Please provide examples from "American History" for the following different character types: static, dynamic, and flat.

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cofer's "American History" does have an example character for each of the following character types: static, dynamic, and flat. First, a static character is defined as one who does not change over the course of the story. Elena's mother is a good example of a static character because she does not change her mind or personality about anything that happens in the story. She is, however, the one person who warns Elena of what she has already learned in her life--that there is an order to social circles. When Elena prefers to go to a study date rather than mourn the loss of President Kennedy, her mother says the following:

"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's mother does not change her mind on the issue. She does not tell her daughter something that is untrue to comfort her self-esteem. She tells her the truth by warning her, but she will be there for Elena when she returns heartbroken.

Elena does return heartbroken, which is also how she becomes the dynamic character of the story. When she goes to see Eugene, she is met by his mother who turns her away for being Puerto Rican and poor. This verbal slap in the face does humiliate Elena and she returns home realizing that her mother was right. Dynamic characters undergo a change in personality or mindset and as Elena sits in her room after experiencing rejection based on prejudice she cannot control, she changes. When she looks out the window again, she does not look down at the house where the boy lives.

Finally, flat characters are useful because of the narrative purpose they bring to the story, but they are not described fully. Mr. DePalma is a flat character. He is easily recognizable for his status as a P.E. teacher, but his life is not described. His narrative purpose is to be the one who tells the class about President Kennedy's death and to send the kids home. He also cries, which represents what a lot of people felt on that day.