A person hits someone not expecting it. He picks a fight with someone who does not want to fight and who is not a claimed fighter. And this solves what? It makes the attacker feel better about him or herself. Literature has taught readers how protagonists rise against villains, who are a lot of times bullies in some way. These people have served as heroes to readers, both children and adults. What I think makes an interesting character is one who suffers the consequences of his or her actions. His or her decision will impact him or her in some way, considered bad or good, or both. For example, a character who takes justice in to his own hands by physically and/or emotionally attacking another character, because he thinks this character treats a friend poorly will in one or more ways be affected by what he does. At what cost does this character cause this upon him or herself?
Harry Potter is one of many characters who readers view as a hero. Oliver Twist in “Oliver Twist” is another. Although these two characters and their stories are completely different, they both make decisions that affect them, and result in developing their characters. There are many books about protagonists standing up against bully totalitarians, and to the basic school yard bully. It is how she or he decides to stand up against the bully, or bullies that will make the character. The result will bring empathy from readers, and someone to identify with. Identifying with characters is important, especially for children who are still opening their minds to the world around them. The consequences from the protagonist’s actions drive all of the characters and the story.
Why is a character a bully? She or he must have done something significant enough to become the “baddy”, or a group must have brought on the opposition and judgement against them. How the protagonist reacts to the bullies will determine his or her consequences, and how this character is viewed by readers. Possibly at one time the bully was a hero, changed to become someone else, just as the protagonist in the story could change to be the antagonist (bully), depending on his or her actions, and the reader’s view. For instance, a character responds by beating someone else up for being abusive to him or a friend, the consequences might be being arrested. Also, the question to why the abuse occurred in the first place isn’t resolved. If the bully is the type who likes to physically abuse someone, and is indeed attacking the character or someone the character loves, then the a physical reaction might bring about change in the antagonist(s). However, more than likely, there is something other than simply giving a bully a taste of his or her own medicine to learn why the bullying occurs. The bully will have to change him or herself. She or he will have to be made to realize how they have hurt others. At least some knowledge of the antagonist’s history can lead to comprehending why she or he hurts others, or even feeds off of other’s pain: physical, mental, or emotional. Literature is a lesson about real life scenarios people deal with. What example is best for kid readers?
It is healthy for kids to have a character to relate to and cheer for. Through fiction, role models can be created to show them how to deal with bullying, and other common issues. This is not to say adults can’t learn from fiction, too. I believe everyone needs a hero to look up to, to see themselves, and to compare oneself to.
Bullying may derive from a broken relationship. Some attempt by a person to alleviate the pain obtained from bullying in childhood might be to search out the bully, to see who he or she is as an adult. Bullies some time grow up to find solace by tracking down their grade school victims to apologize. Sometimes they may see their childhood bullying as justified.
Alex Abramovich wrote a memoir about tracking his bully, Trevor, a big biker dude, down. The interview with his story is found at the link below on NPR: