Perhaps the most obvious method of characterization an author can use is to describe the physical appearance of a character. For example, the beggar in the story is described as "a shaggy, thick-necked fellow," with a "battered cane" and a coat which is "greasy about the lapels and pockets." These physical descriptions of the beggar emphasize that this is a rather downtrodden, unfortunate, but also hardy character.
Another method of characterization often used by an author is to reflect the personality or mood of a character through the setting. For example, just before we are introduced to Mr. Parsons, we are told that the air is "rich with spring," and that the "sun (is) warm." We are also told that the "blue air of spring ... could thrill him with eagerness." These descriptions of the weather reflect Mr. Parsons' positive, contented, joyful mood.
A third method of characterization open to an author is to suggest a character's personality by the way in which he or she speaks. When the beggar first speaks, he says, "I ain't no beggar guv'nor. You bet I ain't." The beggar's speech here is very informal, and implies that he is a poor, uneducated man. By contrast, when Mr. Parsons speaks, his language is much more formal. For example, when asked by the beggar to buy a cigarette lighter, he says, "Certainly. I'll help you out. As you say, I can give it to someone." The contrast here, between the speech of the beggar on the one hand and the speech of Mr. Parsons on the other, helps to emphasize the differences between them. The two characters come from entirely different social groups.
A fourth way in which an author can create a character is by describing that character's body language. The beggar, for example, "shiver(s) crazily," and "shift(s) his feet wearily." He "thump(s) his way before him with a cautious, half-furtive effort," and his hand clutches his cane with "a futile sort of clinging." These descriptions of the beggar's body language suggest that he is a desperate, tired, perhaps dangerous, and perhaps pitiful character.