Tag Archives: direct

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.