A Short Story, Before Inserting Plot
Consider a short story about two people. In broad outlines, it is the story of tremendous wealth and privilege, and tremendous poverty and oppression.
One of the characters is born into tremendous wealth and power, receives the best possible education, healthcare, etc. The other is born into squalor, receives at best an inferior education, healthcare, and is always hungry. And let’s assume a simple relationship between the two… perhaps the second one lives on property owned by and works for the first person. Because the second person lives hand to mouth, we can assume he/she has never had an opportunity to improve his/her station in life. For a story like this, we can assume the first person lives a life of leisure and the second struggles to survive every day. And let’s say further that the parents of the two had the same relationship, as perhaps did their parents.
Now, we can fill in time and place as we wish. Perhaps this is the 12th century Europe, and we’re discussing a lord or lady and a serf. Maybe its a slave owner and a slave in Brazil in 1890. Perhaps we’re discussing a Chinese Mandarin and a Chinese Peasant, or a member of some Arab royal family and a simple camel herder. Maybe we’re even talking about someone yet to come – the next leader of North Korea and a North Korean drone in some work camp or other. In any of these instances, most or all of us would recognize the injustice and it would color our thinking about the characters. But what if one of our two characters are an heir or heiress to a great fortune, and the other is a poor resident of South Central Los Angeles or even some small town in Louisiana. Does that change your opinion of the two characters? Why?