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Characterization Notes. Indirect and Direct Characterization. Flat and Round Static and Dynamic. Direct Characterization. Direct Characterization : When the narrator or another character tells us what a person is like.

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characterization notes
Characterization Notes
  • Indirect and Direct Characterization
  • Flat and Round
  • Static and Dynamic
direct characterization
Direct Characterization
  • Direct Characterization: When the narrator or another character tells us what a person is like.
  • Ex: Jason was a tall, broad-shouldered football player who always had a smile on his face.
indirect characterization
Indirect Characterization
  • Indirect Characterization: Requires the reader to look for clues that reveal a character’s traits and motivation.

When looking for indirect characterization, think about all the following:

  • What a character does (actions)
  • What a character thinks
  • What a character says (dialogue)
  • What other characters say and how they react
  • Ex: Jody ran up the stairs to her room, tears streaming down her face, and slammed her door loudly, hoping her mother would hear.
your turn
Your Turn

Look for examples of both direct and indirect characterization from the following passage in “Thank You, M’am,” a short story by Langston Hughes:

  • She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but a hammer and nails. It had a long strap, and she carried it slung across her shoulder. It was about eleven o’clock at night, and she was walking alone when a boy ran up behind her and tried to snatch her purse. The strap broke with the single tug the boy gave it from behind. But the boy’s weight and the weight of the purse combined caused him to lose his balance so, instead of taking off full blast as he had hoped, the boy fell on his back on the sidewalk, and his legs flew up. The large woman simply turned around and kicked him right square in his blue-jeaned sitter. Then she reached down, picked the boy up by his shirt front, and shook him until his teeth rattled.
character development
Character Development:
  • Characterization—the process of revealing the personality of a character.
  • Round Character—a well-developed character with varied traits, both good and bad.
  • Ex: Ariel, in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, has positive traits, like being loving and courageous, but she also has less flattering traits like being forgetful and disobedient. She is a well-developed character with many sides.
character development6
Character Development:
  • Flat Character—a less-developed character with one or a few traits; he/she is usually one-sided or stereotypical.
  • Ex: Think of dumb blonde characters in many teen movies—they are usually selfish, bossy, and mean. We never see them being nice or having problems of their own. They are one-sided and less developed.
character change
Character Change:
  • Dynamic Character—a character that develops and changes over the course of a story due to a conflict or newfound understanding.
  • Ex: Scrooge is selfish and mean in the beginning of A Christmas Carol, but later becomes generous and selfless when he realizes his sins. He changes because of what happens to him in the story.
character change8
Character Change:
  • Static Character—a character who remains the same over the course of the entire story.
  • Ex: Cinderella’s stepmother is mean in the beginning of the fairytale and mean at the end. She never changes.
here s a trick to help you remember the definitions
Here’s a trick to help you remember the definitions:
  • Round=Many Characteristics
  • Flat=Few Characteristics
  • Static=Same and Dynamic=Different

Your Turn:

Think back to “The Most Dangerous Game.” Who is flat and who is round? Why?

Who is static and who is dynamic? Why?