Portrait of a Character: Group Project

Brave New World


Main Character

Minor Character














Task One, due by _____________________

  1. In your group, share key passages you have found (passage = a paragraph to 2.5 pages) that reveal important information about what your main character is like and how other important characters see him/her. 
  2. Compile a list of the 10 BEST key passages*.  Only include the best parts of the book that help you understand how your character is portrayed.  Keep in mind the following:  None of the characters are flat, simple characters.  All have their complications.  Your list of passages should cover the range of your character’s complexities.  Don’t choose passages that keep showing the same things over and over again.
  3. *Write your list as follows:
    • Write your character’s name in BIG letters across the top of the paper.
    • Give the page number(s) where you found the passage.
    • Give the first sentence of the passage and the last sentence of the passage.
    • Summarize in one or two sentences what is happening in this passage.
  4. Show this list to Ms. Spachman and get it approved.


Task Two, due by ______________________

[While this is going on, the artist and one other person should start Task Three.]

  1. Now find key passages that reveal important information about what your minor character is like and how other important characters see him/her.
  2. Compile a list of the 4-5 BEST key passages following steps 2-4 listed under Task One above.


Task Three, due by _____________________

Using the 10 key passages you’ve found that best convey the portrayal of your main character, start sketching a portrait of this character.  Please follow the guidelines below:

    • First and foremost, this is a sketch, not a final drawing/painting.  Literally sketch out your ideas and jot other ideas you have down in the margins of your paper.  DO NOT spend hours trying to get your sketch perfect…. You won’t be turning it in as a final product.
    • Your sketch must be a “portrait,” meaning that the person you’re sketching should be the most important part of the drawing.  You can accomplish this either by drawing your person to fill 70% or so of your paper, focusing in on their upper body and particularly their face (like most of the Frida Kahlo portraits).  OR  You can accomplish this by centering the person within your sketch and having all the items around him/her be related to him/her (like “The Voluptuary” picture).
    • Your portrait should not have any other people in it besides your main character.
    • Your sketch must include and go beyond the literal.  This means that if you’re drawing Bernard and we know he is short and skinny, then your sketched Bernard should also appear short and skinny.  (This is the literal.)  However, the whole point of this portrait is to portray your character in a way that shows your deep understanding of him/her.  Therefore, you must make other choices in your drawing to show the personality of your character.  For example, would Bernard look straight out at his audience?  Off to the side?  Lower his eyes as if he were looking down?  If a character changes drastically from when we first meet him/her until the end of the book, how will you “draw” that change?  What other items will you include in your portrait to communicate something about your character?  How will you use shading?


Task Four, due by _____________________

Now that you’ve compiled two lists of key passages, one for your major character and one on your minor character, you need to use these passages to create a word portrait of each character.  Your “word portrait” should attempt to portray your character in all his/her complexities AND it should be a “progressive” portrait—a portrait of how the character changes from the beginning to the end of the novel.  Follow the steps below:

1.       For each character, brainstorm a list of adjectives that you could use to describe the character.  (I recommend using your 100 Human Types list, a thesaurus, and a dictionary while you do this.)

2.       Pull brief quotes (1-2 sentences) said by characters out of your key passages that exemplify some of the adjectives you picked.  For example, if you have Bernard or John, you might want to pull a quote from p. 137 to illustrate their outsider status.  Write these quotes with the page number you found them on next to the appropriate adjective.  Pick out only really good, significant quotes.  Don’t force a quote to fit an adjective.

3.       Review and refine your list for each character.  Eliminate words that aren’t really necessary or find better words to communicate how this character is portrayed.  (This is like what we did with the portraits of Marilyn Monroe.  First we made a big list of possible words to describe her portrayal and then we went back and got rid of the ones that didn’t work well…..*ahem*…. “schizophrenic”.)

4.       Graphically arrange your word portraits on a piece of paper.  However you choose to arrange your words and quotes, you should pick a format that will show the “progression”/way the character changed from beginning to end.  Some graphic organizer ideas appear below with recommendations on this.


Task Five, due by _____________________

Get a piece of paper from Ms. Spachman.  Then create the final picture portrait of your main character (after showing the sketch to the whole group and discussing the layout and final design decisions).  Again, this picture should communicate both a literal and a more figurative understanding of this character in Brave New World.  You may paint it, draw it with colored pencils, use charcoal, whatever medium you’d like as long as it is appropriate to the portrayal you’re trying to convey.  (For example, painting Bernard in clown-like colors probably wouldn’t be an appropriate choice.)


Task Six, due by _____________________