He already displays nontraditional characteristics in a male protagonist – he’s not strong, he doesn’t suppress his emotions, he’s not traditionally charming (although personally I find him adorable). He’s awkward around people and he seems to know it.
He was setting off my Autism-Radar (Autidar?) but as I’m not quite used to that sense yet I couldn’t figure out what it was that I was sensing. There was one particular scene where it clicked for me – when he’s gone down into the suitcase with the muggle. There’s this moment where, right after he scares the muggle with a beast, he sort of looks over his shoulder and sheepishly smiles.
That was what got me.
I don’t know why, but that smile, that smile, was what convinced me. I’m not good at reading facial expressions but somehow I keep seeing a lot in that one. Happiness, partially – pure joy at being in his safe space, with his special interest surrounding him – but also a touch of fear, and maybe some preemptive embarrassment. I’m probably projecting a little (a lot) of my own feelings onto him at that point, but I feel like I’ve been in that situation before. Sharing your special interest with someone, being scared they won’t like it, that they’ll judge you for it. Being embarrassed because you think you did something wrong, but you don’t know what, or because you know you’re about to do something wrong, but you still don’t know what it is, or how to stop it.
It breaks my heart.
I just want to hug him. He’s so small and fragile (projecting, projecting) and wants friends but doesn’t know how to make them (when one of the characters try to reassure Newt that someone out there probably likes him he says “No, not really, I’m annoying,”).
I’m probably over identifying with him a bit. It’s not canon in anyway. But I love the character so much despite that.