If you're a fan of O'Connor, how do you think she makes unsympathetic main characters work? Generally, unsympathetic main characters need to in some way (a) care about other characters, and/or (b) be cared for by other characters. Yet O'Connor breaks this rule, and (at least for me) makes it work. At least for literary characters. In genre fiction you can get away with substituting competence or a cool premise. See James Bond (competence) or a lot of scifi (cool premise).

Part of it is that all of us are in some way bad people to someone–to ourselves if we're honest. But O'Connor is odd in that the way she gets us to sympathize with her characters isn't obvious. Ignatius in Confederacy of Dunces is hilarious, and extremely proactive and convinced of his awesomeness. Rob Ryan in In the Woods is a clever detective, his partner has affection for him, and he's got a hell of a mysterious backstory. The godfather Don Corleone pets a cat (groan), calls down justice on a rapist, and is loyal to his family.

But O'Connor's characters don't usually have affection for anyone, aren't liked by anyone, have timid convictions, murder people, etc. Yet I love her characters. How does she pull this off?

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