In Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," is the characterization direct or indirect?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Characterization is the way characters in a story are presented. This helps readers not only get to know the characters, but it also helps to structure the story's plot. Indirect characterization is when the reader learns of the character's motives and personality based on other character's perceptions and comments or the author's description of the character's actions, thoughts, or words. Direct characterization is when an author (or the character himself) clearly describes a character's looks and personality. Direct characterization is a technique used mostly in Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," because General Zaroff clearly defines himself and his motives through his own speech to Rainsford. Indirect characterization may sometimes be used to create ambiguity that requires the reader to use inference to understand the character.

An example of direct characterization is when Rainsford meets General Zaroff and the narrator explains:

"Rainsford's first impression was that the man was singularly handsome; his second was that there was an original, almost bizarre quality about the general's face. He was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his thick eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come. His eyes, too, were black and very bright. he had high cheekbones, a sharp-cut nose, a spare, dark face, the fa of a man used to giving orders, the face of an aristocrat."

For awhile, however, as Zaroff is talking, it seems ambiguous as to where he is going about his hunting career. The reader might wonder what the point to his long story is even though he is talking about himself and revealing his personality. This technique captures the reader's interest as s/he reads on to find out more about the character. An example of this indirect characterization can been seen as Zaroff divulges his personal philosophy on life:

"Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and if need be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not?"

Since General Zaroff openly discusses himself, and the reader clearly receives a breakdown of his physical features, wealth, and interests, direct characterization is more prominent than indirect characterization in Connell's short story.

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