How does the narrator in Sredni Vashtar encourage the reader to empathize with the protagonist?
There are several traits that Conradin himself possesses which are cause for the reader's sympathy. There are also other characteristics of the cousin/guardian which provide a reason for the reader to feel empathy or, at least, sad concern for Conradin in his misfortune.
To Conradin, his guardian named Mrs. De Ropp,
represented those three-fifths of the world that are necessary and disagreeable and real; thwarting him "for his good" was a duty which she did not find particularly irksome.
Mrs. De Ropp seems determined to prevent Conradin's happiness as she "thwarts him for his good." For instance, when the cousin notices that Conradin makes numerous trips to a forgotten old shed hidden by an overgrowth of shrubbery, she investigates by entering the shed where she discovers "a ragged-plumaged Houdan hen."
At this point in the narrative, the reader's sympathies are aroused with the discovery that there is a distinctively pretty Houdan hen, "on which the boy lavished an affection that...
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