Elements of a
You will need several (3-5+) different colors of
highlighters for this activity.
For this activity, you will work in small groups. Each
group will be assigned one or more character sketches taken from The
House on Mango Street and There Are No Children Here. Here is
what you must do.
Read the character sketch(es) your group has been assigned silently
to yourself. As you read, focus on how the author has presented the main
character(s) in the sketch. Each text is labeled as to who the main
characters are that you should focus on.
Next, work together to do the following.
HIGHLIGHT all/most of the lines/words in your text that
describe what your character LOOKS LIKE.
Use one particular color of
highlighter to mark this in your text and highlight the bulleted line above
in that color so you remember what that color represents. (If you have more
than one text to read, use the same color even though the character might be
different in each text. If your text has more than one character to focus
on, highlight both with the same color.)
Ok, that was the easy part. Now for the hard stuff. Authors do much
more than include physical descriptions of their characters in stories.
They also include other elements to give their characters dimension. Your
job is to re-read the text(s) you were given to uncover what other elements
have been used to give the main character(s) in your sketch(es)
dimension/depth. As you re-read, use different highlighters to mark
different kinds of information that the author is using to create that
character. Talk to your group mates about what you’re finding as you go.
Make a key as to what the colors mean. You can write this key right on the
text of the story.
Group A: Read and study #1 and 3.
Group B: Read and study #2, 3, and 4.
Group C: Read and study #5.
Group D: Read and study #6.
Group E: Read and study #7.
Sample text for looking at and marking the elements of a character
Focus on “he” and “she”
by Raymond Carver
Early that day the weather turned and the snow
was melting into dirty water. Streaks of it ran down from the little
shoulder-high window that faced the backyard. Cars slushed by on the street
outside, where it was getting dark. But it was getting dark on the inside
He was in the bedroom pushing clothes into a
suitcase when she came to the door. I'm glad you're leaving! I'm glad you're
leaving! she said. Do you hear?
He kept on putting his things into the
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?
Then she noticed the baby's picture on the bed
and picked it up.
He looked at her and she wiped her eyes and
stared at him before turning and going back to the living room.
Bring that back, he said.
Just get your things and get out, she said.
He did not answer. He fastened the suitcase,
put on his coat, looked around the bedroom before turning off the light.
Then he went out to the living room.
She stood in the doorway of the little
kitchen, holding the baby.
I want the baby, he said.
Are you crazy?
No, but I want the baby. I'll get someone to
come by for his things.
You're not touching this baby, she said.
The baby had begun to cry
and she uncovered the blanket from around his head.