Enormity: 1. The quality of passing all moral
bounds; excessive wickedness or outrageousness.
2. A monstrous offense or evil; an outrage.
Enormous: Great size; immensity
• Strunk and White advise, "Use [enormity] only in
the sense of 'monstrous wickedness.’ [It is]
misleading, if not wrong, when used to express
• Bryan Garner's Modern American Usage says,
"The historical differentiation between these
words should not be muddled. Enormousness =
hugeness, vastness. Enormity = outrageousness,
• Prose: words in
their best order;
poetry: the best
words in the best
- S. T. Coleridge
Chair Poet of the Day?
• Writing a Character Analysis
• “Barn Burning”
1. Physical Description
Physical description is the most common way of describing
It identifies physical attributes of the character.
height, skin, hair and eye color,
short/tall, skinny/fat, glasses, nose
size and shape, disability,
gestures and movements: walking,
standing, moving, wrinkling brow
Tom Buchannan is a “sturdy, straw-haired man of
thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious
manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had
established dominance over his face, and gave
him the appearance of always leaning aggressively
forward … you could see a great pack of muscle
shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin
coat. It was a body capable of enormous
leverage—a cruel body.” (1)
2. Name Analysis
To analyze a character’s name, look more
closely at its meaning, allusion, or
Not all characters have a name with
significance to the story. Often though, author’s
carefully choose a character’s name to
represent a trait or quality about the character
or the story.
• Daisy: A common, yellow
centered flower with white
rays. A flower is something
we look at, appreciate for its
beauty. Is Daisy a common
• Jordan: A gender neutral
name. Is Jordan less of a
woman because she is an
This method of characterization is the
reader’s description of the character’s
attitude and behavior.
The character’s attitude is how the
character appears to feel about what is
happening to him or her in the story.
Sometimes we read attitude in behavior
rather than words.
Gatsby, his hands still in his pockets, was reclining
against the mantelpiece in a strained counterfeit of
perfect ease, even of boredom. His head leaned
back so far that it rested against the face of a
defunct mantelpiece clock, and from this position
his distraught eyes stared down at Daisy, who was
sitting, frightened but graceful, on the edge of a
stiff chair. (Chapter 5)
Dialogue refers to characters’ words
Dialogue includes the characters
diction (word choice) and syntax
It also includes the tone of the
character when he or she speaks.
Is the character serious? Sarcastic?
Shy? Obnoxious? Ignorant?
“I almost made a mistake, too,” [Mrs. McKee declared
vigorously. “I almost married a little kyke who’d been after me
for years. I knew he was below me. Everybody kept saying to
me: ‘Lucille, that man’s ‘way below you!’ But if I hadn’t met
Chester, he’d of got me sure.”
“Yes, but listen,” said Myrtle Wilson, nodding her head up and
down, “at least you didn’t marry him.”
“I know I didn’t.”
“Well, I married him,” said Myrtle, ambiguously. “And that’s the
difference between your case and mine.” (Chapter 2)
The thoughts of a character
can only be analyzed if we
are inside the head of the
This means that you can only
include an analysis of a
character’s thoughts if you
are told what the character is
Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men, and now I saw
that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence
from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest.
She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage and, given this
unwillingness, I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when
she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to
the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard, jaunty body.
It made no difference to me. Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you
never blame deeply — I was casually sorry, and then I forgot. (Chapter
6. Reactions of Others
When analyzing the reactions
of others, you are looking
closely at how other
characters in the story react
to or treat the character that
you are characterizing.
Reactions include verbal
responses and physical or
Character reactions can tell
you if the character you are
analyzing is liked or disliked,
popular, honest, trustworthy
and so on.
“Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!” shouted
Mrs. Wilson. “I’ll say it whenever I
want to! Daisy! Dai ——”
Making a short deft movement,
Tom Buchanan broke her nose
with his open hand. (Chapter 2)
7. Action or Incident
Characters can be analyzed by looking at an
action or incident and how it affected them or
how they reacted to it.
What action did the character take when
confronted with a certain situation?
Is there and incident in the character’s past
that has shaped him or her as a character?
The action or incident determines the way the
character develops as the story goes on.
“I just got wised up to something funny the last two days,” remarked Wilson.
“That’s why I want to get away. That’s why I been bothering you about the car.”
[…] The relentless beating heat was beginning to confuse me and I had a bad
moment there before I realized that so far his suspicions hadn’t alighted on Tom.
He had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another
world, and the shock had made him physically sick. I stared at him and then at
Tom, who had made a parallel discovery less than an hour before — and it
occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or
race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well. Wilson was so
sick that he looked guilty, unforgivably guilty — as if he had just got some poor
girl with child. (Chapter 7)
8. Physical/Emotional Setting:
The setting of a story
affects the characters’
development as well as the
The physical setting of a
story is where the story is
actually taking place and
can affect the way a
The emotional setting of a
story is the series of
emotions that the character
deals with throughout the
One of the three shops [the building] contained was
for rent and another was an all-night restaurant,
approached by a trail of ashes; the third was a garage
— Repairs. George B. Wilson. Cars bought and sold. —
and I followed Tom inside.
The interior was unprosperous and bare; the only car
visible was the dust-covered wreck of a Ford which
crouched in a dim corner. (Chapter 2)
Any discussion of William Faulkner in a historical
context necessarily involves a discussion of
modernism. In modernism, as we have discussed,
we observe a conscious breaking with traditional
ideas about style, content, and purpose. Faulkner,
like Pound and Fitzgerald, typify the moral
atmosphere of modernism, which could be
summed up as despair over the condition of
humanity in the aftermath of the soul-wrenching
and materially devastating First World War (1914-
• Modernism is complex, and while some of these formal
experimenters rejected traditional values (Pound), others
wanted to uphold old values by new means (Eliot).
• Pound's work includes a sustained attack on Judeo-Christian
values and embraces the radical relativism of philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).
• Eliot uses his experimentations to plead for the continued
validity of traditional morals in a morally degenerate world.
• Faulkner is closer to Eliot than to Pound, which means that he is
formally a modernist while being morally and philosophically a
type of traditionalist. Faulkner could even be called a
reactionary—and in truth he was reacting, negatively, to much of
the transformation taking place in the world of his time.
In groups, discuss your QHQs and
1. Alienation and Loneliness
2. Anger and Hatred
3. Loyalty and Betrayal
4. Morals and Morality
5. Order and Disorder
QHQ: “Barn Burning”
1. Q: Why did Faulkner choose a ten year old boy as a protagonist? Is
there a correlation between age and honesty?
2. Q: What does the burning barns symbolize
3. Q: Was Sarty escaping his doomed bloodline?
4. Q: What does old blood mean in a story like this? Is it bad blood being
tarnished or old blood that was spilled?
5. Q: Does Abner Snopes suffer from mental illness or is he simply a
stubborn, angry, irrational man?
6. Q: How does justice play a role in “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner?
How does the dad’s view of justice differ from the son’s?
7. Q: Is this a story about the deep and lasting psychological damage
caused by war, about how the pieces that compose us are what destroy
and free us, or a combination of the two?
8. Q: How does a man deal with a perceived weakness in a society that
demands hyper masculinity?
• Read: “Barn Burning” 800-12
• Post #22 Provide a brief character analysis or discus a symbol
– de Spain
– Abner Snopes
– Lennie Snopes
– The soiled rug