Who is the protagonist?

Look, we all know we’re living in some dystopian novel, probably written by Donald Westlake, but maybe Vonnegut.

So everything that is happening, is happening, as they say in LA, for a Reason.  (The Universe/God closes a door but opens a window?)  This is generally true because people in LA who say such things tend to live storybook lives with plots and things.

We’re in a plot and someone is being punished ironically.  Or is being given strife in order to have Character Growth.  Or maybe the universe is on its way to being destroyed so that they can save it.

But who?  Who is the protagonist?  And WHY?

I know it’s not me– my life is too boring and I no longer have enough cats to be a cozy animal novel (which I have decided after much pondering this question is my ideal novel to live in).  So it can’t be my fault for deciding to not only go to DH’s family thing this summer but to also have an actual vacation for our anniversary when we NEVER go on vacations that aren’t work or DH’s-family related.  I didn’t make the universe’s sense of irony do this, simply because I am not at all important.  My narrative is supremely uninteresting.  Nobody wants to read about me.  I’m a side character in someone else’s book.

Who do you think is the protagonist?  What kind of novel are you the protagonist of/a character in?

29 Responses to “Who is the protagonist?”

  1. Michael N Nitabach Says:

    I feel like I’m the protagonist in some shitty 9000 page Thomas Pynchon novel that everyone pretends to have read but no one can get past the first hundred pages cause it’s so fucken shitty & unreadable.

  2. Bardiac Says:

    The pointless, poorly edited version of “Dear Committee Members”. . .

  3. becca Says:

    This is the remake of Contact for the microbiologist set. That one virologist working for NIH who is on twitter talking about the Moderna trial is Dr. Ellie Arroway.

  4. delagar Says:

    I’m teaching the SF novel this semester. During one of the sessions, I was explaining dystopian novels, and putting the characteristics for a dystopia up on the whiteboard, and when I was about 3/4 of the way through my students began to protest and cry out: “BUT, BUT, BUT — Dr. Jennings, that’s uS!”

    Which, yeah.

  5. CG Says:

    Is Dr. Fauci one of the misfits?

  6. Leah Says:

    I feel like I’m living in 1984. One’s life does not have to be particularly dramatic or interesting to be a protagonist in that book. The double speak I’m hearing everywhere is mind boggling, and I don’t understand how short some people’s memories must be to not recognize the double speak.

  7. K Says:


    Sorry, I know these are unrelated to your post but this infuriates me beyond belief.

    Any protest right now should lean the other way….aggressively calling out the president and all of the stupid that preceded this pandemic and exploded after and presently. I feel like I am not exposed to enough challenge, anger and opposition to this(these)shit for brains in the white house.
    But maybe that’s partially due to all of the isolation. *sigh
    Anon in mass

  8. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I’m simply not interesting enough to be the protagonist of any novel, nor do I have enough animals to qualify under an animal topic. :)

  9. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    There’s gotta be a plucky orphan somewhere who will round up an eclectic group of new friends and eventually triumph in their quest, right? I think the main problem is we’re drastically over supplied with villains; we may need multiple protagonists to counter the sheer level of “It’s one banana, what could it cost, ten dollars?”

  10. monsterzero Says:

    Definitely a Vonnegut novel. And I’m pretty sure Trump is the reason the universe exists. I mean, just ask him, I’m sure he’ll confirm.

    He’s the tragic hero forced to do bad things by the chemicals in his brain.

  11. CG Says:

    This post somehow reminded me of To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I think I first read on your recommendation, so I started reading it again. So great!

  12. Caitlyn Cardetti (@CaitlynCardetti) Says:

    Haha. This gave me a good chuckle because I’m convinced we are all kind of stuck in the story of that trickster genie who grants your wish but not in the way you expect and you regret it. At the beginning of the quarantine, I teased my partner that he’s getting everything he asked for – not having to spend money for all the social events on the schedule (lots of weddings/bachelor parties) but it was a punishment because he loves socializing and misses his Friday nights with the guys. I wanted a break/vacation from grad school but couldn’t afford one (time-wise and financially) and look what I got…

  13. Caitlyn Cardetti (@CaitlynCardetti) Says:

    Oh to answer the question. The protagonist is the genie. We’re just all insignificant sentences that hopefully add up to a story of change and better appreciation although that’s the lesson, tbd if anyone learns it.

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