Marian’s characterization in “The Test” by Angelica Gibbs is conveyed through the narrator’s words and dialogue.

Outer characterization

The outer characterization of Marian, the protagonist of “The Test”, is brief and tells us that she is a 27-year-old African-American woman: “ ‘They probably do like it better if a white person shows up with you.’ ” ; “Mrs. Ericson watched her dark, competent hands”.

Marian was born in Pennsylvania where she had a driver’s license for three years , and she has a “soft unaccented voice”. Her lack of an accent is the first clue that she is not from the Southern states of the US.

Other references to Marian’s physical appearance show her “set profile” and later, her set face. This suggests that Marian is a determined woman. However, the story suggests that she is anxious about her driving test, so her set face might also mean that she is trying to keep herself calm.

At the end of the story, after the driving inspector flunks Marian, the narrator describes her physical appearance to convey the fact that she is frustrated and disappointed: “Marian stared down at the wheel and her lip trembled.”

Marian is college educated  and has a job as a housekeeper and nanny in Mrs. Ericson’s home. 

Inner characterization

Marian’s inner characterization is constructed through the narrator’s remarks, through Marian’s language, attitude, and actions.

At the beginning of the story, Marian says to Mrs. Ericson, her employer, who accompanies her to the driving test: “ ‘They probably do like it better if a white person shows up with you.’ ”. This implies that Marian has experienced racial discrimination. Moreover, ...

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