How can you determine when a protagonist is presented directly or indirectly in a given story?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

All characters will have both types of characterization--the narrator and other characters in the story will tell you directly some things about a particular character: He was still a child.  He was determined.  He was a bright boy with rugged good looks.  These are examples of direct characterization.  You don't have to's all spelled out for you.  Then, all you have to do is determine whether or not to believe the narrator or the character who told you the fact.

The narrator will also feed you indirect information about a character and you are expected to "guess" what it tells you about that person.  Read between the lines--"She walked aimlessly through the gardens, looking wistfully at the water."  We know she isn't overjoyed, but perhaps she is lonely, perhaps she has suffered some great loss...the death of a loved oned in the water?  Maybe she's just scared of the water.  You would need to use the rest of the information in the story to read more about this character.  The more information given and guessed, the more developed the character is and seems lifelike and 3-D.

Check out the following link for some great direction and examples to better help you understand and differentiate between the two.  Good Luck!

afi80fl's profile pic

afi80fl | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

This is an issue of knowing the types of characterization.  First you have direct characterization, which is done through the techniques of giving vivid descriptions and using direct narration (storytelling).  Then, you have indirect characterization, which includes the following techniques: using dialogue with other characters to give information to readers about a character, using that character's actions to help readers understand him/her better, and finally, the use of other characters' comments about that character in the story in order to make clear the attributes of the character in question.

So, it's really an issue of figuring out how the author is presenting the character.  Which of the techniques of characterization as listed above does the author use to tell you about the protagonist?  Once you determine that, figure out whether it falls under the umbrella of direct or that of indirect.  It's as simple as that!  Although, you may want to have some quotes available to back up your opinion.  Good luck!

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