So far, there have been two cases where I have been unable to stand the protagonist of a given work.

The first case was when, in my senior year of high school, I had to read Richard Wright's Native Son. At about page 98, as I recall, I lost all ability to stand the main character, Bigger Thomas. I read the comments following the main text (always a good idea when you are expected to regurgitate in class), and learned that I wasn't supposed to like the main character. I thought the author was brilliant for the method used until I learned it was supposedly because the main character was a black youth that was a monster. Sorry, but being a monster isn't enough to make me lose my respect for you.

The second case was when I watched the anime Grave of the Fireflies (Japanese title Hotaru No Haka). This was more gradual, but eventually I could not stomach Seita's inability to grasp the reality of the situation, making this anime a pain to watch. My wife and I continued to watch only because we had paid to rent it.

What did these two characters have in common? They were unable to grasp the realities of their situation well enough to take action -- any action. Both Bigger Thomas and Seita sort of drift, tossed around by fate. I didn't realize it at the time, but I guess I'm an adapt or die sort of person. If a character's only action seems to be a lack thereof, what makes them a character? The fact that they don't get it? Given the acclaim each of these works have, I ought to write a book about a guy stuck in a hospital bed. People come and go, telling him things and that he's getting worse, and at the end, he dies.

I suppose they're anti-heroes, but given their lack of action, I think they're null-heroes.

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