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Miss Stephanie Crawford is one of the Finch family's neighbors in To Kill a Mockingbird. She is the "neighborhood scold" (Chapter 1) and the biggest gossip in the town. Jem and Scout get most of their information about Boo Radley from Miss Stephanie, who claims that Boo peeks in her window at night. But Miss Maudie knows that most of what Miss Stephanie says is only speculation. When Scout tells Maudie the stories about Boo told by Miss Stephanie, Maudie tells Scout
"That is three-fourths colored folks and one-fourth Stephanie Crawford... (she) even told me once she woke up in the middle of the night and found him looking in the window at her. I said what did you do, Stephanie, move over in the bed and make room for him? That shut her up for a while." (Chapter 5)
An indirect characterization comes from Scout when she identifies Mr. Avery as "old Miss Stephanie Crawford's sweetheart." (Chapter 7) After her house burns down and Miss Maudie has to move in with Miss Stephanie temporarily, she suggests that Miss Stephanie has been
"after my recipe (for Lane cake) for thirty years, and if she thinks I'll give it to her just because I'm staying with her she's got another think coming." (Chapter 8)
However, Scout seems to think Miss Stephanie isn't smart enough--or a competent enough cook--"to follow it anyway." (Chapter 8)
Direct characterization is when the author or narrator uses explicit words or phrases to describe a particular character. Indirect characterization can be drawn from behaviors, speech, or even the appearance that characters exhibit. Also, indirect characterization can be found from implicit descriptions given by other characters. For an example of direct characterization of Miss Stephanie Crawford, Scout says the following in the first chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird:
"So Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighborhood scold, who said she knew the whole thing" (11).
If someone is a "scold," then he or she is one who finds fault in everything. Scout uses this word to describe Miss Stephanie Crawford because not only is she the town gossip, but she's also one who finds fault in everyone or every event in Maycomb. There is no need to use inference with this example because Scout's direct approach uses explicit language to tell the reader exactly what Miss Stephanie is--a scold.
However, an example of indirect characterization of Miss Stephanie Crawford is shown on the day of the Tom Robinson trial. Miss Maudie and the children are outside watching everyone from all of Maycomb County as they head toward the courthouse. Miss Maudie says she won't be going to the trial because it is morbid to watch someone on trial for his life. She also says that all of the people who are going to the trial that day are acting like it's a Roman carnival. Just then, Miss Stephanie Crawford walks by, and Scout describes the scene as follows:
"She wore a hat and gloves. 'Um, um, um,' she said. 'Look at all those folks--you'd think William Jennings Bryan was speakin'.'
'And where are you going, Stephanie?' inquired Miss Maudie.
'To the Jitney Jungle.'
Miss Maude said she'd never seen Miss Stephanie go to the Jitney Jungle in a hat in her life.
'Well,' said Miss Stephanie, 'I thought I might just look in at the courthouse, to see what Atticus's up to'" (160).
The above passage shows indirect characterization of Miss Stephanie Crawford in the following ways: First, she is dressed up for more than a trip to the grocery store; second, she pretends to show disapproval for all of the people going to the courthouse through her speech; and third, she avoids admitting that she is going to the trial. Therefore, by the way Miss Stephanie Crawford behaves, speaks, and is dressed in this scene, one can infer that she is a hypocrite, a liar, and a person who does not see anything wrong with going to see Tom Robinson on trial that day. This scene describes Miss Stephanie Crawford by showing how she interacts with others rather than using direct language to describe her character.
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