I present to you today Penny Wise. Penny Wise is a fairly new character to adventures in Odyssey, introduced in album 53 The Green Ring Conspiracy. While some people think of her as Wooton's long lost fraternal twin, or soul mate, there's more to Penny than meets the eye...well ear. When we first hear from Penny in Part three of GRC,she perks our interest a little right away with her name.
Connie: Like Penny Wise and a Pound of Foolish?
Penny: Yes and I guess Connie Kendall goes with the expression Connie Kendall kicked a copper kettle carelessly.
Connie: That's an expression really?
Penny: No, But I think every name should have an expression to go with it don't you?
Connie: Well i never really thought about it.
Penny: you would if you had a name like Penny Wise.
This is more or less just friendly chit chat, to introduce us to Penny. However, does it also tell us more? Perhaps she's insecure about her name, which is why she comes up with expressions for people's names. Maybe as a child she got chased around the playground with kids chanting:
"Penny Wise has a pound of foolish, fill her up with a bowl of goulash." or something. Maybe she's considering getting a name change because of all the torment she got as a child, and the hassle she gets even now. And maybe this directly influences her behavior. Perhaps, because she has a unique name she feels the need to live up to a unique personality too.
While a name connects with a person, there's more to Penny than her name. Connie meets Penny in an art class, and art is one way that Penny uses her uniqueness and expresses herself. She constantly encourages Connie to be confident in herself, but how confident is Penny? When approached by Detective Polehaus she gets nervous and fidgety.(Part 5) This is a normal response when asked to be questioned by an officer or authority figure, however Penny didn't have anything to be nervous about. She confesses to going through an intersection that changed to red as she was going through. Penny seems to be quick to talk and easily guilted into doing so. Also as far as confidence goes, when asked to go into further questioning, she asks for Connie to come along to, for moral support.
In Part 6, Penny Wise meets Wooton Bassett. Until this point, Penny presented herself as quirky sure, but Wooton effects her in a way she might not realize. Is it that Penny is too much like Wooton? Or does Penny purposely change her behavior around Wooton to reflect what he would like? At the carnival even when she's around Wooton she has more energy and Wooton does too. This can be answered with one phrase: Crush at first sight. Later in Part 8, Connie asks Penny about it and she confirms that she likes him. And the tone expressed in her voice is genuine too. (Well acting.) Then Connie mentions that she doesn't want to be a third wheel, and Penny's response is "You're more like training wheels." Penny feels more comfortable having Connie around with her and Wooton than them being alone, but covers this up by continuing with "I want to get to know both of you better.
In Part 9 Penny shows a side we haven't really seen yet. In Trask's study group, Penny explains to Connie that while waiting on Dr. Trask she likes to meditate on the crack in the window. She says that sometimes we wind up focusing on the imperfections in front of us and miss the perfections beyond. She continues and points out to Connie that outside the window to a tree with a birds nest in it. This side of Penny expresses that she is is smarter than she sometimes lets on. She thinks in ways that not everyone would understand without explanation. Penny is also easily misguided. Dr. Trask's whole "Bible group" was grounded in false teaching and she did't really see it until Connie pointed it out. She thinks, but is greatly influenced by outside forces. Connie expresses her thoughts about the meeting, but Penny seems to change the subject rather quickly and says they can discuss it on their hike the next day.
Throughout the GRC, Penny brings up the idea of Connie starting a buisiness selling reproductions of artwork. This shows that Penny isn't easily swayed from an idea. Then in Part 11, Connie reveals to Penny that Trask might be part of a ring of counterfeiters. Penny is devastated and immediately starts leading the way to talk to Trask. It seems that Penny's personality pushes her to action even though it may be risky and not all the way thought out.
In A Penny Saved we see just how the GRC has effected Penny. She's lost and nobody wants to hire her because she testified against Dr. Trask. But instead of asking her friends for help she tries to handle things for herself. She wants to be independent, and this problem often gets in the way with anybody. When the officer finds her at McCalister Park, she seems really helpless and at this point perhaps she's resigned to this fact. She doesn't phone her parents probably for the same reason she didn't ask Connie or Wooton for help; Wanting to remain independent. She figures out how to work her trunk, and gets really excited about it. This along with other things, shows that Penny finds excitement in the small things in life.
A Penny Earned brings Connie and Penny together as roommates. We see some personality clashes, and Penny's need to express her creativity. She goes on a job search. Her major fault with being Eugene's teaching assistant is that she's a little naive, and doesn't think things all the way through. Although she does sympathize with others, and has a longing to help. In the art gallery her focus is more about what she likes. (Though the customer was completely art challenged.) For that job to work, she'd need more tolerance for other people think, even if it's something as ridiculous as wanting the sign for the men's room. Penny's hate for goodbyes is a little extreme... I mean, to go as far as climbing down the fire exit to avoid Wooton. She saying that she couldn't say good bye to anyone, makes it seem like she's quick to avoid tough situations, and explanations. Her getting a job at an Art Gallery suits her though.
Because of her experience with Dr. Trask, she naturally begins to question her judgement. Upon finding a book, she turns to it's judgement for help; judging body language. Again she's quick to take an idea and flow with it.
Penny Wise is a unique individual. And from her experiences, we can infer the following things also noted above.
1. Penny may be lacking in self confidence.
2. Penny's judgment isn't always the best.
3. She's perky and often tries see the best in people and situations.
Overall, Penny is a great person. Flipping back to viewing her as a character, her use has been great. After the hiatus, Odyssey was beginning to run into a problem. The lack of regular adult characters. Sure they had Eugene, Connie, Whit, and Wooton and then the Parker and Jones parents. But before the hiatus we had all sorts of characters such as, the Allens, Bernard Walton, and the Rathbones. Bringing Penny into the show has added more balance to the character arrangement. And one could say that since Connie isn't getting married anytime soon, introducing a female peer is the perfect thing for both her and the show.
What do you think of Penny? What do you think of this article? Boring? Not the right approach? Let me know what you think.
This has been Freddy Jay connecting the gap between Odyssey and YOU!