In their narratives, authors use various methods of characterization: through a physical description
- through a physical description of the character
- through the character's actions
- through the character's thoughts, feeling, and speeches
- through the comments and reactions of other characters
- through direct statements giving the writer's opinion of the character.
The first four methods are called indirect methods of characterization while the last method is direct characterization since with it the author tells rather than dramatizes.
In his witty short story, "The Storyteller," Saki presents his character, the bacelor, mainly through his speech and comments and reactions toward other characters with some characterization through the reactions of the aunt.
With his own inimitable wit and psychological insight, Saki presents the reader with what seems a confirmed bachelor who is uncomfortably confined to a compartment on a train with an indulgent and ineffective aunt and three unruly children, who "are converstional in a limited, persistent way." They also move around the compartment; the boy pounds the cushion right next to the bachelor. As it becomes apparent that the bachelor is very irritated by this intrusion upon his polite distance when he glares at her twice after looking at Cyril who seems bent upon reciting a line two thousand times, the aunt summons the children to her and attempts to pacify them with a story about a good little girl.
Interrupted by petulant questions from one girl, the aunt essays to entertain the children unsuccessfully. Disgruntled, the bachelor abruptly from his corner tells her,
"You don't seem to be a success as a story-teller."
In defence, the aunt challenges him to relate a story himself. With ironic wit, the bachelor does this, changing the story about the little girl to one about Bertha, who has three medals for her goodness which she constantly wears so everyone will know how "horribly good" she is. This paradoxical phrase intrigues the children who listen eagerly to the bachelor's unorthodox tale of Bertha's being invited to the Prince's park which is inhabited by pigs. Instead of the "happily ever after" ending, the satirical bachelor tells the children of a wolf who pursues Bertha, who is able to successfully hide from it until her good conduct medals clink together, betraying her to the wolf and she is eaten. At this ending, the aunt's initial admiration turns to disapproval, "A most improper story," she chides him. However, the bachelor congratulations himself for his victory over this woman,
Unhappy woman!" he observed to himself as he walked down the platform of Templecombe station; "for the next six months or so those children will assail her in public with demands for an improper story!"
No meek and retiring bachelor, Saki's character has pulled out his sardonic verbal skills and ironic wit to battle the irritations of the children and their ineffective aunt who have disturbed his comfort on the train.