Compare and contrast how the writers of A Chip of Glass Ruby and The Surest thing in Show Business employ different techniques for characterization, and to what effect.

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A successful story needs powerful characters to bring the story alive for the readers, and skillful characterization is needed for such purpose. Characterization is the method used by a writer to develop a character. “The method includes showing the character's appearance, displaying the character's actions, revealing the character's thoughts, letting the character speak, and getting the reactions of others.” This essay will discuss the different techniques for characterization in The Surest Thing in Show Business and A Chip of Glass Ruby.

The characterization of the main characters in both stories was effectively achieved through the delicate and tactful use of dialogue. In The Surest Thing in Show Business, Jake was vividly animated through his very authentic and southern American accents and grammar. “I ain’t going to charge you nothing” or “Don’t worry about blowing out no tyres” are very colloquial southern American English. It is known in areas like Texas and Tennessee that the local people speak like this.

As Jake lives around that neighborhood, installing such a trait for Jake gives a touch of realism for his character.

Similarly, in A Chip of Glass Ruby, the main character – Mrs. Zanip Bamjee, she was described uniquely and through her conversations with various people in the story, her character traits become easily observed to the readers. “She laughed. ‘Now, Yusuf, you know you don’t …; she was worried.” It is such a dialogue that brings out both sides of her personality – both of the roles she has to play at the same time. It reveals Mrs. Bamjee as a caring mother and a typical housewife and yet a woman heavily involved in politics and social welfare. Her awareness of the political happenings in her community and her political stance brings her forth to say something about the moving to Transvaal, and yet her housewife senses make her relate these important issues to the people around her and make it sound as if it was a normal, petty housewife business.

Secondly, through the emotions and events experienced by a third party person, it can reflect certain characteristics of the character that the writer is trying to focus on. In A Chip of Glass Ruby, as the imprisonment of Mrs. Bamjee proceeded, Mr. Bamjee experienced anger, frustration and disorienatation. He was left alone with nine children, and he lost the wife he loved. “When he married her and moved in…For years and years he had not noticed it, and now it was gone.” This emphasized the importance and significance of Mrs. Bamjee, and it echoes her existence as a wife and mother of the family. In the same way, “’Oh but don’t you see?’ the girl said. ‘It’s because she doesn’t want anybody to be left out. It’s because she always remembers; remembers everything…That’s how Ma is.” This dialogue from Girlie is very significant in reflecting how Mrs. Bamjee is a character who cares for everyone around her, and she always thinks of other people’s needs rather than her own. She was the person who made sure all the people got what they wanted and had their needs satisfied, and with this amazing quality, she was able to bring security and joy to those around her.

Contrastingly, in The Surest Thing in Show Business, the whole story was told in first person perspective. Everything encountered in the story was through the eyes of Jake, and the readers experience directly as Jake takes it. This way, Jake’s personality is revealed through his personal actions, thoughts and mood. The reality when the old man is bitten or when the audience of Doug’s show in the high school auditorium responds is only known to Jake and Jerry, and therefore we perceive it differently then the people in the story. Such a style of describing the events help us feels that Jake is really talking about his feelings to us, and we understand his point of view through his immediate comments.

Through comparing the similarities and the differences of the characterization techniques used in these two stories, it is shown that different ways can achieve various purposes. Dialog is very important in describing a character in short stories, as it helps bring the character alive and readers are able to imagine the character speaking and thus perceiving the described events as the writer wanted it. Telling the story from different perspectives is also a clever way to convey subtle character traits. It is through these varieties of perspectives that readers can grasp a more concrete side of the character and therefore they become more vivid and convincing to the readers. Stylish characterization is essential for every successful story.

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