The most important characters in the short story “Kiss and Tell” by John Sam Jones are Dylan Roberts and Seimon Gwyn. The other characters mentioned in the text—Seimon’s classmates and the other teachers—are secondary and their function is to illustrate aspects of the social setting.
Seimon is one of the main characters in the short story. His characterisation is mostly conveyed indirectly, by following his point of view, his actions, and his attitude.
Seimon’s outer characterisation presents him as a fourteen-year-old boy (l.9) who is underdeveloped, compared to his peers: “Most of his classmates had started to muscle-up, which made rugby more of a man’s game; it made the showers afterwards a real embarrassment too. Naked and puny amongst so many well-developed boy-men…” (ll. 9-11)
Seimon’s inner characterisation presents him as a boy who is beginning to discover his sexuality, who tries to fit in but fails because he is attracted to men.
Initially, Seimon is frustrated that he has not begun to develop, like his classmates. For this reason, he feels lonely and isolated:
Sometimes he imagined himself smaller-than-small so that the others wouldn’t notice him – and sometimes they didn’t. But then, when the boys he hung around with seemed not to want to see him, he wondered if he’d made himself too insignificant. Being lonely was horrible. Feeling isolated, he doubted himself even more. (ll. 13-16)
Seimon finds girls his age “scary” (l.1) and begins to experience an attraction towards his male teacher, Dylan Roberts: “Seimon found him fascinating to watch; those hands, with long delicate fingers, always expressive, and that face so animated with passion for his subject and the love of teaching.” (ll. 19-21)
Dylan Roberts is the second important character in the short story. As with Seimon, the author builds his characterisation by following the man’s perspective, his actions, and his attitude.
Dylan’s outer characterisation reveals that he is a “handsome and sexy” (l. 56) teacher of languages: “Welsh, French and German” (l. 117). He moves from Cardiff, the capital of Wales, to a small town for his job, and he is gay.
In terms of inner characterisation, Seimon views him as a passionate teacher, “animated with passion for his subject and the love of teaching” (l. 21).
When Dylan moves to the small town, he decides to hide the fact that he is gay, although in the capital he had been proud and open about his sexual orientation: “He pulled over before reaching the school to peel it off; he couldn’t see himself being out-and-proud in North Wales like he’d been in the capital.” (ll. 31-33)