Literary Device: Characterization

Literary Device: Characterization
Characterization is the convincing representation of characters within
a text through various means (direct and indirect). Common methods
include the inclusion of physical details, inner monologue, dialogue,
other character’s opinions of literary figures, and the description of a
character‘s basic movements through their literary landscape.
Example: “Private First Class Paul Berlin lay quietly with his forehead
resting on the black plastic stock of his rifle, with his eyes
closed. He was pretending he was not in the war…He was
pretending he was a boy again, camping with his father in the
midnight summer…In the dark, with his eyes pinched shut, he
pretended…He pretended he was not a soldier.”
- Tim O’Brien, “Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?”
“Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?”
– Author’s Purpose
• What are your initial impressions regarding the character
of Paul Berlin based on the passage above?
From the beginning, the reader is immediately aware of the
unseasoned nature of this soldier. Inexperienced and
afraid, Paul Berlin fears the war and his place within it.
• How does the author define the character of Paul Berlin
for the reader:
Physical Details (Direct)
Inner Monologue (Indirect)
…with his forehead resting on the…rifle…
…pretending he was not in the war…
...with his eyes closed…
…pretending he was a boy again…
…with his eyes pinched shut…
He pretended he was not a soldier…
from The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand
A young woman stood before a railing, speaking to the reception clerk. Her
slender body seemed out of all scale in relation to a normal human body; its
lines were so long, so fragile, so exaggerated that she looked like a stylized
drawing of a woman and made the correct proportions of a normal being
appear heavy and awkward beside her. She wore a plain gray suit; the contrast
between its tailored severity and her appearance deliberately exorbitant - and
strangely elegant. She let the fingertips of one hand rest on the railing, a
narrow hand ending the straight imperious line of her arm. She had gray eyes
that were not ovals, but two long, rectangular cuts edged by parallel lines of
lashes; she had an air of cold serenity and an exquisitely vicious mouth. Her
face, her pale gold hair, her suit seemed to have no color, but only a hint, just
on the verge of reality of color, making the full reality seem vulgar. Keating
stood still, because he understood for the first time what it was that artists
spoke about when they spoke of beauty…
from The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand
The young woman turned and looked at Keating as she passed him on her way
to the stairs. Her eyes went past him without stopping. Something ebbed from
his stunned admiration. He had time to see her eyes; they seemed weary and
a little contemptuous, but they left him with a sense of cold cruelty…Beyond a
broad arch, in a small library, with three young men beside her, he saw
Dominique Francon. She stood leaning against a column, a cocktail glass in
her hand. She wore a suit of black velvet; the heavy cloth, which transmitted no
light rays, held her anchored to reality by stopping the light that flowed too
freely through the flesh of her hands, her neck, her face. A white spark of fire
flashed like a cold metallic cross in the glass she held, as if it were a lens
gathering the diffused radiance of her skin…
The Fountainhead – Author’s Purpose
• What is your initial impression of the character of
Dominique Francon?
exquisitely beautiful and seemingly fragile
Dominique Francon seems to possess a
inner core of malicious strength and scorn.
• Examine what methods Rand employs to characterize Dominique
during her introduction to the reader using the chart below:
Description of Physical Appearance
Hints at Underlying Personality
Her slender body seemed out of all scale…
…an air of cold serenity…
…gray eyes…parallel lines of lashes…
…an exquisitely vicious mouth…
Her face, her pale gold hair…
…her eyes…seemed weary and…contemptuous…
…the diffused radiance of her skin…
…a sense of cold cruelty…
The Fountainhead – Author’s Purpose
• How do these descriptions of her physical beauty
contrast with the initial impression of her
Despite her outward physical fragility, Dominique
Francon exhibits a disdainful and acidic personality
that directly contrasts with her appealing outer shell.
• When describing Dominique’s gray business suit, Rand
writes “the contrast between its tailored severity and
her appearance [was] deliberately exorbitant - and
strangely elegant.” This statement could easily be
applied additionally to the divide between her outer
appearance and inner emotions. How does this
contrast heighten the reader’s interest in Dominique
Francon’s true nature?
By presenting such a startling divide between the
outer and inner face of this character, Rand creates
the mystery of Dominique for the reader to unravel.
Answer the essay question below:
• In Ayn Rand’s sprawling novel The
Fountainhead, the individualistic author
creates larger-than-life protagonists who
strive incessantly against the mediocrity of
modern social life. In a well-organized
response, complete with text evidence and
compelling commentary, examine how the
initial contrast between Dominque Francon’s
physical beauty and inner sterility piques the
reader’s interest regarding the heroine’s true
Red – Major Writing Task
Blue – Minor Insights/Instructions

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