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Clearly the character any person identifies with most is going to depend on a number of different factors, such as their own stage in life and their life experiences. I think for me the character that resonates most with my stage in life is Tom in the way that he seems trapped between family obligations and duty and also his desire to escape and make the most of his life. Note the following quote that he says to Jim:
I’m starting to boil inside. I know I seem dreamy, but inside—well, I’m boiling! Whenever I pick up a shoe, I shudder a little thinking how short life is and what am I doing! Whatever that means, I know it doesn’t mean shoes—except as something to wear on a traveler’s feet!
Tom is unfortunately trapped in a job that is killing his soul, which he feels to be the most important part of him. He is fully cognisant of the fact that life is incredibly short and he is wasting his life and his opportunity to make something of himself and to follow his soul. He may not be the most practical of individuals, and certainly his act in abandoning his sister and mother to their fate without his help is something that could lead to a negative reading of his character, but I appreciate the romantic leanings within Tom that won't let him settle for second best and a life of drudgery in a shoe shop when he expects and wants so much more from life.
Personally, I identify most with Tom. Tom is someone who loves his family very dearly, but loves his dreams even more. He stayed all these years to help support his mom and sister. Which shows compassion. Although, Tom is a dreamer, quite ambitious. He loves to write, and wants to become a writer. In the end, he ended up leaving his family to follow his dreams. I would do the same, as I am a dreamer too.
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