A Christmas Memory Essay
The method of concluding traits about a character is known as characterization, and it is when an author lets readers know any kind of information regarding the characters in a story. The two types of characterization are direct and indirect. Direct characterization occurs when an author directly states a trait of a character. Indirect, on the other hand, is used when the author shows a character’s trait through their actions, thoughts and speech, appearance, or that of another character.
Truman Capote’s short story “A Christmas Memory”, is about a young boy, referred to as “Buddy,” and his best friend, or older cousin, who is unnamed in the story. As a tradition, the two friends bake fruitcakes and send the baked goods to acquaintances they have met only once or twice, and to people they have never met at all. They live in a house with other relatives, who are authoritative and stern, and have a dog named Queenie. As the two try to make the best of their Christmas, complications occur and Buddy is sent off to military school, thus making it their last Christmas together.
Buddy’s friend would be characterized as: childish, kind, and religious. One of Buddy’s friend’s many traits is acting like a child. The narrator states so himself. “The other buddy died when she was still a child. She is still a child” (Capote 52). Through direct characterization, the author writes that Buddy’s friend is still a child even though she is a full grown adult. So therefore, she must act like one. Buddy’s friend also cries, despite her old age. “My friend gazes at her shoes, her chin quivers, she lifts her skirt and blows her nose and runs to her room . . I beg, teasing her toes, tickling her feet, “[Y]ou’re too old for that” (Capote 56). This woman is sixty-something years old, yet she cries as if she was a four-year-old because the other elders in the house lectured her. The part that makes her childish is not that she cries, because anyone can cry no matter what age, but she has no authority whatsoever when her elders yelled at her. She just listens to people who are around the same age as her and does not defend herself, like a child. Buddy even pleads her to stop sobbing.
In this situation, it seems as if their roles and personality are reversed, with Buddy being the adult, and his friend being the little child. Another example that adds to her childish behavior is that she walks around in the rain without a care in the world. “Here are a few things she has done, does do: . . . take walks in the rain” (Capote 54). A fully grown adult should know that they may get sick by soaking in the rain but Buddy’s friend does not. Like a child, she must only think of the fun and wonder it may be to play around in the rain, not the consequences, like catching a cold.
Buddy’s cousin is an extremely abnormal adult with the characteristics of being childish. It is absolutely ironic for someone of her age to be acting like that. In addition to being childish, Buddy’s friend is also warm-hearted. She sends fruitcakes to people she rarely knows. “Who are they for? . . . Indeed the larger share are intended for persons we’ve met maybe once, perhaps not at all. People who’ve struck our fancy. Like President Roosevelt” (Capote 55-56). Buddy’s cousin shows her gratitude to people by putting a lot of effort into cake making and sending it to them, even to those she has never met.
It is a bit strange to give cakes to people she does not know, and that shows just how kind she is. She also makes presents for everyone in the house. “Tie-dye scarves for the ladies, for the men a home-brewed lemon and licorice and aspirin syrup to be taken ‘at the first Symptoms of a Cold and after Hunting’” (Capote 59). She is so thoughtful, because she still considers what to give her family members for Christmas although they have made her cry endlessly. “Other people inhabit the house . . . and frequently make us cry” (Capote 52). Not only is she mindful towards her family members, but she is considerate towards others as well. ‘Well’, my friend remarks on our way home, ‘there’s a lovely man. We’ll put an extra cup of raisins in his cake’” (Capote 55). Lastly, she is kind to animals. She takes the time to feed a dog, while there are a lot of people out there who care for no one but themselves, let alone a dog, especially since animals are minors compared to humans.
All these examples demonstrate that she is a very kind-hearted person. The last of Buddy’s friend’s main character traits is religious. She does not read anything else except the Bible or funny papers. “In addition to never having seen a movie, she has never: . . read anything except funny papers and the Bible” (Capote 54). To be reading just the Bible and sometimes funny papers, is it clearly apparent that she believes and thinks about God, making her religious. Buddy’s cousin does not say God’s name in vain. “I could live on them, Buddy, Lord yes I could— and that’s not taking his name in vain” (Capote 59). Religious people read and listen to their Bible, so a swear to God’s name is obviously disrespectful, especially for religious people. This leads her to not disrespecting religion. “At the moment . . . (we suggested ‘A.
M’; and, then after some hesitation, for my friend though it perhaps sacrilegious, the slogan ‘A. M.! Amen! ’)” (Capote 53). At a time of brainstorming ideas, to be pondering on whether something is disrespectful to a religion is a very religious thing to do. Therefore, she is absolutely religious. These three examples are evidence that Buddy’s cousin is religious. Characterization not only takes a role on fictional individuals in stories, but also on reality’s society. In Daniel Keyes’s short story “Flowers for Algernon”, the main character, Charlie Gordon, is much like Buddy’s cousin.
The protagonists both display quite a few of the same traits. They are often kind to people who act stern and strict towards them, and are thoughtful towards others. For example, Charlie befriended a mouse named Algernon and treated Algernon as an equal, such as Buddy’s cousin treated Queenie. People in general can see for themselves in real life, by observing someone’s actions, thoughts and speech, appearance, or other people’s action, thoughts and speech, and appearance, they can attain quite a bit of information about the character.
Learn about the people who walk this planet, learn about their personality, their intention, anything, and everything! What kind of person is he or she? Are they intelligent, honest, or bitter? Are they these kinds of character traits by the way they present themselves or do they say it? People can apply these methods of distinguishing and examining characters into their own situations in life.
Capote, Truman. “A Christmas Memory. ” Literature and Language Arts Third Course. Ed. Kathleen Daniel and Mescal Evler. Austin: Holt, 2003. 51-60.