Here's a quick way to spot the protagonist in just about any story. First, open your book. Then, ask yourself: Does the book use the word "I" a lot? In other words, is the story told by someone telling you about him or herself?
Protagonist Rule #1
If the answer is "yes": You're done! There's your protagonist! In this case, he or she is the narrator, showing you how his or her actions move the story along.
And if you don't find an "I"?
Protagonist Rule #2
Look for the person whose name is mentioned the most—perhaps whose name is even in the title.
Seriously—it's almost always that obvious. (Yes, there are exceptions: Check out this exception to the protagonist rules.)
So what exactly is a protagonist? The answer lies with the Greek roots of the word itself: prōtos ‘first in importance’ + agōnistēs ‘actor.’ Yes, the protagonist is the most important character in the story. But, more than that, the protagonist is the focus of the story. To put it another way, the story is about the protagonist. So if you trying to see what a story is about, the first step is to find that story's protagonist.
Now that you know who the protagonist is, think of him or her as your traveling companion. You're going to go on a journey with this character. Sometimes it's from one physical location to another, and sometimes it's from some emotional place to another. Whatever the journey, you're going to watch that character change. And that's because of this last thing—you might call it the most important point about a book's protagonist.
To really understand that main character, you need to understand what he or she wants. What's the protagonist's problem or issue and how are they going to solve it. The protagonist's motivation is what gets the journey going—and hopefully will motivate you to read that book.
Next: Satire in Literature.
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Find the complete eight video guide to literary terms here.
Also at Recap Resource:
Get a Thesis Statement
Get an Ending
Make it Sing!
Thesis Statements: Four Steps
Pick your topic
Focus your presentation
Write your script
Choose your props
Create your graphics
What to do once you're done