The most important characters in the short story “The Familiar” by Andre Norton are Fossi and Jeseca…



Fossi is the narrator of the short story, a magical being from another realm who, in the realm of humans, takes the appearance of a stuffed toy, and then that of a living cat. 

Outer characterization

As a result of his alternative form, Fossi’s outer characterization focuses on its cat-like appearance: “Carefully, I loosed my hold on the appearance of a body filled with straw and covered by short reddish fur, through which patches of skin showed where time (and love) had worn it away.” (p. 58, ll. 21-23); “… my red-brown fur, living now, was not even dusty. (…) rounded head, large eyes as green as my companion’s could be, long hard-muscled body, and two pairs of limbs…” (p. 59, ll. 22-25)

Other important elements of Fossi’s outer characterization are that it is very old (it has been in Jeseca’s family for generations) and has mind-influencing abilities.

Inner characterization

Fossi’s inner characterization is conveyed through the way it narrates the events, its actions, and its attitude.

In the beginning of the story, Fossi desc…



Jeseca is the second main character in the short story. She is a developing character (she changes as a result of the action) and is portrayed using Fossi’s perspective.

Outer characterization

According to Jeseca’s outer characterization, she is the young daughter of a merchant and comes from a long line of Wyse women (women with magical powers). Jeseca's mother is probably dead by the time of the events. Jeseca’s father dies during the invasion.

The story offers a brief physical portrait of Jeseca which indicates that she is beautiful: “Young and beautiful by the reckoning of her kind, the girl would be welcome prey for any invader who sighted her.” (p. 56, ll. 7-8). Jeseca is young and has a stuffed toy, but she is approaching adulthood. She is forced to grow up by the events of the story, making “The Familiar” a coming-of-age narrative.

Inner characterization

Jeseca’s inner characterization is conveyed through her actions, feelings, and thoughts, presented through Fossi’s perspective.

In the first part of the story, the girl is frightened by the invas…

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