How is Elena a round character in Cofer's short story "American History"?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A round character is one who is fully delineated. That means that the character's personality, circumstances, motives, and background are explained in detail. Other definitions also include that round characters face moral dilemmas from which they must make difficult choices. Elena's character falls under both definitions because not only do readers find out about her background as a Puerto Rican American, but also about her dreams, goals, and feelings. Then, Elena faces a moral dilemma: Should she stay home on the day of President Kennedy's assassination to attend church with her mother, or go next door for a study date with the boy she likes? Elena's mother pleads with her as follows:

"You are forgetting who you are, Nina. I have seen you staring down at that boy's house. You are heading for humiliation and pain."

Elena chooses to go to "that boy's" house instead of attending church that night. Things don't turn out the way Elena hopes, though, and she goes home disappointed because her friend's mother does not allow her to enter the home or to continue being friends with her son for prejudiced reasons. It is after this disappointing episode that Elena then turns into a dynamic character, one who changes because of a moral dilemma, and she gives up chasing dreams that might lead her to "humiliation and pain" again. 

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American History

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