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Character Interactions. Feature Menu. The Protagonist The Antagonist Conflict Subordinate Characters Dynamic Characters Static Characters Motivation Practice. The Protagonist. The protagonist is the main character and the focus of readers’ attention. A good protagonist.

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Character Interactions


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character interactions
Character Interactions

Feature Menu

The Protagonist

The Antagonist

Conflict

Subordinate Characters

Dynamic Characters

Static Characters

Motivation

Practice

the protagonist
The Protagonist

The protagonist is the main character and the focus of readers’ attention. A good protagonist

  • is complicated and contradictory, like a real person
  • has both strengths and weaknesses

[End of Section]

the antagonist
The Antagonist

The antagonist is the force that blocks the protagonist from getting what he or she wants. The antagonist may be

  • another character
  • a nonhuman force

[End of Section]

conflict
Conflict

Conflict is a struggle that occurs when the protagonist must find a way to overcome or get around the antagonist.

Conflicts drive plots, create suspense, and intrigue readers.

conflict5
Conflict

External conflict occurs between a character and some outside force, such as

  • another character or group of characters
  • the society the protagonist must live in
  • a force or feature of nature
conflict6
Conflict

Internal conflict occurs when a character struggles with opposing needs, desires, or emotions. The character may

  • have to make a difficult decision
  • wrestle with fear or worry
conflict7
Conflict

Quick Check

What kind of conflict does Jing-mei face?

And after seeing my mother’s disappointed face again, something inside me began to die. I hated the tests, the raised hopes and failed expectations. Before going to bed that night, I looked in the mirror above the bathroom sink and when I saw only my face staring back—and that it would always be this ordinary face—I began to cry. Such a sad, ugly girl! I made high-pitched noises like a crazed animal, trying to scratch out the face in the mirror.

from “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan

[End of Section]

subordinate characters
Subordinate Characters

Subordinate characters populate the protagonist’s world. Their relationship with the protagonist helps

  • reveal the protagonist’s character
  • develop the plot and add complexity to the story

[End of Section]

dynamic characters
Dynamic Characters

Dynamic characters change or grow as a result of the story’s action. They

  • are main characters
  • gain a new understanding, make an important decision, or take a crucial action
  • help reveal the meaning of the story

Believable changes

[End of Section]

static characters
Static Characters

Static characters are usually exactly the same as the story ends as they were when it began. They

  • are almost always subordinate characters
  • support the plot without distracting readers from the main action—the protagonist’s conflict and growth

[End of Section]

motivation
Motivation

Writers make characters believable by revealing what motivates them to act as they do. A character’s motivation

  • is based on his or her needs or conflicts
  • reveals why characters act, feel, and think as they do
  • must usually be inferred from clues in the story
motivation12
Motivation

Quick Check

What motivates Jing-mei?

I looked at my reflection, blinking so I could see more clearly. The girl staring back at me was angry, powerful. This girl and I were the same. I had new thoughts, willful thoughts, or rather thoughts filled with lots of wont’s. I won’t let her change me, I promised myself. I won’t be what I’m not.

from “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan

[End of Section]

practice
Practice

Work with a partner to analyze a short story you have recently read. Use a data bank like the one shown here.

[End of Section]