Tag Archives: characterization

Characterization of Janie

“Janie saw her life like a great tree in leaf with the things, suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone.  Dawn and doom was in the branches” (Hurston 9).


Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

Janie is characterized as a person who is thoughtful and attentive to life and those around her.  Unlike some of the other characters, she looks at her life as a combination of positive, moments as well as negative ones, refusing to allow gossip to change her own perspectives.  It is this characteristic that differentiates her from many of the other characters in the novel’s plot.


Characterization in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.”

She [Henry’s wife] was a Christian Scientist.Her Bible, her copy of Science and Health and her Quarterly were on a table beside her bed in the darkened room.
Her husband did not answer. He was sitting on a bed now, cleaning a shotgun. He pushed the magazine full of the heavy yellow shells and pumped them out again. They were scattered on the bed.

Hemingway, Ernest. “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.” In Our Time. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2003. 25-26. Print.

The subtle clash between these two characters highlights Hemingway’s terse writing style: Henry’s wife is a Christian scientist, thus she is against her husband’s medical work. In contrast, we have Henry, a symbol of masculinity characterized by his silence on the subject of Dick’s anger and his wielding of a shotgun.

Detail and Characterization in Whose Body?

“He sat down in the beautiful room in which Sir Julian’s patients awaited his healing counsel.  It was full of people.  Two or three fashionably dressed women were discussing shops and servants together, and teasing a toy griffon.  A big, worried-looking man by himself in a corner looked at his watch twenty times a minute.  Lord Peter knew him by sight.  It was Wintrington, a millionaire, who had tried to kill himself a few months ago.  He controlled the finances of five countries, but he could not control his nerves” (Sayers 117).


Sayers, Dorothy L. Whose Body? Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2009. Print.

Centering around the mystery of a dead body discovered in a bath tub, Whose Body? unfolds into a thought-provoking detective novel.  However, while the content is purposely kept confusing and misleading–as Sayers does not want readers to solve the crime prior to the point in which her protagonist does–the writing style is very direct and detail-oriented.  Sayers introduces readers to many minute observations that many other writers, especially modern writers, omit in their plots.  In fact, her attention to such details deters readers from figuring out the solution to the big question in her work: whose body?  Not only does Sayers provide careful observations about locations, but also about characters–even ones that do not appear to be important in terms of the plot of the work.  In this excerpt, she describes the waiting room of Sir Julian’s office, pointing out details about the patients that are waiting for their appointments.  She manipulates the language to directly characterize them rather than hinting at their traits, as she does when she describes the differences between the mental/emotional state and professional/business state of the the millionaire in the waiting room.



You certainly never can learn no way Melanctha ever with all I certainly been telling to you, ever since I know you good, that it ain’t never no way like you do always is the right way you be acting ever and talking, the way I certainly always have seen you do so Melanctha always. I certainly am right Melanctha about them ways you have to do it, and I knows it; but you certainly never can noways learn to act right Melanctha, I certainly do know that, I certainly do my best Melanctha to help you with it only you certainly never do act right Melanctha, not to nobody ever, I can see it. You never act right by me Melanctha no more than by everybody. I never say nothing to you Melanctha when you do so, for I certainly never do like it when I just got to say it to you, but you just certainly done with that Jem Richards you always say wanted real bad to be married to you, just like I always said to Sam you certainly was going to do it.


Three Lives by Gertrude Stein