“Dark Matter” Write Up by Angelica Atkins

dark matter

In the story “Dark Matter” by B. J Novak, I highlighted imagery and characterization. The story is driven by the character and the choices he makes, and while the author doesn’t use that many images, the ones that he does use are interesting in their context. Everything that does happen happens in first person, so the images he does note are the ones that are important to him.

I’m sure you all read it, as it is only four pages and highly entertaining. The plot is entirely driven by the main character (he doesn’t get a name), which I thought was interesting because I usually have outside of the narrator drive the plot. The first thing I thought of while reading this was that the character is my soul animal, as he has a sarcastic outlook on life and sees right through people.

This brings me to characterization. The first thing I got was that the narrator was condescending to the other people on the tour of the planetarium, and that he could see right through the scientist leading the tour. He can tell the scientist knows more because of the “smirky little smile on his fat smug face” which is an image as well. It’s not a great image, but I could picture it. He wants to know more, so gets the scientist alone and forces him to spill. He (the narrator) is very driven, and when he wants something, he gets it. He’s very driven throughout the four pages that I got to know him, and as I said before, he completely drives the plot.

Now onto images—the few that I got described the scientist, his office, and the stairs. The images play in with the way the story was told, as I cannot imagine this character going into a long-winded description comparing something to the sea and so on. The way he tells it, if he went metaphorical it would stick out like a splinter. The images that he does give describe the fat, smug scientist, the stairs, and the doorknob. It feels like it was spoken aloud at a party for laughs and someone wrote it down. I liked that he noticed the doorknob, which I have repeated three times now, it must be important, but the fact is that it isn’t, which makes me love the story even more. It’s the only good color that’s given, which I liked. The other images are the scientist’s smile and his fat hand, which show how self-important the narrator sees him as.

What I really loved about the piece was that it was rather like a fable in that the character chooses friends over the secrets of the universe. The factor that makes this not a children’s story is the language, although I think we can all handle that now. What I want to take away from this piece is the character motivation, that the character has to make a choice and may or may not be happy about it. I also like the continuity—the character is always in character, the situation is not fantastic, and the character stays human. His motivations are always clear, something I need to work on for my characters.


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