To Kill a Mockingbird
Scout is an extrovert. She’s the spokesperson for her first grade class. She jumps into the tire before Dill or Jem. She fights Walter Cunningham and her cousin Francis. She’s about taking action. She talks a lot. Yes, she thinks about things, but not like Jem.
Jem is older and more pensive than Scout. He plans how to draw out Boo. Yes, he likes football, but I’m guessing he plays because of the strategy of the game instead of the physical action. If my students push me for textual evidence, I would refer to when Jem runs up to touch the Radley’s door. After Dill dares him, he doesn’t just run up and do it. He thinks about it for days. Finally, Dill’s and Scout’s taunts that Jem’s chicken force him into action.
Dill: He’s a quandary. He’s a thinker and a doer, but more as an instigator. I’d venture to guess he’s an ambivert.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
Let’s start with Romeo, a poet, an artist, a boy in love. He’s in love with the idea of being in love. Although he acts impulsively in falling in love, getting married, and slaying Tybalt, he’s not your action-packed hero. He’d be happy lying in a meadow pondering the stars rather than attending a party or taking part in a duel. I say Romeo leans to the introvert side of the spectrum.
His nemesis and his wife’s cousin, on the other hand, probably has never thought anything through. Tybalt is ready to strike Romeo at Capulet’s party at the end of Act 1. Good thing he didn’t since that would make for a very short play. There’s no denying Tybalt is an extrovert.
Things Fall Apart
He may be a tragic hero, but Okonkwo won’t take life sitting down. His tragic flaw may be that he’s too extroverted. He over reacts. He over compensates. He refuses to be seen as weak or timid or quiet, and so action is his middle name.
Part of his tragic story is that Okonkwo is the way he is because his father is an introvert, a dreamer and a musician. Unoka prefers to watch kites fly and clouds float over head instead of tending to his yam farm. Don’t mistake Unoka’s introversion for his laziness. Introverts are not lazy by nature, although because they spend so much time thinking, it can appear that way. However, Unoka is a loafer as well as an introvert, but there is no correlation between the two.
Alice in Wonderland
On an impulse, Alice follows the rabbit down the hole. She drinks and eats without worrying about the consequences. However, she observes, reflects, and comments on the strange characters and events that appear around her. Alice seems to be a solid example of an ambivert.
Literature Reflecting the Human Condition
Teachers know good literature stands the test of time because it reflects the human condition. Characters and situations are relevant to life off the pages because we see a bit of ourselves, or our parents, or siblings, or friends in them. Characters and places, even far-off magical lands, resemble our external and internal environments. Identifying characters along the introvert-extrovert spectrum isn’t difficult, but is definitely a complementary activity to more rigorous social-emotional lessons.
I'm a Chicago-born baby raised in Connecticut with a two-year diversion in Beirut, Lebanon. As an adult, I'm a nomad having lived in New York; Connecticut; London, England; (back to) Connecticut; Ohio; and now Florida. I have traveled by foot, by bike, by air, by car, by motorcycle, by boat, and by train. I remain constantly curious about the world.