My writing group had a spirited discussion last night about the elements of sympathetic versus unsympathetic characters. It began when I described a scene in the book I'm writing, a scene that I believed illustrated a sympathetic female character but which most other members of my group felt showed, instead, an unsympathetic one. And so, without saying what my own choices were, I offer the following situation and ask you, my blogleagues, what you think. Here it is.
A woman's son was kidnapped when he was about ten and held by the kidnapper for four years. He was molested repeatedly but was eventually found and returned home. He is physically OK but certainly not psychologically well, and he runs away from home himself after about a year, leaving a note to his parents saying: "I'm sorry, but I just can't stay here. Don't worry." For further information, the woman's husband is not a factor, but the woman believes that the molester is still on the loose. Now, my question is: what would a realistic woman and mother do in this situation? What would she do immediatelly? And what would she do over the next four or five days?
Any help would be appreciated.