Characterization (Blog 10)

Characterization (Jahn N7) seems quite complex, and something I’m rather interested in, so let’s give a shove, shall we? As this is really intricate, let’s try and tackle this in several blogs.

“Characterization  analysis focuses on three basic parameters”:

1. narrational vs. figural characterization—who is doing the describing? The narrator, or a character? (Are they mutually exclusive?)

2. explicit vs. implicit—are character traits specifically told (“he’s fat”; “he’s stupid”) or are they implied (“he had difficulty getting through the narrow bus door”; “he dove headfirst off a roof because he thought it would be fun”)

3. self-characterization (auto-characterization) vs. altero-characterization—does the character characterize himself or somebody else (this is a little tricky …)

Check on Jahn’s useful diagram (N7.2).

Let’s try a fictional paragraph to see how this works:

John was a man of substantial weight [this would be narrational, explicit, alterocharacterization]. He didn’t think much of Billy, who was far too skinny to still be alive [figural, explicit, altero]. John was always telling his friends that one day the wind was just going to carry Billy away [figural, implicit, verbal]. John thought he could stand to shed a few, but overall felt comfortable with his appearance [figural, explicit, autoch, private].

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