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Elements of Literature: Characters. Feature Menu. What Is Characterization? Direct Characterization Indirect Characterization Motivation Practice. What Is Characterization?. Characterization is the way a writer reveals character. Good characterization breathes life into characters.

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Presentation Transcript
slide1

Elements of Literature: Characters

Feature Menu

What Is Characterization?

Direct Characterization

Indirect Characterization

Motivation

Practice

slide2

What Is Characterization?

Characterization is the way a writer reveals character.

Good characterization breathes life into characters

and makes readers want to know more about them.

slide3

What Is Characterization?

Characterization is the way a writer reveals character.

Poor characterization makes the people in a story seem lifeless and uninteresting.

If the characters in a story don’t seem real, most readers will want to stop reading.

slide4

What Is Characterization?

Harriet Tubman was an African American woman who helped slaves escape and travel North to freedom.

Listen as author Ann Petry brings Tubman to life for her readers.

What does Petry’s characterization tell you about Harriet Tubman?

slide5

What Is Characterization?

Throughout her book about Harriet Tubman, Ann Petry describes not only what Tubman did but also how she did it.

Petry doesn’t state directly that Tubman was smart, courageous, and strong of faith.

But her stories about Tubman show these qualities to readers.

[End of Section]

slide6

Direct Characterization

In direct characterization the writer simply tells us what the character is like.

Margot was stylish and a bit of a snob.

Margot was a daring, gregarious woman.

Margot was an entertaining, but not always kind, friend.

Margot was blunt to the point of rudeness.

[End of Section]

slide7

Indirect Characterization

In indirect characterization, writers show a character in action and let us decide for ourselves what kind of person we are meeting.

Reading indirect characterization is like getting to know a new friend.

There are many clues that add up to a total picture of the person’s character.

slide8

Indirect Characterization

One method of indirect characterization is describing the character’s appearance.

Tyler dyed his hair bright red and wore it in long, stiff ridges that stood straight up from his head. He always wore tough-looking but odd clothes, and he frowned at everyone.

slide9

Indirect Characterization

Another method of indirect characterization is showing the character in action.

Whenever the teacher asked a question, Robert was the first to raise his hand. He would wave it back and forth until he was called on.

slide10

Indirect Characterization

A third method of indirect characterization is allowing readers to “hear” the character speak.

When I asked Mr. Rivers to keep his dog out of our yard, he yelled, “No one tells me or my dog what to do, especially not you!” He jabbed his finger toward me. “I pay my taxes, and my dog will go wherever he likes!”

slide11

Indirect Characterization

A fourth method of indirect characterization is revealing the character’s thoughts and feelings.

I can’t believe how frail Grandma looks, Jamal thought. She’s no bigger than a child. I never thought I would be tucking her into bed.

slide12

Indirect Characterization

A final method of indirect characterization is showing how others react to a character.

They’d been in the river all day, and everyone was hungry, but Tina kept yelling, “Ten more miles! Ten more miles!” Ginny closed her eyes, and everyone else looked away. Finally Mike said, “You’re on your own, Tina.”

[End of Section]

slide13

Motivation

Motivation is what makes people behave the way they do.

What do you think motivates the people in the pictures above?

slide14

Motivation

In real life we may never know what motivates other people.

But literature is different.

In literature you’ll find plenty of clues to a character’s motive.

slide15

Motivation

What clues in this passage help you figure out the character’s motivation?

Tonya stepped carefully through the front door and closed it slowly behind her, wincing when it clicked shut. Maybe if she didn’t make another sound, her mother would not know she was home.

Just as she reached the carpeted stairway, having avoiding all of the squeaky floorboards, Tonya heard the sound of Kipper’s toenails scrambling across the floor. Kipper threw all forty pounds of his furry self onto Tonya, knocking her against the wall. “Tonya, is that you?” her mother called from the kitchen. “Honey, we need to talk.”

slide16

Motivation

The boldface text suggests that Tonya’s motive is to avoid a conversation with her mother.

Tonya stepped carefully through the front door and closed it slowly behind her, wincing when it clicked shut. Maybe if she didn’t make another sound, her mother would not know she was home.

Just as she reached the carpeted stairway, having avoided all of the squeaky floorboards, Tonya heard the sound of Kipper’s toenails scrambling across the floor. Kipper threw all forty pounds of his furry self onto Tonya, knocking her against the wall. “Tonya, is that you?” her mother called from the kitchen.“Honey, we need to talk.”

[End of Section]

slide17

Let’s Try It

Practice

1. Which sentence is an example of direct characterization?

from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

“Mrs. Bertha Flowers was the aristocrat of Black Stamps. She had the grace of control to appear warm in the coldest weather, and on the Arkansas summer days it seemed she had a private breeze which swirled around, cooling her. She was thin without the taut look of wiry people, and her printed voile dresses and flowered hats were as right for her as denim overalls for a farmer. She was our side’s answer to the richest white woman in town.”

slide18

Let’s Try It

Practice

“Her skin was a rich black that would have peeled like a plum if snagged, but then no one would have thought of getting close enough to Mrs. Flowers to ruffle her dress, let alone snag her skin. She didn’t encourage familiarity. She wore gloves too.

I don’t think I ever saw Mrs. Flowers laugh, but she smiled often. A slow widening of her thin black lips to show even, small white teeth, then the slow, effortless closing.”

2. Which sentences describe the character’s appearance?

3. Which sentences describe her actions?

slide19

Let’s Try It

Practice

“When she chose to smile on me, I always wanted to thank her. The action was so graceful and inclusively benign. . . .

One summer afternoon, sweet-milk fresh in my memory, she stopped at the Store to buy provisions. Another Negro woman of her health and age would have been expected tocarry the paper sacks home in one hand, but Momma said, ‘Sister Flowers, I’ll send Bailey up to your house with these things.’”

4. Which sentences describe another character’s reaction to Mrs. Flowers?

slide20

Let’s Try It

Practice

“She smiled that slow dragging smile, ‘Thank you, Mrs. Henderson. I’d prefer Marguerite, though.’ My name was beautiful when she said it. ‘I’ve been meaning to talk to her, anyway.’ They gave each other age-group looks. . . .

[Mrs. Flowers] said, without turning her head, to me, ‘I hear you’re doing very good schoolwork, Marguerite, but that it’s all written. The teachers report that they have trouble getting you to talk in class.”

5. What motivation might Mrs. Flowers have for talking to Marguerite?

6. Which sentences provide clues to Mrs. Flowers’s motivation?

slide21

On Your Own

Practice

Choose a character from a story or novel you have read recently, and fill in a chart like the one below.