This article discusses the literary character's plot function as an element of the author's rhetorical strategy, and in relation to the reader's active role in responding to that strategy. The main focus will be on characterological instances in narrative fiction that facilitate the development of the novel's plot by way of the character's movement, perspective, or moving perspective. These considerations will be brought to bear on James Phelan's rhetorical approach to the fictional character's basic functions, also known as the mimetic-thematic-synthetic model (MTS model). More precisely, this article will look harder at Phelan's so-called synthetic component of character, that is, those aspects that foreground the character as a construct (rather than as a possible person or a theme), to argue that much more work can be done with this category. In the course of this discussion, Henry James's notion of a ficelle and Vladimir Nabokov's term perry will serve as complementary ideas and as a counterpoint to Phelan's synthetic component. Hence this article will ask: how can we (re)integrate the plot-helper function into the rhetorical character theory?

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