To review how and why characterisation is central to
the development of the novel
Characterisation links to theme
Three of the themes link to how the characters
develop – especially Scout and Jem – through
(Loss of) innocence
Tools of characterisation
Harper Lee uses these methods to develop her characters’
Through Scout as a watchful narrator – Scout mostly
discusses how other people seem/are.
Find 2-3 different examples of Scout describing
Boo from different parts of the novel
Location – where characters live (indoors/outdoors; in
town/out of town) relates to their story
Rumours/gossip – the rumours are used as a clever way of
developing characters (“Every family has a streak”)
It is Scout’s unique personality and social standing that make her an
She defies many stereotypes about children – girls in particular – and
Southern Americans at that time.
Unusually intelligent: learns to read before school
Very confident: fights with boys, asserts her position
Thoughtful for a child of 6: considers morality and
Not a “Southern belle” or “girly”/gentle: she’s tough,
out-spoken; exhibits more masculine qualities
Atticus is the upstanding moral beacon of Maycomb, a devoted father and a
mild-mannered but strongly conscientious man.
Think of 5 different characters and write a sentence describing Atticus’s
treatment/attitude toward them. What does it reveal about Atticus’s personality?
Example: Atticus relates to Bob Ewell with a distance but always with
respect. He knows Bob is a guilty and unlawful man yet on the
stand, and even after Bob spits in his face, Atticus remains
composed and unwilling to sink to Bob’s level.
Choose 3 words to describe Atticus.
Characterisation & Symbolism
Most of the characters, even minor ones, stand for something or
represent an ideal that Lee wanted to underline the story.
Choose the most fitting word to associate with each character:
Jem, Dill, Miss Maudie, Tom Robinson, Atticus, Mrs.
Dubose, Boo Radley, Bob Ewell, Walter Cunningham
Direct characterisation is when the author simply tells the audience
what a character is like through adjectives, phrases or
Boo: "Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom”
Dill: “I’m little but I’m old”
Find an example of direct characterisation
of any one other character.
Indirect characterisation is when character is revealed through
their speech, actions and appearance.
(Through speech) Miss Stephanie Crawford:
"Well, you won't get very far until you start wearing
dresses more often.
And in response to this, through her actions…
‘Miss Maudie's hand closed tightly on mine, and I
said nothing. Its warmth was enough.’
Find an example of indirect characterisation of any one other
Characterisation of the mockingbird
The symbol of the mockingbird is a form of
characterisation on its own.
The mockingbirds of the novel show the
personality traits of the innocent.
Boo Radley and Tom, because they don’t speak
much in the novel, are characterised through
what happens to them, not what they can
Maycomb is like a character
of its own; Lee uses lots of indirect
characterisation to make the town
come to life.
Here is a passage from page 5 of the novel that creates both
atmosphere and setting: Write 2 sentences that summarise how Lee
has depicted the town.
‘Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first
knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on
the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was
hotter then, a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules
hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the lime
oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning.
Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by
nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet