A character sketch is a detailed description of a character. In this story, there are basically only three characters. The narrator is a young child, and he or she is describing Grandpa as he goes outside to say goodbye to his friend the turtle (or terrapin).
Grandpa is very old, and not as strong as he used to be. He has lived with the narrator and Mom for eleven years. He is 91 years old at the time of the story, and he is about to die.
Grandpa has gotten very thin and weak.
Grandpa wore a heavy wool suit that hung from his shoulders. It was right around his middle where he was round and full. His thin legs were like sticks inside the pants
Grandpa walks with a cane, and walks slowly. Mom is worried he will fall. She says he “used to be a powerful man” who could cut down trees, when he first came to live with them.
Grandpa seems to really enjoy the animals.
Grandpa called to the animals and they ran toward him. He reached down and touched every animal.
Grandpa tells them that he is going to see an old friend, the turtle. He says he knows the turtle will be waiting for him.
The turtle lives under the barn. He has lived there at least as long as Grandpa has lived with Mom and the narrator. He “looked like a flat stone” and has the number 1847 carved into his shell. He is an old turtle. The narrator says the turtle hides when anyone but Grandpa goes near.
The turtle seems almost human. He seems to listen to Grandpa.
The turtle turned his face to one side. He was trying to talk to Grandpa. Perhaps the turtle could understand what Grandpa was saying.
Mom says that the turtle has been eating tomatoes from the garden for years, and is almost a member of the family.
The simple story of Grandpa and the turtle is heartwarming. The two have much in common, and seem to understand each other. Both were once strong, and are now old. They have been through a lot, and likely are both about to die.