In "Eveline," is Eveline characterized using the direct or indirect characterization methiod?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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In the short story "Eveline," James Joyce describes Eveline through indirect characterization. Indirect characterization is a method by which the reader is made a participant in the life and conflict of the character because all understanding of the character comes from the reader's ability to understand the meaning of actions, attitudes, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, emotions, and conversations or comments.

By contrast, direct characterization presents exactly what the author wants the reader to know about the character in order to hasten the character revelation and understanding process in order that the action may be undertaken more expeditiously (quickly). This direct method of characterization is most effective in adventure stories, action stories, and science fiction stories where the great point of the novel is to have the adventure, pursue the action, experience the fictions of science. Direct characiterization, in which character traits and qualitles are expressly stated by the author, is also effective in stories in which stock characters or achetype characters are intentionally desired by the author.

Indirect characterization produces a more in depth portrait of the character and deepens the reader's engagement with and sympathy for the character. This indirect method of characterization is effective for stories in which character development, human agency, and human conflict, etc. are more important than the events of the story. This type of story--e.g., dramas, serious romances, social and cultural stories--is what is described as "character driven."

The advantage to the indirect method of characterization, such as Joyce uses to describe Eveline, is as stated, engagement with and sympathy for the character, which also adds to the longevity of the value of the story and its re-readability. While a disadvantage is that the sensitivity of readers varies as not all readers have the same grasp of language, human nature, and subtle behavior as others, resulting in characterization that can be misunderstood, which itself results in stories and themes that are equally misunderstood. To avoid this pitfall, authors may take simplistic approaches in rendering indirect characterization and simplify their language and authorial style, thereby depriving readers of some of the best joy of reading--thought provoking, mind expanding complexity.

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