So far, there have been two cases where I have been unable to stand the
protagonist of a given work.
The first case was when, in my senior year of high school, I had to
read Richard Wright's Native Son. At about page 98, as I recall, I lost
all ability to stand the main character, Bigger Thomas. I read the comments
following the main text (always a good idea when you are expected to regurgitate in class),
and learned that I wasn't supposed to like the main character. I thought the author was brilliant
for the method used until I learned it was supposedly because the main character was a black youth
that was a monster. Sorry, but being a monster isn't enough to make me lose my respect for you.
The second case was when I watched the anime Grave of the Fireflies (Japanese
title Hotaru No Haka).
This was more gradual, but eventually I could not stomach Seita's inability
to grasp the reality of the situation, making this anime a pain to watch. My wife and I
continued to watch only because we had paid to rent it.
What did these two characters have in common? They were unable to grasp the realities
of their situation well enough to take action -- any action. Both Bigger Thomas and
Seita sort of drift, tossed around by fate. I didn't realize it at the time, but I
guess I'm an adapt or die sort of person. If a character's only action seems
to be a lack thereof, what makes them a character? The fact that they
don't get it? Given the acclaim each of these works have, I ought to write a book
about a guy stuck in a hospital bed. People come and go, telling him things and that he's getting worse,
and at the end, he dies.
I suppose they're anti-heroes, but given their lack of action,
I think they're null-heroes.