wrong; in this respect, her world is one of black and white. She simply isn’t made for compromises and can’t understand how other people can compromise on their ideals.
Her research into cognitive neurobiology is in the area of sleep and the ability to dream in mammals. Currently she is doing working with dogs and monkeys as part of her thesis work. Dream research and quantum computing has helped to make huge advances in her field so that under some conditions, the emotional content of dreams can be visualized on screen. This being only the first step, some are already speculating that once dreams can be deciphered more accurately, it will become subsequently possible to synthesize dreams and implant them into other peoples’ minds. This, however, is still thought to be decades in the future.
The animals Liz works, three dogs by the names Leila, Noob and Raisin, have become dear to her. She sees in them friends and treats them as individuals.
Liz is driven by a fierce sense of right and wrong. In deciding between those two categories, she is guided by her own moral compass which is not necessarily always aligned with any book of law or social norm. Being the unapproachable, abrasive and unpredictable oddball is a role which she feels quite comfortable in, most of the time. Sometimes, however, she suffers from the loneliness it comes with. When she feels like this, she tends to drink too much and seeks comfort and understanding by being with her three dogs at the university. Her worst fear is not being noticed, and in this sense she is actually vain.
The horrific memories of being raped once as a teenager has made her impervious to amorous advances of any kind. She shuns any sexual contact and harbors a deep mistrust of men.