For many literary works, especially novels, character development is quintessential. Literary characters drive the action and conflict; they create a reason for a story to exist. Mapping characters can be as simple as asking students to fill in charts that track important aspects of characters, or as complex as noting traits that categorize them as an archetype.
Maniac Magee, a novel by Jerry Spinelli, is about Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee, a boy who becomes an orphan when his parents die in a trolley accident. Maniac becomes a legend in Two Mills, a town with an East End for blacks and a West End for whites. Without a place to call home, Maniac bridges racial boundaries with his super athleticism, knot-tying abilities, and overall good character.