The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman

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Who is the antagonist in The Midwife's Apprentice?

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The protagonist in a story is the main character who is in conflict with the antagonist, another character or force in the story. Alyce, the apprentice, is the protagonist, and she faces several conflicts in the story. One conflict is an inner one of feeling she lacks value to anyone, even herself. She has been treated unkindly all of her life, and she has no home or anyone to care about her, so Brat does what she must to survive. Her new name, Beetle, is given to her because she tries to keep warm in a dung heap.

The midwife knows she can use Beetle any way she wishes since she's homeless and uneducated. The midwife becomes the character protagonist that Beetle must struggle against. The midwife abuses Beetle and treats her like a slave.  But Beetle has, for the first time in her life, some kind of stability in her life, and she won't give it up. Becoming "Alyce", she now begins to see that she can be worthy of delivering babies, and she also realizes that learning to read gives a person power. She runs away, however, the first time she can't deliver a baby because she's afraid to fail. She meets Magister Reese, who teaches her to read, and her confidence begins to return. When he asks her what she wants, she tells him she wants to have food to eat, a happy heart, and to find where she belongs in the world. When the midwife comes looking for her, Alyce realizes midwifery is her purpose.

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Who are the main characters in The Midwife's Apprentice?

Jane, the midwife, saves "Brat", the young girl at the beginning of the story, from boys who are taunting the young girl for sleeping in a dung heap. Jane is a greedy, proud woman who shows little compassion for anyone, so she doesn't save "Brat" out of the kindness of her heart. Jane needs someone to work for her and figures the young girl is so desperate she'll do whatever she's told. She renames the girl "Beetle" and uses and abuses her. Beetle's only friend is a cat named Purr that she saved from the abuse of some boys. Beetle is young, eager to learn, and compassionate, whereas Jane is hardened to life's problems. Beetle later takes the name Alyce. Will Russet is a boy who used to torment Alyce, but she saves him from drowning, and he becomes her friend. Magister Reese is a man Alyce meets when she runs away and goes to work at the inn. He helps restore Alyce's confidence.
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Who is the protagonist in The Midwife's Apprentice?

The protagonist of  The Midwife's Apprentice begins with the least promising future you could imagine in any character, yet by the end of the novel “she has moved far beyond the desperate struggle just to survive and become a person who knows ."  She is known in the beginning only as Brat, but  after she digs herself into a village dung heap to keep warm the local boys torment her with cries of '"Dung beetle! Dung beetle! Smelly old dung beetle sleeping in the dung.'" A woman comes by, scatters the taunting boys, awards Brat the new name Beetle, and meagerly feeds the starving girl in exchange for work.  Beetle becomes the apprentice to the greedy, mean and often cruel midwife, Jane.  She eventually becomes known as Alyce.

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Who is the protagonist in The Midwife's Apprentice?

The protagonist in this book is Brat who is later called Beetle  and finally takes the name Alyce.  The protagonist is always the central figure or main character in the book. 

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