Characterization

In: English and Literature

Submitted By simonaplli
Words 942
Pages 4
Characterization is the process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. In the short story ,“Passing” by Langston Hughes, the protagonist’s personality is described through an indirect self characterization. In fact, the author never directly tells the reader how to regard the protagonist but reveals his personality, step by step, through the long letter that he writes to his mother. In this letter Jack, the protagonist of the short story, recalls his past, describes the life he lives and his plan for the future explaining the reasons, which have led him, an extremely light-skinned coloured young man, to deny his identity and to reject his family in order to pass for a white man.
At the very beginning of the letter (line 6) he apologises to his mother for not speaking to her, insisting to do so in fear of losing his well-paid job (lines 25-26) if identified as coloured in a society that only grants well paid jobs to white people (lines 26-31). He, basically, pretends that he has taken the decision of living white only because she, his mother, asked him to (lines 35-39) and because he wants to support the family (lines 92-93). He also insists that he feels terrible about having to deny his mother and his siblings (line 50) and that this situation is hard for him to endure (lines 52-59). At a first reading Jack appears to be a person who truly loves and cares for his family, the victim of a racist society, which denies black people equal opportunities and systematically discriminates against them.
This is the Jack’s self-proclaimed estimation of himself but, as a critic reader, I ask myself whether this opinion is reliable or distorted. Reading further and throwing a glance to the interactions between the main character and the side characters, the reader obtains a completely different picture of Jack. First, the white girlfriend, whom the…...

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