Monday, September 28, 2009

Interesting characters in Short Stories

I like to read short stories a lot.
Let me tell you some interesting facts about short stories.
Short story is a popular literary genre, a fictional narrative prose and it is more concise than fiction. Short stories are less complex than novel. Generally a short story focuses on one incident, has a single plot, single setting, limited number of characters and covers short period.

Elements of short stories are Plot, Narrative viewpoint, Characterization, Language and style.
Within these elements, I find Characterization very interesting. Characterization plays a very important role in short story.
Characterization refers to the author’s manner of presenting his individuals. If the characterization is direct the reader is told at the traits that identify the characters either by the narrator or by the character, if indirect the reader learns about the character through his actions.

Recently I read various short stories of Khushwant Singh, which has a flavour of Indian culture. Let me tell you about the interesting characters in these stories in brief.

In the short story, "Karma", Khushwant singh has elaborately sketched the character of Sir Mohanlal and Lachmi,his wife. The character of Sir Mohanlal is revealed through his thoughts and feelings. When he thinks about his personality and image, he appears snobbish and proud. He calls himself as distinguished, efficient and handsome. He regards Indians as inefficient, dirty and indifferent. This discloses his hypocrisy. Further the author gives the physical description and behavior of the character. He has acquired the manners and attitudes of the upper class, he imitates Englishmen and likes to talk on books politicks and people. He considers his wife as dirty and smelling like any other countryman in India He thinks that being Indian is shameful. This reveals his frivolous nature. He can be called as flat character as he does not change throughout the story.
The character of Lachmi is contrasted with him. It is more authentic. She represents a common Indian. This character is revealed through description. Author describes her as she is more than forty five,fat,fair and short. She wares a dirty white sari with a red border. One side of her nose gistened a diamond ring and she had several gold bangles on her arms. After this physical description author describes her behavior, that she is talkative. She chews betel leaves, eats chapattis with mango pickle. She reflects typical Indian ness trough her dialogues and behavior, hence she is a type or stereotypical character. The minor characters are the coolie,Bill and Jim and the bearer. By this way the characterization is done and it helps the story to proceed further and enables the reader to draw a conclusion. In Mark of Vishnu, The protagonist is Gungaram. The minor Characters are children of Gunga Ram’s master, The teacher,Kala nag and school children.Here the minor characters are not focused at all. The story revolves around GingaRam and his nature. Author portrays him as illiterate and superstitious figure. The description reveals that he is very religious and interested in rituals. He gives a sassure full milk to the cobra without knowing the science that snakes do not drink milk. His blind belief over the religois stories does not let him think rationally. He represents a stcok character.He stands for the group of peipoe in India whio believe in supersticioud nad it is really impossible to convince the tha t it is wrong .Gunga Ram proves to be a tragic figure as thae story comes to its emnd,Where cobra bites him,and he dies. Author successfully leaves a melancholic note through his character His character conveys that how blind belief leads to destruction.

In the story "Voice of God", The antagonist Sardar Ganda Singh is focused more to satirize the Indian political system.The characters are revealed here through description.Author porttraies the character of Ganda Singh by describing his behavior and his personality.ilke, He is tall and corpulent,his eyes were darkened with antimony and his trimmed glossy black beard gave him the lecherous look.he wore a white shirt which hung just above his knees and a pair of baggy Punjabi trousers whose blue silk cord was displayed under the hem of the shirt.On his feet he wore a pair of black pumps which squeaked as he walked.This elaborate description enables the reader to understand that how this character is .He was always accompanied by two armed men. This shows that how he is powerful and rich. He represents the rude leaders of Indian political system who always win the election with the help of money, power and all wrong ways. He is a type character. The other major characters in the story are Kartar Singh and Baba Ram Singh. These characters are also revealed through description. Kartar Singh is a city lawyer who takes help of Seth Sukhtankar who is millionaire owning a chain of cloth mills and well-known nationalist leader. Author discloses the dishonest and corrupt nature of these characters by telling the ways by which they made their fortune. Author uses them to show the corruption in politicts. Author introduces Baba ram Singh as a very honest and genuinely patriotic person who is not corrupt and willing to work for farmers who are suffering a lot. He had been arrested several times for peasant movements. He was homeless. People respect him a lot for his sacrifice and honesty. He is popularly known as Babaji. His character stands for the hones and patriotic persons who still exist in politics. He is a total contrast with other major characters. He is a static character as he is firm and does not undergo significant change. The minor characters are Forsythe,Zalidars,lambardars and villagers who contribute to the effect of the story.

In the story, "Man how the government of India run", the major characters are Sunder Singh, Ghosh Babu,Sambamurty they are type character as they represent a type and minor characters are Clerk, Chaparasi,manager of the restaurant. Here the characters are revealed through the dialogues and actions between the characters. The central character is of Sundar Singh. Author describes his behaviour in detail and discloses his lazy and hypocrite nature. His character enables the author to satirize the officials in Government office i.e. Indian beaurocracy.Sundar singh and his colleagues reveal their own follies when they praise and boast themselves. They represent the people who are corrupt irresponsible, hypocrite, lazy and still think that Government of India run due to them. They arise the humour and irony. Author successfully discloses this truth through their conversation and description of their behavior where we come across the art of characterization.

In the story "Kusum",author portrays a character of a young girl called Kusum.This character is revealed through description, that she was a short, fat and has dark oval face spotted with small pox marks. Author narrates about her nature that she is good-natured, traditional, unattractive but clever in studies. Old people like her but not the young. The Her character changes at the end of the story, so it can be called as dynamic character as there occurs a change in behavior and views. The minor characters are hawker her college friends who contributes to the change in central character.

In "Death comes to Daulat Ram", characters are revealed through description and thoughts and feelings of the central character. There is not much scope given to the characters but they add to the effect of the story.Ranga is the protagonist who can be called as Stock character, which represents any common man who believes in intuitions and loves his family. One major character in the story is the beggar, which adds to the mystery, suspense and supernatural elements in the story. Silver locks, bushy eyebrows, wrapped turban, his melancholy stare, etc. are the words which describe him .The minor characters in the story are nurse, Ranga’s brother, barman, moti, Daulatram and his relatives. These characters only contribute to the story. They don’t have much significance.

In the story "Grandmother",the major character is grandmother. Author has unfolded various aspects of her personality. Remain static till the end of the story. The story ends on a tragic note. Her character is different shades like dynamic character but her character is revealed by her behaviour and shows that she is type character. She does not change her way of thinking and remain firm on her nature. She is loving and caring. She is religious. Author describes her as old women and with wrinkles. Though she is static in her principles and religious she is courageous, generous, and loving also.

The "Insurance Agent" is the ironical comic story, which unfold the mysterious person and his uncommon behaviour. This character is Mr.Swami whose name is introduced much later in the story is revealed through his behaviour and dialogues. The protagonist is insurance agent, People’s thoughts and reactions also his image in their minds. His character conveys that he is a happy, light hearted, philosophical, sympathetic, sensitive and humorous person who greets and praises others, pretends to be rich, and remains mysterious through out the story. He can be called as round character as he is complex.

These are the glimpses of various stories, but it’s really interesting to analyze different characters and their nature.

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