How did Conor, as a character, change in Airman?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that Conor has a very difficult life in so many ways. After he witnesses the murder of the king, Nicholas, he is unjustly accused of the king's murder and thrown onto a prison island famed for its terrible conditions and the torture experienced by the prisoners. Conor is no different, and very quickly he experiences pain as he has never encountered it before as he is thrown into a pool of flesh-eating mites. However, it is clear that in spite of this torture and suffering, he develops as a character through all of these events, and changes a great deal. In particular, he strengthens in his own belief that he is different from the majority of humans:

Other men look up and down, left and right; but men like us are different. We are visionaries.

Conor's fascination with flying and with engineering thus separates him from the rest of those he is with. Conor's commitment to escape is shown through his visionary focus on building a flying machine to help him flee the prison island. Yet, the extent to which his character has changed is shown by his reluctance to leave because, as much as he is looking forward to seeing Isabella again and letting his father know he is alive, at the same time he feels he cannot leave without saving the kingdom from the cruel tyranny of Bonvillain, the man who threw him into prison in the first place. The change in Conor's character is thus cemented through his growing sense of responsibility towards those around him, and his inability to satisfy his own needs and wants without taking care of the needs of those he is with and feels responsibility towards. Being a visionary, as Conor comes to realise, is not a selfish occupation.

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