In Sexual Healing by Jill Nelson, who are the protagonists and antagonists?  How do they fit in the plot of the book?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Lydia and Acey are the protagonists of the novel.  They are the agents of action and the ones who lead the development of the plot.  Their desire to open what essentially amounts to a brothel is how the plot advances.  Lydia and Acey are the ones who recognize the fundamental problem, envision the solution, and deal with the challenges that present themselves. These protagonists understand the need to fulfill their sexual notion of self, and through their own experiences, they broaden their approach to include more women of color.  As they decide to open up a "spa," which is a euphemism for a brothel, a set of insightful and humorous developments emerge.  In both women, a convergence between sexual identity, race, and gender becomes evident.  It is here where I think that Lydia and Acey can be seen as the protagonists, or the leading figures of the novel.

In terms of the antagonist,  Barbaralee and the Reverend T. Terry Tige might serve in this capacity.  They are the forces that stand in the way of the full actualization of Lydia's and Acey's vision.  They can be considered as the antagonists because each displays a level of active hostility towards what Lydia and Acey want to do. Their role in the plot is to help develop the conflict in which Lydia and Acey must understand and acknowledge the obstacles that stand between them and the realization of their vision.  This is how both the antagonists and protagonists fit in the plot. 

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