Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Character T-chart

A character chart helps us understand the characters we read about in books. It helps us understand why they do what they do, and say what they say. It also helps us know why we feel as we do toward the characters we read about.

There are two parts to a character chart: external character traits and internal character traits.

External traits are things about the character that we can see or notice with our other senses, like smell or hear. External traits also include physical descriptions about how they look. Their color or hair or eyes, their stature-are they tall or short, how they walk or talk, and also what their status is, are they a king or peasant, for example.

You create the external part by listing the external traits that you find in the book. Use quotes from the book that shows that external characteristic, citing page numbers at the end. (see example)

Internal character traits are words that describe the person’s character. They may be words used by the author to describe the character, or they may be actions or words of the character that reveal or show what the character trait is. For example, if you see your neighbor struggling to load a lot of boxes into their car, and you go and help him load them, then you reveal that you are helpful, considerate, and thoughtful.

To record the internal traits, you list the trait in bold lettering-patient, kind, cruel, obedient, hardworking, etc. Then under the trait, you write the exact words that prove the person has that trait. (see example) You can record as many incidents of a specific trait as you want. The more you have, the persuasive your evidence is that the person actually hass that character trait.

Why do Character Studies?

Character charts are useful tools in examining characters in history, literature, and poetry. Elder Richard G. Scott instructed, “Faith will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need. Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is used. Character is woven patiently from threads of principle, doctrine, and obedience” (“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character.” Ensign. November 2011). One purpose for creating character charts is to reason or evaluate the development of characters. Another purpose for this method is the development of character in the reader as the noble character of others is examined. A third purpose is to develop the reader’s ability to reason, particularly from cause to effect.

Sample T-chart 

A sample T-chart can be found here.  Instead of a list, the characteristics can be listed side by side with internal on one side and external on the other giving your paper the "T" shape.


Here are the steps to doing a word study followed by a sample word study on PEACEMAKER:

1 - Select a word to focus on.

2 - Look it up in the Webster 1828 dictionary. It can be found online, here.  Select the definition for your focus (sometimes there is more than one definition)

3 - Underline key words that stand out to you and define them if you don't know what they mean.

4 - Looking at how the word is used in Conference addresses. (Not in general quotes or other articles, at least for this purpose...) "Words of the Wise"

5 - Looking at how the word is used in the scriptures.

6 - Rewrite the definition in your own words.

7 - Write a short paragraph about how you will apply what you learned.


Word Study on PEACEMAKER

PE'ACEMAKER, n. One who makes peace by reconciling parties that are at variance.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Matt.5.

I.  Words of the Wise

"Have you ever wondered how you could be a peacemaker? I would like to mention a few possibilities. Really, our opportunities are unlimited. Certainly in our homes, as well as elsewhere, we can all be peacemakers by exhibiting love and goodwill, thus offsetting the evil of contention, envy, and jealousy. Where misunderstandings exist between children and parents we can encourage adjustments on the part of both. We can pray together for the spirit of peace. Homes can be seriously disrupted because of family strife. At times, husbands and wives in an atmosphere of contention destroy their own happiness as well as that of their children."

"Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer. One way I have seen it done is to search for anything on which we agree. To be that peacemaker, you need to have the simple faith that as children of God, with all our differences, it is likely that in a strong position we take, there will be elements of truth. The great peacemaker, the restorer of unity, is the one who finds a way to help people see the truth they share. That truth they share is always greater and more important to them than their differences. You can help yourself and others to see that common ground if you ask for help from God and then act. He will answer your prayer to help restore peace, as He has mine."
---HENRY B. EYRING Oct 2008

"In Romania I met Raluca, a 17-year-old young woman who had recently joined the Church. Her baptism was a happy event because, among other things, her whole family attended. Her mother and sister felt the Spirit there and wanted to have the missionary discussions too. This concerned the father, for he felt he was losing all of his family to this unfamiliar church. So he did not allow it, and for a time there was a feeling of discord in their family. However, Raluca remembered that she had made a baptismal covenant to take upon her the name of Jesus Christ. She tried to hold up His light by doing in her home the things He would do. She was a peacemaker. She was an example. She was a teacher. She was a healer. Eventually her father’s heart softened, and he allowed the others to learn more about the Church. Then they too were baptized. And finally, much to everyone’s joy, the father of the family also joined the Church. At his baptism he spoke and said that for a time their family had been as two hearts beating at a different rhythm in the same household. But now they were of one faith and one baptism, with their hearts knit together in unity and love. He gave thanks to the missionaries and members who had helped them. Then he paid a special tribute to his daughter Raluca for being so Christlike in their home during that difficult period, for being the peacemaker, the healer, the teacher, the example, and the light that eventually brought their entire family to the Church of Jesus Christ."
--- SUSAN W. TANNER Apr 2006

"Sometimes being benevolent is most difficult in our own families. Strong families require effort. Be cheerful, helpful, and considerate of others. Many problems in the home are created because family members speak and act selfishly or unkindly. Concern yourself with the needs of other family members. Seek to be a peacemaker rather than to tease, fight, and quarrel. Remember this: 'kindness begins with me.'"
--- MARY N. COOK Apr 2011

II. Scriptures

Matthew 5:9 & 3 Nephi 12:9
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

Psalms 133:1
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

Ephesians 4:3
"Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Mosiah 18:21
"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another."

III.  My definition

My definition of PEACEMAKER is anyone who makes peace, restores unity and offsets contention. A peacemaker is someone who seeks love and goodwill holding up the light of Christ and doing all the He would do. Being a peacemaker requires effort. It requires a resolve to concern ourselves with the needs of others first and ask for God's help so that our hearts can be knit together in unity and love.

  1. Application

I can and should always strive to be a peacemaker and make peace , especially in my home where Satan is trying to destroy my family through contention, selfishness, unkindness, teasing, fighting and quarreling. As a mom, if I have the spirit of contention I can destroy the peace of not only myself, but also of my children. I must always remember that “Kindness begins with me!”

Researching an Author

Research the author and take a few notes on important aspects of their lives, including: when and where they lived, how they were raised, what their education was like, what belief system they professed and taught, what their awards and accomplishments were and what others said about them. This doesn't need to be time-consuming. It can usually be done on the internet in under an hour. But this information will be invaluable to you as you strive to truly understand classics and find principles in them. Here's why:

“…you should keep in mind that every work of literature is presented to you by some other human being with motives of her own. Though it may seem natural to identify with the characters in a story or to assume that the speaker in a poem is really the author in disguise, you should try to keep in mind that the author is controlling what you get to see and when and how you get to see it. That is, a work of literature is not a neutral presentation of the facts. Indeed, because it‟s not a report but an opportunity for social practice, literature is almost always just made up. So, while you should think about the work of literature 'from the inside,' you should also think about it from the outside. Why is this author telling me these things in this way? What does she want me to conclude? About what? If the nature of this task seems hard to pin down, think about how the gossip you hear from your friends often tells you more about them than it does about their intended victims. Literature works the same way: there are surface meanings in the story itself and meanings one step back, in the author‟s mind. It‟s good to keep all these possibilities in your mind.”

That is why, the more you know about the author the easier it will be for you to look for their biases and opinions; to be aware of what it is they are trying to teach. Especially in fictional writing, where the entire story is “made up,” the author can say or do anything and it works because it‟s not real life. If the author has a strong handle on true principles and human nature, their story will enlighten and inspire you, if not, there will be a great need for you to be careful and discerning. 

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Victor Hugo was a family man, highly educated and politically active, he lived during a time of political upheaval and wrote Les Miserables while in exile. It was an instant success and upon his return to France his countrymen hailed him as a hero. Les Miserable has remained a powerful national classic ever since. 
  • Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, actively denounced the market system while he supported his family on the charity of a friend who inherited his fortune from his father‟s successful business ventures. 

Taking time to understand the author is great practice for real life. Most of the people you meet will not share many of your opinions and will not necessarily know or understand the truth themselves. When someone wants to give you some “good advise,” you will be better equipped to discern their biases and beliefs and weigh them against what they are is telling you because you have developed this skill. You will notice that over time the truth in others‟ opinions will become clearer and you will be deceived less often.

Also remember that learning about the author is every bit as important when reading non-fiction and histories as it is when reading fiction. To learn more about this read point #1 in the histories section. Just remember, studying the author before you read any book will give you insights you could not have otherwise.

--- From the article "Getting the Book Through You" 
By Audrey Rindlisbacher and the Ten Boom Institute