If All Else Fails. . .
". . . some of the most primal basic, most primal patterns known to humans, exactly as Homer did all those centuries before. The need to protect one's family:Hector. The need to maintain one's dignity: Achilles. The determination to remain faithful and to faith: Penelope. The struggle to remain home: Odysseus. Homer gives us the four great struggles of the human being: with nature, with the divine, with other humans, and with ourselves. What is there, after all, against which we need to prove ourselves but those four things?- Thomas C. Foster How to Read Literature Like a Professor-Chapter. 9
What else is really out there for us to prove ourselves against? Just as demonstrated in Foster's book, these battles are the ones that show up continuously in the novels we read from day to day. These struggles are the ones that are identified first and in a sense used as safety nets when analyzing works. We tend to pick at the main characters and focus on either their good qualities or flaws sometimes ignoring the setting and other small details that make the stories what they are.