Character?s Role in Making a Story
Character, stories are affected in many ways by this seemingly small aspect of a short story. Just the use of certain characters in a story can change the way we perceive a story. Some characters hardly receive a mention in the story, but that small part can change the outcome. Other characters have traits about them that the entire story is based around. Whatever story you look at character has a huge role in determining how the story ends.
The major character in most stories is a dynamic character, they bring most of the action into a story. In the story "A good man is Hard to Find" the grandmother is a prime example of a dynamic character. The story revolves around the grandmother?s actions. The grandmother inadvertently leads her family into an accident "There was a secret panel in this house, she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing she were", by saying these words to her family she leads them into the car accident that eventually leads to the death of her and the ones she loves. By being the person the story is about, the grandmother gets described fully, and is therefore not only a dynamic character but also a round character. Her emotions are seen in many situations in the story by things she says, and her thoughts brought to the reader in detail. This type of character is one of the most important members of the cast in most all stories. It is this person that most everything revolves around.
Opposite from dynamic characters, there are static characters in the story that help to drive the story forward. Static characters usually have little or no information on what they?re doing, thinking, or feeling ever mentioned. Static characters don?t change throughout the story. For instance the father of the family in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is a static, flat character. He plays a minimal role in the story, but is very important to the outcome. The grandmother blames the father for the car accident even though it wasn?t his fault. In this case the father is being used by the author to drive the story forward. Any character could have been driving the vehicle, but it isn?t important who is driving because the main point of this story is not about the father. Static characters do play vital roles in stories because they allow the story to flow better, but without the static character’s personality taking away from the story. The father is a flat character because he is undeveloped, he doesn?t get brought into the main flow of the story. This is one example of a simple static, flat character.
"Popular Mechanics" breaks the rules when it comes to looking at the regular static character. In this story there are only static characters. "Son of a bitch! I?m so glad you?re leaving! She began to cry. You can?t even look me in the face, can you?" the most detailed comment on the other person in this story comes from the mouth of the woman. Amazing how the author uses the characters in this story to dramatize his ideas without looking deeply into their personalities. Throughout the story the mother and father of a baby argue and fight, but never in the story do you get a detailed look into their personalities. The characters are never fully realized for the individuals that they are, instead the reader attention is focused on what is going on and said. These people?s personalities, morals, and pasts never come into the story. Two flat static characters are the only means in which Carver chose to work with to write this piece of work and get an idea across to the reader. There is a strong point to this story that shows that even thought there might be no dynamic character in the story, it still has meaning and can be written.
Many other things affect characters and how they are perceived. A question in the literature book asks a question that is easy to answer about character. "Does our response to characters change as the story progresses?" Absolutely our thoughts can change about a certain character as the story progresses, but it definitely doesn?t have to. This aspect of character is essential to how we respond to anything we read. A character can make a story interesting by just changing our emotions about that particular character. Every person that reads the same story can have a different reaction to a character in a story, what they think of that character may influence their thoughts on that story. One thing a reader shouldn?t be forced to do is keep first impressions of characters as the only impression. If readers do that, then a point, or theme could be missed but keeping one impression throughout a story is unlikely because people change their minds often.
The names of characters may affect our initial impression of them. "I had a buddy in Vietnam. His name was Bob Kiley, but everybody called him Rat." the first line describing rat was how his real name is Bob in the story "How to Tell a True War Story". Now imagine if throughout the entire story rat is referred to as Bob. Would you think that the story would have to be told giving more detail of Bob?s personality before he really made an impression on the story? Tim O?Brien may not know it, but by using rat as the name of choice, has already given a mental idea to everybody of what rat is like. Names of characters can also give a sense of who they are if they are stock characters. Take the name O?Brien for instance, would this be a Vietnamese soldier in this story, most likely not. But if a man named O?Brien is brought into the story as a beer drinking Irishman, most people wouldn?t think twice about it. This is the most important aspect of stock characters, that the author can put characters in a story without explaining much about them and still having the reader understand things about them.
No matter what type of story a person is looking at, different things about character is going to be used somewhere in a story. Character is a vital part in making stories good or bad just by the way a person is described or acts. The simple explanation of "character" is the various small details about a person that make them a complex part of the plot.