In real life, what we do is supposed to reflect our personality. What we are - to the others - is first and foremost what we do and what we look like : we are judged by the others through the prism of our physical appearance and of our own behavior. Doing something "reprehensible" according to "them" means we'll end up labeled because of the precise act we just committed, impacting on the relationship we'll then keep with these people. By stating, in one of his Journals, that "action is character" F. Scott Fitzgerald, seems to imply that in literature too, what the characters in a book do, reveal who they are. But is that true? Can we generalize and apply to literature a truth valid in "real life"? We'll see that it can be tempting to conclude that Fitzgerald has a point, since it seems quite obvious that in books action is character. We'll then go back more seriously on the implications of such a conclusion.
[...] Due to the special dimension of the literature universe, the reader has no clue what the characters are for real it is not as in movies . All we have is a couple of lines, and from them we will deduce the character's behaviours and their personalities. The reader's imagination does the whole work. So the interpretation depends greatly on the reader, his/her personal feelings towards the characters. There are so many ways of interpreting the same deeds. Characters have no existence on their own : they are “paper “beings, we imagine them real but it's a fiction ! [...]
[...] Actually Jake's character is all defined by what he will never do : make love to Brett. Therefore non-committed “action are also character”. But what is action for a character? We began by taking the concept of as granted, but what kind of action are we talking about? Actions taken individually or global actions the sum of action of one character? There, we have to conclude that character's action must be analyzed as a whole if we want to infer from them character's individualities. [...]
[...] Action is definitely character Decisions characters make, the way they express themselves: it is actually the only information we have about them since we can't see them for real but just imagine them. Thus, it has to be specified here that, action will be taken in a broad sense, including “gestures” and real “actions” reported in descriptions but also actions contained in dialogue : because talking is an action obviously ! Keeping silent is also one. All this will help us in arguing that yes, action is character: character's identities can be drawn thanks to their action. [...]
[...] Dick's action is no doubt a reflection of his state of mind, of the way he has of expressing it and thus of his personality. The topic of the sun and protection from it is recurrent in Dick and Rosemary's relationship (on Dick's am going to save you reason, I'm going to give you a hat to wear on the beach (p.38) he says when welcoming her to his party. Here we can see that Dick is more reserved when it comes to revelation of his feelings, and many more scenes in the book will confirm that point: for instance, at the first party the Diver's give, Rosemary openly (again!) tells Dick that she has fallen in love with him, whereas Dick does as if he hadn't hear anything at all new friends he replies (p.40). [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee