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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201

The Interpretation of Cultures is a set of essays by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, written at different points in his career. The “characters” would be the individuals whom he presents in the essays. In contrast to works of fiction or drama these characters are real people. In Chapter 1, Geertz lays out his overall interpretive approach to studying culture, which is also a semiotic approach focusing on meaning. Some of the other essays are also highly theoretical. Individuals appear primarily in the essays that are include ethnographies, narratives of case studies based in field research he conducted. In “Ritual and Social Change: A Javanese Example,” Geertz discusses the funeral of a young boy on Java; his uncle, Karman, is the primary individual presented. In one of his most well-known essays, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” the village chief and a policeman, along with the author and his wife, are among the individuals who appear, while most spectators at the cock fights are presented in generic terms. Finally, while the author does not present any individuals or characters, much of “Person, Time, and Conduct on Bali” is devoted to exploring the characterization of individual human beings, especially “orders of person-definition” in Bali.

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