In some stories, the main character holds out against all attempts to change his attitude or behavior, remaining steadfast in his nature.
Here are examples of stories that illustrate this concept of the Steadfast Main Character:
A Clockwork Orange: Alex never willingly changes his roguish anti-social behavior, and when forced to do so, he prefers to die rather than give up that part of himself. Alex tries to hold out against the challenges to his self-authority: when his droogs begin to rebel, he teaches them a lesson; he skips school despite Mr. Deltoid’s efforts; he fights against the authorities during his interrogation; he tries to commit suicide rather than be forced to hate his individualism (represented by Beethoven’s 9th Symphony).
All That Jazz: In the opening scene, Joe asserts “To be on the wire is life: the rest is waiting” (Aurthur and Fosse 1). This statement sums up Joe’s credo, and because of it he remains steadfast in living the high life, despite the fact that it is literally killing him.
Amadeus: Once he declares his war, his intent to destroy Mozart, he remains steadfast to the end. He had offered to trade a recommendation to the Emperor on Mozart’s behalf if Constanze will have sex with him. After he declares his war, he isn’t interested. He tells us, “I wanted nothing petty…..My quarrel wasn’t with Mozart. It was through him! Through him to God, who loved him so.” As Salieri listens to the “Magic Flute,” he finds that a bit of pity might be entering his heart, but he resolves, “Never!” In the end, Salieri even attempts to take his own life to spite God’s punishment- that is, Salieri’s lack of recognition.
Being There: Chance remains steadfast in his desire to live in a home where he can work in a garden and watch television.
Braveheart: William steadfastly fights the English in spite of the odds. He neither yields to the persuasion of Robert the Bruce nor does he give in to Longshanks’ attempt to buy him off. And although eventually he has to change his attitude towards the Scottish nobles, his determination to get Scotland free of England remains as solid as a rock.
Candida: True to the Christian principles he preaches, Morell employs the virtue of patience and prepares for self sacrifice as he awaits the fate of his marriage.
Chinatown: Never one to leave things open-ended, Jake pursues the ‘answer’ to his questions relentlessly. Even after Evelyn is killed and Noah takes his granddaughter away, Jake’s inclination is to keep on going.
The Fugitive: Dr. Kimble maintains he is innocent, and does everything he can to prove it including consistently putting his life in jeopardy.
The Glass Menagerie: Laura exists in a fantasy world where her very own “gentleman caller” awaits her. Even after Jim informs her of his impending marriage and permanent departure, Laura maintains her fantasy more securely than before.
Klute: Klute’s not convinced that Tom’s disappearance is what it looks like to everyone else:
KLUTE: I don’t see it. Tom Grunemann. I’ve known him all my life. He wouldn’t just, you know, go.
AGENT: But he’s gone.
(Lewis & Lewis, p. 6)
Klute sticks with his belief in Tom, and sees “the girl” as the clue to solving the puzzle. He stays close to her, getting to know her more intimately–ultimately using her as bait to trap Tom’s suspected killer, Cable.
Rebel Without a Cause: Jim is steadfast in his desire to be part of a functional family.
Reservoir Dogs: Mr. White refuses to believe that Mr. Orange is the “rat,” even when all evidence points to him. When Mr. Orange confesses to him, he is anguished over the betrayal but remains true to his criminal nature and shoots him, at the cost of his own life.
Revenge of the Nerds: Lewis sticks to his original path of actively pursuing a great time in college. He faces the idea that he is a nerd, but he doesn’t let it dissuade him from any goals he has set for himself. Lewis emerges from the story with the same motivations with which he entered.
Romeo and Juliet: Romeo remains steadfast in his love for Juliet and desire to remain at her side–to the point of following his wife in death.
Searching for Bobby Fischer: Josh sticks to his own way of playing in tournaments. Although Bruce tries to convince Josh to adopt his personal views on winning (and whether or not he should play at all), ultimately Josh resolves his problems by own means, choosing at the end to offer his opponent a way out, before finally winning the game.
The Silence of the Lambs: Even after Lecter has killed more people in his escape from custody, Clarice still believes she was on the right track in getting his help. She heeds his advice and finds a vital clue in the case file, as Lecter suggested.
The Sun Also Rises: Jake remains steadfast in his desire for Brett.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Rather than stopping the “game” by exposing the lie about their “son,” George continues to play within the rules and “kills” their son–GEORGE: “I have the right, Martha. We never spoke of it; that’s all. I could kill him any time I wanted to.”
The Wild Bunch: A person’s character is best defined by their deeds, not their words. Though Pike discusses changing his lawless, gunfighting ways, it’s the only lifestyle he knows and he hangs onto it, a dinosaur in changing times. He stands by his code of loyalty:
PIKE: We started together — we’ll end it together.
(Green and Peckinpah, p. 33)
–and finally refuses to leave Angel to die alone in Mapache’s hands, leading the Bunch in their final shootout.
X-Files: Beyond the Sea: In spite of Scully’s momentary belief in Boggs’ psychic abilities, she returns to her skeptical nature.
MULDER: Scully. . . after all you’ve told me. After all the evidence. . .
SCULLY: Because I’m afraid. . . I’m afraid to believe.
MULDER: You couldn’t face that fear? Even if it meant never knowing what your father was trying to tell you?
SCULLY: But I do know.
SCULLY: He was my father.