What is an indirect characterization of Buddy's friend in the reminiscence "A Christmas Memory" ?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In literature, there are four methods of indirect characterization that an author can use to reveal character:

  1. through a physical description of the character
  2. through the character's actions
  3. through the character's thoughts, feelings, and speeches
  4. through the comments and reactions of other characters

While Buddy sometimes uses direct characterization, in which he simply tells something about his cousin--"She is still a child" or "...she has never eaten in a restaurant, traveled more than five miles from home..."--he provides the reader much indirect characterization. Here are examples:

[Buddy narrates that his friend remains at home while he is a military school.]:

  • (method no. 1) "A woman with shorn white hair is standing at the kitchen window. She is small and sprightly, like a bantam hen,...her face is remarkable--not unlike Lincoln'd craggy like that...."
  • (method no. 2)"And there she remains, puttering around the kitchen. Alone with Queenie. Then alone."  
  • (method no. 2) After Queenie is kicked by a horse, his friend writes Buddy that she wrapped the little dog in a linen sheet and took her in the horse buggy to Simpson's pasture "where she can be with all her Bones."
  • (method no. 3) Buddy's friend tell him how excited she is about procuring a Christmas tree: "Well, I can't sleep a hoot....My mind's jumping like a jack rabbit."
  • (method no. 4) Buddy comments on his friend, "Is it because my friend is shy with everyone except strangers that these strangers, and merest acquaintances, seem to us our truest friends?"
Sources:

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