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https://www.test.storyboardthat.com/articles/e/oscar-direct-indirect-characterization



OSCAR is an acronym designed to help readers understand direct and indirect characterization. Through the use of OSCAR, as a reading and writing strategy, readers are asked to think and write about the different ways they learn about a character.

What are Direct and Indirect Characterization?


As readers interact with a story, relevant information about important characters is revealed through direct and indirect characterization.

Direct Characterization most often occurs when the author specifically reveals traits of the character to the reader. When the author or narrator explicitly states something about the character, this is direct characterization. Here, the reader can learn a character's thoughts, feelings, physical characteristics, or motivations.

Indirect Characterization is when the reader learns about the character indirectly. The reader has to infer or assume information about the character based on interactions that are not straightforward. For example, indirect characterization can be learned through: a character's dialogue, how other characters see them, their actions, how they treat others or their relationships, and how they treat themselves or view their overall place in the world.

Can you guess which example is direct characterization and which is indirect?

EXAMPLE ANSWER
"I watched Aaron as his face turned white, and his hands began to shake as they hovered over the phone." Indirect characterization: The reader assumes that Aaron is upset because his face turned white, and his hands were shaking. When the reader assumes or infers information based on what they read, it is indirect characterization.
"Stephanie is a tall, beautiful woman with amazing artistic abilities." Direct characterization: The reader is explicitly told that Stephanie is a tall, beautiful woman. It was said in a direct, straightforward way.
"Hey Sarah, thanks for lending me that outfit; it must have been expensive." Indirect characterization: Nothing is stated about Sarah. Instead, the reader infers information about her through the dialogue. For instance, when her friend thanks her, it suggests that she is a good friend. Also, when her friend mentions that it must have been expensive, the reader could assume that Sarah has money, or is very generous.

Using OSCAR

OSCAR Helps You Answer the Questions:

  • How do we know who a character is?
  • What ways do we, as readers, learn about their values and traits?
  • What is direct and indirect characterization?


Breaking Down OSCAR

LETTER DEFINITION
O - Other Characteristics What do other characters say about the character?
S - Speech What does the character say about others or themselves? How can we infer meaning and traits from what a character says?
C - Physical Characteristics What does the character look like? What descriptive words are used to describe them?
A - Author's Attitude How does the author feel about this character?
R - Reader's Reaction How do you, as the reader, feel about the character?

Application: What Do I Do When Reading a Novel?


When reading a novel, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. By creating a character map in Storyboard That, readers can record subtle information, helping them follow along and catch the nuances that make reading more enjoyable!


Classroom Extension: How Do I Use This in My Classroom?


  1. Choose a novel or short story that contains three or more characters.

  2. Copy the OSCAR template.

  3. Replace the “NAME” placeholder with the name of each character.

  4. While reading, look for each type of characterization OSCAR style. Write direct quotes that answer each letter of the mnemonic device. These direct quotes will show the use of indirect or direct characterization.

  5. Before completion, choose a Storyboard That character to portray each character from the novel. Using the drag and drop feature, place them in the box to the left. You can even add a background, like in the example below!



Example Project for Lord of the Flies

Example Rubric

OSCAR
Indirect and Direct Characterization
Proficient
33 Points
Emerging
25 Points
Beginning
17 Points
Direct Characterization quotes
Using the acronym OSCAR the student was able to find 3 or more quotes that exemplify direct characterization.

The student also had them correctly labeled next to the corresponding letter.
Using the acronym OSCAR the student was able to find 1 or 2 quotes that exemplify direct characterization.

Some error may have occurred when labeling the quotes next to the corresponding letter.
Using the acronym OSCAR the student was able to find find a few examples of direct characterization.

Some error may have occurred when labeling the quotes next to the corresponding letter.
Indirect Characterization quotes
Using the acronym OSCAR the student was able to find 3 or more quotes that exemplify indirect characterization.

The student also had them correctly labeled next to the corresponding letter.

For extra credit the student explained the significance of their examples and inferred meaning.
Using the acronym OSCAR the student was able to find 1 or 2 quotes that exemplify indirect characterization.

Some error may have occurred when labeling the quotes next to the corresponding letter.
Using the acronym OSCAR the student was able to find 1 or 2 quotes that exemplify direct characterization.

Some error may have occurred when labeling the quotes next to the corresponding letter.
Use of characters and imagery
Student completed the storyboard using characters that match their full description.

Careful thought and consideration was used in all details including physical appearance, clothing, height, weight, etc.
Student completed the storyboard using characters that somewhat match the full description.

Thought and consideration was used in details including physical appearance, clothing, height, weight, etc.
Student completed the storyboard using characters that did not match the full description. Thought and consideration was not used in choosing details such as physical appearance, clothing, height, weight, etc.


After Completing the Storyboard - Follow up Discussion


When readers have completed their storyboard, they should think and write about the direct and indirect characterization, based on the recorded evidence.

Using their answers to OSCAR, they should ask and answer the following questions:

  1. What do you know about the character? How do you know that?

  2. Who are they?

  3. How do others see them?

  4. How do you, as a reader, see them?

  5. Why do you think the author feels (insert adjective) about that character?


Related Activities

Check out these OSACR activities from our guides on The Fault in Our Stars, The Minister's Black Veil, and The Color Purple.




How to Use OSCAR for Character Analysis in Reading

1

Understand Direct and Indirect Characterization

Familiarize yourself with the concepts of direct and indirect characterization. Direct characterization involves explicit statements about a character's traits, while indirect characterization requires inference and observation of the character's actions, dialogue, and relationships.

2

Learn about OSCAR

Understand the components of OSCAR, which stands for Other Characteristics, Speech, Physical Characteristics, Author's Attitude, and Reader's Reaction. Each component represents a different aspect of character analysis and helps readers gain a deeper understanding of the character.

3

Analyze Other Characteristics

Pay attention to what other characters say about the character you are studying. Look for descriptions, opinions, and interactions that provide insights into the character's traits, values, and relationships with others.

4

Examine Speech

Analyze the character's own speech to understand their perspectives, attitudes, and beliefs. Consider what they say about themselves and others, and infer meaning and character traits from their words and expressions.

5

Evaluate Physical Characteristics

Observe the physical appearance of the character and note any descriptive details provided by the author. Consider how their appearance contributes to their characterization and what it reveals about their personality or role in the story.

6

Assess Author's Attitude and Reader's Reaction

Consider the author's attitude towards the character and how it influences the reader's understanding. Reflect on your own emotional response to the character and how it evolves throughout the story.

Frequently Asked Questions about Direct and Indirect Characterization

How can understanding characterization improve my child's reading comprehension and analysis skills?

Understanding characterization can greatly improve your child's reading comprehension and analysis skills in several ways:

  • It helps them understand the motives and behaviors of the characters: When children understand the direct and indirect characterization of the characters in a story, they can better understand why the characters act the way they do, and this can help them make more sense of the plot.
  • It allows them to make predictions and connections: When children can identify and analyze the characterization in a story, they can make predictions about what may happen next based on the character's behavior or personality traits. They can also connect with the characters on a deeper level, which can lead to a greater appreciation and enjoyment of the story.
  • It improves critical thinking skills: Analyzing characterization requires critical thinking and observation skills. Children must pay close attention to the details presented about a character and draw conclusions based on those details. This type of critical thinking can help them develop their analytical skills, which are useful not only in reading but in other areas of life as well.

Are there any common misconceptions about characterization that parents and teachers should be aware of?

  • Characters are always either "good" or "bad": One common misconception is that characters in a story are always clearly defined as either good or bad. However, in reality, most characters are more complex and nuanced than that. They may have both positive and negative qualities, and their behavior may change over the course of the story.
  • Direct characterization is always more effective than indirect characterization: Another misconception is that direct characterization, where the author explicitly tells the reader about a character's traits and qualities, is always more effective than indirect characterization, where the reader must infer the character's traits from their actions and behavior. However, both types of characterization can be effective, and authors often use a combination of both to create a well-rounded character.

How do different types of characterization impact a story's plot and theme?

The types of characterization used by an author can greatly impact a story's plot and theme. Direct characterization, where the author explicitly tells the reader about a character's traits and qualities, can be used to establish the basic details about a character, such as their name, age, and physical appearance. It can also be used to reveal more specific information, such as the character's occupation, personality, and beliefs. This information can help to move the plot forward and can also give insight into the story's themes. For example, if a character is presented as kind and generous, this may suggest that themes of compassion and empathy are important in the story.

Indirect characterization, on the other hand, requires the reader to infer a character's traits and qualities based on their actions, behavior, and dialogue. This type of characterization can be more subtle and complex, and can often reveal more about a character's personality and motivations than direct characterization. For example, if a character is shown to be constantly lying, this may suggest that themes of deception and manipulation are present in the story. Similarly, if a character is shown to be conflicted about a decision, this may suggest that themes of morality and decision-making are important.

Overall, the type of characterization used by an author can greatly impact how a reader understands and interprets a story's plot and themes. By carefully crafting their characters and using both direct and indirect characterization, authors can create a rich and nuanced world that draws readers in and encourages them to think deeply about the story's themes and messages.

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