Who are the protagonist(s) in the short story "Passing of Grandison"? Explain why the character(s) are the protagonist(s)? Use evidence from the short story to support your answer.
The protagonist of a story is, in short, the main character—the primary person whose actions propel the plot and who earns the sympathies of the reader. In a certain sense, you can think of the protagonist as the "good guy."
In "The Passing of Grandison," it's tempting to say that Dick Owens is the protagonist, because his is the perspective from which the story is told. At first, we believe the central conflict is simply Dick's attempt to persuade Grandison to flee to Canada and be free, an act Dick is committing for the love of Charity Lomax, but it soon turns out to be much more about Grandison. I would even go so far as to say that Dick is a "false" protagonist in this story—we think the story will be about him, but once the action ramps up, he is no longer the sole focus of the story, nor is the reader sympathetic with his goals.
This is solidified in the perspective shift at the very end of the story, when instead of following Dick, we are following Grandison—from a distance, of course, as he indeed escapes to Canada with his entire family. Even though this happens at the very end of the story, we can still say that Grandison is the primary protagonist. Without Grandison, there would be no central conflict.
The reader gets behind Grandison and feels sympathy for him much more than for Dick—Dick's motivations for trying to free the slave are selfish and petty, while Grandison's refusal to escape is what evokes an emotional response in the reader: it's heartbreaking, until we learn his motivations. He is loyal to his family, dedicated not only to his own survival and happiness but to theirs as well, and the reader revels in his success at the end of the story. "The Passing of Grandison" turns out to be a story about Grandison's journey and Grandison's goal—and every protagonist must almost always have a goal and a journey.