by KE Monahan Huntley

Wade Whitehouse (main character) is a small town sheriff afflicted by daily irritants and long term dysfunctions and there's just no way he can win. His story, narrated by younger brother, Rolfe, is sad but true and far too common -- but in Paul Shrader's screenplay (and film direction), adapted from Russell Banks' novel Affliction -- it is uncommonly and beautifully told.

Wade fights (mc approach-doer) for the affection of his alienated prepubescent daughter; he fights his ex-wife for child custody; he fights local politicos; he fights a toothache. Of most importance is his battle against the legacy (mc benchmark-past) of an alcoholic and brutal father:


Our stories, Wade's and mine, describe the lives of boys and men for thousands of years, boys who were beaten by their fathers, whose capacity for love and trust was crippled almost at birth and whose best hope (mc critical flaw), if any, for connection with other human beings lay in an elegiac detachment, as if life were over. It's how we keep from destroying in turn our own children and terrorizing the women who have the misfortune to love us; how we absent ourselves from the tradition of male violence (mc domain-universe); how we decline the seduction of revenge (ic concern-subconscious).

What is especially striking from a Dramatica point of view is the definitive example of a steadfast influence character, Wade's father. He is immovable in his fixed mindset (ic domain-mind) -- in one hand holding a bottle, in the other an upraised fist-symbolically holding out an alternative worldview Wade desperately seeks to avoid and to which he ultimately succumbs (mc resolve-change; judgment-bad).

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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