Here, we will help you with the characterisation of the narrator and Elsie from “Lightbox” by Emma Cleary. The other characters mentioned in the text are either part of the social setting or are relevant for the way the narrator relates to them (Elsie’s boyfriend, the woman in the elevator).
His outer characterisation reveals that he smokes, works remotely from his laptop, (l. 28) and that he is a bearded man (l. 9). We do not know his name or anything else about his background.
The narrator’s inner characterisation is revealed gradually, through the way he relates to Elsie and his attitude towards her, until at the end when we find out that he is a stalker.
Initially, he suggests that he is in a relationship with Elsie, a woman whom he likes very much: “I love watching her cook, the way she loses herself in the task and in the music. I flick through the stations as she dances, until I find something that matches her movements.” (ll. 39-40)
The woman has changed the narrator’s habits, as he begins to eat organic food and go to yoga for her sake: “Everything in this store is organic. I never shopped here until Elsie. I thought it was for vegan freaks.” (ll. 5-6);
I’m a novice at yoga and sometimes I just give up and lie there in corpse pose with what the instructor calls a ‘soft gaze’. Elsie’s been going to yoga for years. I prefer running but Elsie likes to run alone. (ll. 24-26)
We also find out that the narrator has upset Elsie in the past and feels guilty (l. 8), but we do not know why. Later on, it is revealed that he has been stalking her, and sending her unwanted letters.
The narrator is delusional, as he acts as if he and Elsie were in a relationship when he only spies on her from a distance. He is bothered by the fact that Elsie likes bearded men, and that she gets the attention of men on her social network:
Elsie Palmer is the second important character in the short story.
Elsie’s outer characterisation reveals that she works and studies art, goes to yoga, therapy, and eats organic food: “Yoga three times a week. Grocery shopping every few days after work. Therapy on Tuesday and Thursday. Art class, library, the coffee shop, all the places she’s supposed to go.” (ll. 86-88)
Elsie’s inner characterisation is mostly based on the narrator’s assumptions about her, which are probably not all true. For instance, the narrator claims that Elsie loves cooking and sixties music, but this might be only a projection of his own wishes and tastes, as he can’t hear the music she’s playing: “We both like sixties music. I nod my head along in time. Her legs are bare, lithe; they make pretty shapes as she pads around the kitchen, singing. She eats standing at the counter.” (ll. 41-42)
Facts like Elsie eating organic food, going to yoga, and having her schedule pinned on the fridge suggest that Elsie is an organised person who tries to lead a healthy lifestyle.