The most important character in the short story “Every Good Boy” by David Nicholls is the boy-narrator. Apart from him, the piano teacher, Patricia Chin, and the parents are also relevant for the way they influence the boy’s opinion of himself.

The narrator

The narrator of the short story is also the protagonist. However, you should note the story is told in retrospect, in the past tense. Consequently, it is very likely that the narrator is much older at the time of the narration than he was at the time of the events.


Inner characterisation

The boy’s inner characterisation is constructed by presenting his attitude towards himself and the events, but also through his actions and others’ opinion of him.

The fact that he is able to admit he is mediocre suggests a very self-conscious youngster, but also the fact that he was probably influenced by his parents’ opinion of him: ““But there must be something you can do,” my father would sigh as I fumbled the ball, fell from the tree, bounced clear of the trampoline. “Everybody can do something.”” (ll. 13-14)

As a boy, the narrator also displays enthusiasm and naivety, hoping the piano might be something he may prove good at. However, the way he describes the piano as a “monster” (l. 20)...


Mrs Patricia Chin

Patricia Chin is a secondary character in the short story, but she is very relevant to the plot because it is her death that puts an end to the narrator’s efforts to learn how to play the piano.

Outer characterisation

Her outer characterisation tells us that she is an old music teacher, a widow with limited financial resources:


Inner characterisation

The woman’s inner characterisation is revealed through her interactions with the narrator. As a piano teacher, she came across as polite, strict, yet sometimes bored and disinterested:


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