The Cold Equations

by Tom Godwin
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"I feel so alone. I never did feel like this before; like I was all by myself and there was nobody to care what happened to me." Is this direct to indirect characterization?

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Direct characterization is when a writer comments directly to the reader about character specifics, such as personality. In indirect characterization, the writer implies information about a character's personality and other aspects through dialog, thoughts, actions, and appearance.

The classic short story "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin ...

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Direct characterization is when a writer comments directly to the reader about character specifics, such as personality. In indirect characterization, the writer implies information about a character's personality and other aspects through dialog, thoughts, actions, and appearance.

The classic short story "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin tells of a pilot aboard an Emergency Dispatch Ship carrying essential medical supplies to a frontier planet. He discovers a stowaway onboard, a young teenage girl who only wants to visit her brother. However, the spacecraft has only enough fuel for the pilot and the supplies and cannot perform its mission unless the girl is jettisoned into space. Although the pilot communicates to his superiors and tries to come up with some sort of alternative action, there is none. The poor girl says this when she realizes that she has no choice but to soon die in the cold vacuum of space:

I feel so alone. I never did feel like this before, like I was all by myself and there was nobody to care what happened to me. Always, before, there was Mama and Daddy there and my friends around me. I had lots of friends, and they had a going-away party for me the night before I left.

This poignant passage is an example of indirect characterization. Through it, Godwin puts readers into the mind of the teen girl who is condemned to die and allows us to understand what she is going through during this ordeal.

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