Morris the Florist (and company), The Pushcart War
In Merrill’s most well-known novel, a group of New York City pushcart peddlers led by Morris the Florist do battle with the tyrannical trucking companies, armed only with a pack of pea-shooters (good for flattening tires) and their wits. Literally a David and Goliath story expanded to a whole cast of characters, only with a satisfyingly populist bent, this is the classic underdog story writ large — and writ clever.
Lennie Small, Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck can’t seem to write anything but underdogs — his backlist is full of the poor, the failing, and the unlikely to succeed. Often, since he’s a realist, they don’t — but that doesn’t make them any less wonderful to read about. We could have chosen many of Steinbeck’s characters, but we love poor, simple Lennie, whose own sweetness is his undoing.
Frodo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings
But of course. Who would have expected that a simple hobbit — whose main skills were, as all hobbits, eating and living peacefully — could save the world? Well, we all expected it, of course, because it’s a fantasy epic, but none of the rest of the characters in the books were particularly sure.
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