The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. He or she must usually overcome some opposing force. In this story, the protagonist is Reuben Land who believes he was revived at birth to be the witness to his father's miracles. He is also the narrator of the story, telling it from an adult perspective many years later. It is his analysis of the decisions his family members make that teach the reader many of the lessons Reuben learned himself.


The antagonist of a story is the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist does not always have to be a single character or even a character at all. There are several antagonists in this story. The first are the bullies, Israel Finch and Tommy Basco. Their torment of the people in Roofing, especially the Land family set off the events that eventually cost them and other people their lives. The second is the law. Members of law enforcement want to put Davy in jail and throw away the key. The Lands all have different reactions at various times in the story to the law, but they all eventually realize that there is nothing personal in their pursuit of Davy. The third antagonist is Jape Waltzer who wants to force his view on the entire world no matter who he hurts. He ends up killing Jeremiah and nearly killing Reuben and then escapes. The last antagonist is the inner character and decision maker within each of the characters in the Land family and those they impact upon. Their decisions have far reaching consequences that affect themselves and those they meet.


The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax occurs when Reuben is shot, dies, and visits what he calls the 'œother country.' He meets his Dad there and realizes later, after he's revived, that his father had bargained with God to die in Reuben's place.


The outcome is the final resolution of the story or the denouement. Reuben lives, with perfect lungs, but Jeremiah dies. Roxanna stays with them as their mother, and Sara continues to live with them as well. She later marries Reuben. Davy continues to live on the run, although at various times through the years, he meets up with Reuben in a little town in Canada. However, he never comes home again. Reuben tries to teach him about faith and miracles with his stories of his own. The final comment, however, is for the reader to whom he says, 'œMake of it what you will.'

Short Summary (Synopsis)

A young asthmatic boy named Reuben Land narrates the story of his family after his brother kills two bullies who had targeted them. His brother Davy is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison. His brother escapes from prison and heads for the Badlands in North Dakota. Reuben and his family then go on the road in search of the brother, and along the way, they learn the ways of God.

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Peace Like a River".