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Home » Uncategorized » Introducing a Character: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Mark Twain’s Short Stories -Lubna

Introducing a Character: Lodge’s Ideas Applied to Mark Twain’s Short Stories -Lubna

Statements in bold font are points made by Lodge.
There are ‘many different types of character’ and ‘many different ways of representing them’
‘major characters and minor characters, flat characters and round characters, characters rendered from inside their
minds…and characters viewed from outside by others.’ 

In “The Story Of The Bad Little Boy” the main character is named Jim and the short story is told in third person omniscient point of view. The character is hence viewed from the outside by others. Jim is a complex character and this story explore many of his conflicts including the conflict of Jim vs. himself, and Jim vs. Society. Some minor characters include Jims mother who is very briefly mentioned in such a way that is supplemental to the development of Jim as a character. In “The Story Of The Good Little Boy” the main character Jacob is also viewed from the outside by others and the third person narrative allows for a different person to explore his as a character. James much like Jim is a very complex character is very much unlike what readers expect from a traditional “good boy”. There are minor characters in the story that bear little significance in terms of their effect on plot but they are supplemental to the development of James as a character.

“traditional way to introduce character (p.11) ‘give a physical description and a biographical study’  Times have changed: we are less leisurely and patient. Modern authors also prefer facts about the character to emerge gradually.
Contrary to the style of modern authors, Twain uses the traditional method of character introduction. In “The Story Of The Bad Little Boy” the entire story tracks the development (or lack of) development of a single character, Jim.The entire story explores situations and encounters of the character and accounts of his past that make him the “bad boy” that eventually led to him living an entire life built on the basis of cheating, wrongdoing, and trouble. He uses this character’s past as a means of exploring a major theme in the story and that is everyone has a past that makes them who they are. The stories told about his childhood are all of the same nature and that is wrongdoing and lack of remorse from Jim for doing so. Every time Jim does something bad as readers we believe this is the time he will get punished however he never does. There is a combination used by Twain in terms of modern and traditional means of character introduction. We are set up as readers to expect a traditional bad character that misbehaves and gets what he deserves much like in other stories however Twain withholds the fact that this “bad boy” will make unethical decisions and never look back. He will even succeed just as much if not more than a good boy would.
Twain uses a combination of methods for character introduction in “The Story of The Good Little Boy” the traditional method because solely from the title we already know this short story will track the development of one boy and there is no need for a gradual buildup of characteristics. The facts about James do however emerge gradually, in the beginning, we believe him to be a good boy that never gets rewarded however as the story goes on his true character is revealed and he is not as good as he seems to be. There is a discrepancy between selflessness actions and his selfless motives. He performs acts of kindness only in hopes to be recognized for them and leave a legacy when in reality a true act of kindness is done to help someone in need. Every action James does that looks like a good deed on the surface we as readers assume he will finally get the recognition he was looking for. Twain used this character to point out that the difference between what happens in reality to “good boys” and “good boys” characters in literature

We learn about character, class and lifestyle (p.11) Through clothes, speech and behavior.

There is no mention by Twain in terms of Jims clothes and he does not have dialogue, however, the entire story is an exploration of his bad behavior. He stole food and framed others, and still managed to escape the punishments he went off got married, killed is family, cheated trough life and found himself at the top being well respected and a member of the legislature. We learn trough all is poor actions that no matter what Jim does he doesn’t pay the price for any of is actions but rather gets off on luck. There is no mention of James clothes however in the narrator’s choice of words “The very things the boys in the books got rewarded for turned out to be about the most unprofitable things he could invest in” the choice of words “rewarded”, “unprofitable” and “invest” as a means to describe a good deed are contradictory to his “good boy” actions. A true good boy would not describe good deeds in such a way. James behavior allows readers to learn about his character. In addition, to the good deeds, he does he sometimes compromises the good deed just to make sure others see him doing it and it gets him in trouble. In the incident with the dogs, he doesn’t seem as concerned with helping them and releasing them he was more concerned with “reproving eye upon wicked Tom Jones.”

Lodge states that an effective means of learning about the character is through speech. Twain’s short stories characters are viewed and given an interpretation of by others while Chopin has a substantial amount of dialogue. The dialogue and speech in Chopins story give a sense of class, lifestyle and overall character. Twain does not have any dialogue from his main characters which helped develop his theme of the actions of the boys that made them good or bad and that actions, in reality, are not allows associated with suitable consequences much like how literature sets it out to be. Another difference is Chopins use of the traditional method of character introduction and giving a description of the character. Twain uses a combination of modern nan traditional however since”the Story of The Good Little Boy” and “The Story of The Bad Little Boy” track the development of one sole character he was able to gradually give facts about the characters through encounters and experiences.


2 Comments

  1. sbeheri98 says:

    I agree with what you say on how Twain represents and introduces his characters in “The Story of the Bad Little Boy”. Despite the fact that there are a good amount of characters mentioned in the short story, a majority of them are minor and flat characters like Jims mother or James who barely has any development at all. Jim is the only one who gradually develops and is a round major character. However, Twain does fail in properly and traditionally introducing a character based on Lodges guidelines based on the fact that he does not let the reader learn of their class or lifestyle through mentioning their clothes, speech or behavior. Then again this isn’t very surprising of him as he basically does whatever he feels like doing when it comes to how he writes.

  2. laithab says:

    There is a difference between the introduction of characters between Twain’s and Chopin’s works. We see that Chopin always mentions the race of characters if they are black, and if not she gives descriptions that along with the readers’ previous knowledge helps determine the race of the character. In Twain’s work. However, there is generally a very little emphasis on race. The difference in motives and themes in the works of the authors causes this difference, as Twain’s goal is to point out the faults of the religious and self-righteous groups regardless of race. Chopin, however, aims to show the side of slavery that people do not see. The side in which owners and masters interact normally and there are no hard feelings.

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