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Thread: Normative Characters?

  1. #1
    I eat words. Moshu's Avatar
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    Normative Characters?

    Um, for my lit class, I came across the term "normative character," (I know what character means...) and didn't know what that was, and I was wondering if anyone knows what it means, and if you could give me any examples? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    Man, I have no idea what "normative" characters -- I just want to play around with the "norm" root of the word and guess that its just a fancy way of saying "normal" characters or standardized characters (i.e. the wise old man, the damsel in distress. . .). But I'm just guessin' here.
    “Oh crap”
    -- Hellboy

  3. #3
    Jethro BienvenuJDC's Avatar
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    French normatif, from norme norm, from Latin norma


    1 : of, relating to, or determining norms or standards <normative tests>
    2 : conforming to or based on norms <normative behavior> <normative judgments>
    3 : prescribing norms <normative rules of ethics> <normative grammar>

    taken from

    Good job on the guess Comedian!!
    Les Miserables,
    Volume 1, Fifth Book, Chapter 3
    Remember this, my friends: there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. There are only bad cultivators.

  4. #4
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    If I remember correctly, the normative character is the character who expresses the voice of the author/narrator, or one who the author identifies with (i.e. "raisonneur"). This device is also used in film.

    The normative character is not usually the main character or a main protagonist, but can be.

    Stephen King uses a normative character in some of his films (if he doesn't outright play it himself). Some other people I've spoken to have used the Pizza Delivery Guy in his miniseries "Rose Red" as an example of the normative character (especially if the normative character isn't particularly important to the plot).
    Last edited by TheMadChild; 02-28-2011 at 02:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    A weak example of this kind of character in film may be the guy with the cowboy hat who appears at the end of The Big Lebowski. He tries to explain the significance of a character like Dude, the main actor in the movie.

  6. #6
    Monkey King
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    Hope this helps you

    Normative characters, as the term implies, work as stand-ins for the reader. Other characters in a story may conceal their motives or behave deceptively, but a normative character offers the reader opportunity to identify with someone who steers a clear course through the events of the plot. When normative characters narrate the story, they seem to possess clarity of vision and hold values sufficiently like the reader’s to make them dependable reporters. When they are actors within a story recounted in third-person narration, normative characters display traits meant to resemble similar ones readers find in themselves. (Reilly 122-123)

    Taken from:
    Larry Mcmurtry: A Critical Companion
    Greenwood Press, 2000
    Human Peculiar: The Essential Need for Literature -

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