The World of Comparing and Contrasting the Characters in “Loser”
By: Gurjap Kohli 5th grade
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, the term struggle means, “To make forceful efforts in the face of difficulties.” Many people struggle at times in life, such as struggling with other people or with work. This happens to characters as well. In fact, in the book, "Loser", by Jerry Spinelli, the characters Donald Zinkoff and Gary Hobin have struggles. Zinkoff struggles with work, while Hobin struggles to have a friendship with Zinkoff because he is different. Zinkoff tries his best to do a task and fails. However, it was all about having fun. Zinkoff and Hobin are different because of their backgrounds, their internal traits, and their problems.
As previously mentioned, Zinkoff and Hobin are different when it comes to their backgrounds. Zinkoff is a nobody because no one talks to him, and as it states on page 1, “You grow up with a kid, but you never really notice him. He’s just there - on the street, the playground, the neighborhood.”
This quote means that no one really sees him and he is overlooked. Meanwhile, Hobin is popular and hangs out with other popular kids because they all play basketball together. Furthermore, Zinkoff was the victim of a bully, who was Hobin, because as it states on page 106, “The Purples lose the championship…Hobin sneers, ‘You’re a loser. A stinkin’ loser.’” This means that Hobin hates Zinkoff because Hobin lost. Clearly, Zinkoff and Hobin are different when it comes to their backgrounds.
Just like Zinkoff and Hobin have different backgrounds, they are different regarding their internal traits. Zinkoff is caring and as it states on page 174, “I will find her. I will find her.” This means that he needs to find the missing girl who has wandered away from home. On the other hand, Hobin doesn’t care if he hurts anyone’s feelings, like when Hobin called Zinkoff a loser just because Zinkoff made the team lose. Zinkoff is friendly to many people and as it states on page 77, “A white-haired lady in a mint-green dress is standing on a step waving her letter...She’s smiling at him. ‘Thank you mailman!’ she calls. Donald calls back, ‘You’re welcome!’” This shows that Donald is friendly to people any age. However, Hobin is friendly to specific people because he doesn’t like people like Zinkoff, who make him lose. Obviously, Zinkoff and Hobin have different internal traits.
As said previously, Zinkoff and Hobin have different internal traits; similarly, they have different problems. Zinkoff has trouble finding friends, as it states on page 133, “He is only dimly aware of things, dimly aware that as time goes by he seems to be seeing less and less of Binns.” This shows that Binns is slowly disassociating himself from Zinkoff. However, Hobin has a problem with losing. Hobin has a large emphasis on winning so losing makes Hobin disappointed. When Zinkoff made the team lose, Hobin was angry at Zinkoff. As one can see, Zinkoff and Hobin have different problems.
According to Frederick Douglass, an African-American abolitionist, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” This quote represents what happens to people every day. People can struggle everywhere in the world. This is not different for literary characters. When they struggle, they strive again to make progress. As you can see, this also happens to Donald Zinkoff and Gary Hobin because of how different they are, regarding their backgrounds, their internal traits, and their problems.