Problematic Protagonists

“You need to get back,” he said, hardly needing to raise his voice to be heard over the wind.
“I have to find him!”
“Find him from up top,” he said, taking her other arm and physically pushing her from the water’s edge.
She hated the way he put his hands on her, but he had her by eight inches and probably fifty pounds of muscle. Besides, kicking up a fuss would only cause more delay. “I need the line of sight.”
“We don’t know what happened to him. Get away from the water! Don’t you know what flash flood means?”
“Of course I do,” she snapped back, offended.
He picked her up and moved her back a foot. This time she slapped his hands away.
Thankfully, he didn’t seem to mind. “Go!”
Shaking with anger and fear — for herself and for Connor — she trekked back up to the top of the cliff. Her feet slid out from beneath her several times as the mud gave way, but somehow she managed to stay upright.

This is a brief portion of chapter 23 of my work in progress, a science fiction novel that hit the 40,000 word mark (halfway!) last night, if you close your eyes and squint to avoid the fact that the .doc also has little blurb summaries for each chapter so that I know what the hell was supposed to happen, for outlining purposes.

I think that looking at this exchange really emphasizes how much things like rape culture and harassment have become pervasive issues in my little corner of the blogosphere — which is to say, the part I patronize, not the part I take part in, as I am a very small zoo-plankton in a very large sea. I don’t think I would have written in this little bit of characterization if it wasn’t on my mind, and I’m very glad I did, because while I like Trevon as a character, he knows very well he has anger issues and as much as he tries to compensate, he is a dangerous man.

It’s a difficult line to make a protagonist (this story has a five man band cast with point of view alternating on a chapter basis) both problematic and likable, and Trevon’s struggles with his aggression and upbringing make him, I hope, a powerful character. Breaking a cycle of abuse — of any kind — is a difficult thing and I really want to do it justice.

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2 thoughts on “Problematic Protagonists

  1. It looks good to me. I like the Trevon character (as far as I’ve read at least). Complicated characters are great fun to unfold to the reader, and to turn misconceptions on their head.

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