Use quotations and examples of direct and indirect characterization of one character in The Lovely Bones.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Just for fun, I chose Susie's mother (Abigail) to answer your question.  Although almost every character in Sebold's The Lovely Bones is characterized both directly and indirectly, I feel as though Sebold purposefully peppered Abigail's characterization in short spurts:  one indirect characterization and then one direct characterization.

Let's use Abigail's psychological issues in dealing with Susie's death as a focus of characterization here.  Abigail is not dealing with her daughter's death well at all.  Abigail continues to draw away from reality (so much so that she feels trapped and in need of whatever escape possible).  Early on, this is show in an adept use of indirect characterization:

"Momma?" Buckley repeated.  His voice was sleepy.

"Mommmmma-maaa!"

She despised the word. (62)

Here we are given insight into Abigail's character indirectly, specifically through her thoughts.  What is revealed about Abigail's character here?  That she is beginning to withdraw from the two people who need her the most:  her two remaining children.

Further in the novel, Abigail is showing even more signs of psychological distress.  Here, again, is some indirect characterization for you:

"I want to be more than a mother."

Lindsey thought she could understand this.  She wanted to be more than a girl. (207)

Again, we are given insight into Abigail's character indirectly, this time through her words.  What is revealed about Abigail's character here?  That she is now voicing to her children the fact that she needs to escape from the mothering role.

It is Lindsey's reaction to this conversation that gives a good example of direct characterization:

"Is Mommy sick?" Buckey asked.

Lindsey didn't want to lie to him, but she also felt it was an accurate description of what she knew.

"Yes." (208)

Here we are given insight into Abigail's character directly, specifically through Lindsey's statement about Abigail being "sick."  What is revealed about Abigail's character here?  That even her daughter (Lindsey) realizes that there is something severely wrong with Abigail, so much so that she is described as being psychologically "sick."

An easy way to remember indirect and direct characterization is the simple idea of "show and tell."  Indirect characterization SHOWS an aspect of a character's personality while direct characterization TELLS an aspect of a character's personality.  This works quite well, even in the examples above.

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