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.

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