The Darkness Out There Character Analysis Essay examples

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Analysis of Characterization in "The Darkness Out There
Analysis of Characterization in "The Darkness Out There"

‘The Darkness Out There’ and ‘The Withered Arm’ are both short stories. The characterization techniques they use are contrasting and similar. Each story is from a different time; ‘The Withered Arm’ being 19th century and ‘The Darkness Out There’ being 20th century. Thomas Hardy writes ‘The Withered Arm’ as a 3rd person narrative whereas Penelope Lively uses a mixture between 3rd and 1st person.

‘The Darkness Out There’ combines the author’s narration with the thoughts and feelings of Sandra, a girl belonging to the Good Neighbors club. She goes to help out an old lady, Mrs. Rutter, with the help of a boy called Kerry.
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She mentions nothing about the man himself but just remarks how “it wasn’t a pretty site”. She is unmoved when the German was crying “mutter, mutter”. This shows she is a cold, heartless woman. She recollects easily how she left the man in pain because it was raining. This shows she has no feeling of mutual human kindness and doesn’t feel obliged to help. Again, she is not bothered with the fact he is in his late teens.

Mrs. Rutter is bitter and resentful because of the death of her husband. She delights in the German's death, “I thought, oh no, you had this coming to you, mate, there’s a war on.” She seems surprised when Kerry and Sandra suddenly get up to leave, disgusted with her tale. She has no remorse and doesn’t realize there was anything wrong with what she did, her conscience still not activated all these years later.

Rite from the beginning there had been implicit clues to her nasty inner character, not just from the story she told which revealed it explicitly towards the end. Penelope Lively through other means, like metaphors reveals the character. Like her body, her personality is not clear-cut. The author suggests this when she explains “she seemed composed of circles”. Introduced as “a cottage loaf of a woman”, gives the misleading impression of a warm, traditional, safe, chunky, old woman. But following this, is another metaphor, “with a face below which chins collapsed one into