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How to Write a Character Analysis Book Report


Strong characters are often the glue that holds a story together. Both protagonists and antagonists help readers engage in plot lines, giving them a reason to respect heroes and detest villains. Sometimes characters in books are real-life people who've faced struggles and have overcome obstacles. When writing a character analysis book report, look beyond the obvious and study underlying traits that affected a character's decisions, relationships and worldview. It's important to choose an influential character, even though it doesn't have to be a main character, so you'll have solid evidence to back your report.

Introductory Sentence

Start your book report with a sentence that states the author and title of the book and that introduces the character you chose for your analysis. Capture your audience by saying something interesting or out of the ordinary about your character. Your introductory sentence might say something such as, "In the novel 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck, Slim is the rational voice of conscience in a world where injustice usually prevails." A shocking or mysterious introductory sentence gets a reader's attention and makes her want to read more. It will also show your teacher that you're digging deep to develop your character analysis.

Summary

Summarize the plot as it relates to your character. Avoid discussing irrelevant subplots or background information if the content doesn't directly affect your character's personality, decisions or reactions. What happens to your character during the course of the book? Does she mature in her relationships? How does she evolve? Is there a specific scene or a climax that deeply affects her? A character analysis is different from a regular book report because the story line is only useful as long as it reflects your character's choices or personal development. Sometimes a character, especially an antagonist, gets more unlikable during the course of the story, so her decisions and reflections might be negative. Your character analysis doesn't have to paint a rosy picture of your character -- an honest evaluation is best.

Character Development

The bulk of your book report will be about character development. According to the website Teacher Vision, analyze your character's physical appearance so the reader gets a strong visual image. Discuss positive and negative character traits, and explore the character's weaknesses. Always use specific examples, quotations or dialogues from the book to support your analysis and explain why those examples are significant. Ask yourself if there's a hidden message or a deeper meaning behind your character's actions. Did a past experience influence him? Were his reactions a result of other people's choices or opinions? Your book report should leave the reader with a solid understanding of your character.

Personal Reaction

Give your personal reaction as the final paragraph of your report. According to Purdue University's writing website, you should include personal comments about how well you liked the book, how it compares to other books in the same genre, whether you thought the author's portrayal of the character was effective and if it appealed to you on an emotional or a rational level. State whether you'd recommend the book and why you did or didn't give it a favorable review. Since it's a character analysis, be sure to tie your comments to the content you provided about your character. You might say, "I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy characters who learn from hard experiences." Or, "I would recommend this book to readers who like strong female protagonists." If you didn't like the book or felt like the author wasn't consistent with his characters, express those views and back them up with solid reasons.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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