Im trying to write an essay on how a certain author used these stereotyped characters to achieve his purpose rather than using unconventional characters.
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One popular book, taught mostly in middle school up to 9th grade, is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Though the book and the story itself are truly well written and wonderful, the entire book is full of conventional (or stereotyped) characters, and frankly, stereotypical situations/conflicts.
Melinda: The main character is the average girl in her average up-state New York high school. She's neither popular nor overly "nerdy." She would blend in almost anywhere, but probably be okay with that. She is raped by the popular boy in the school (Andy, aka "IT" and "Beast"). He has likely gotten away with this before because of his charm and popularity.
Her parents are struggling with marital problems (typical upper-middle class issues) which contributes to Melinda's teen-aged unhappiness (and complicates the rape issue).
Her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, who is struggling with the school board cuts to the art department, is the one teacher who really reaches out to Melinda when she's in the throws of depression. He encourages her to use art to express her pain.
David Petrakis: Melinda's "nerdy" biology lab partner who turns out to become a close friend and potential new love interest.
Simply by looking at this brief list of prominent characters, it is easy to see how conventional this story is. Each of the supporting characters are equally conventional and stereotypical. It is a short book and a quick read. The ending is fairly predictable. Nonetheless, it is a very good book and one that I find myself recommending over and over, because through the conventionality of the characters and the story, the author manages to reflect authentic teen-aged emotions with which most middle school and high school kids readily identify.
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