Which character is most sympathetic, rank the major characters from most to least sympathetic.
One of the great things about this novel is that there are so many points of view that the reader can sympathize with most of the major characters in some way. Much of what would determine any "ranking" system depends on yet another point of view--the reader's!
As a teacher, I naturally sympathize with Miss Narwin. Her goal of maintaining classroom discipline is reasonable, even commendable, from my viewpoint. Also, she is genuinely concerned about Philip, as we learn through her letters to her sister.
At the same time, I am the parent of two young teenagers, and can see Philip's perspective, as well. Adolsecence is a difficult time of life, and Philip is doing his best to navigate the rough waters. We read about the stresses he is experiencing at home, his desire to please his father, and his goals for his future as a track athlete.
Philip's parents are both working, struggling to balance careers with family obligations, and doing the best they can with the limited information they have about the unfolding drama with Philip and his school. Naturally, I sympathize with them as well.
In the end, Philip, Miss Narwin, and his parents can all be seen as victims: of the media, and of an inflexible school system determined to protect its image through politically correct posturing. I suppose the only people we really don't sympathize with are Dr. Seymour, the school superintendent, and Ted Griffin, the school board candidate, who uses the controversy to further his own political agenda.