The most important characters in the short story “Popular Girls” by Karen Shepard are the five girls that function as a collective narrator. The parents, other students, and the three men are secondary characters that help the author convey more details about the girls and the social setting. The story is structured as a self-portrait of the girls and, as a result, their characterization is key to the plot. In what follows, we will look at the girls as a collective character, but we will also outline some of their individual traits.
The five girls that the story follows are Stephanie, Kaethe and Alina, CJ, and Sydney. Most of their characterization is conveyed collectively (they share common traits), but occasionally the narrator also gives some individual details about them. First, we will look at these individual traits and then we will focus on all five girls as a collective character.
Stephanie is the leader of the group—“Stephanie is at the head” (l. 76)—and the tallest (l. 80) of the girls. She comes from a rich family connected to the royalty of Holland, she studied ballet, and wants to be a fashion designer: “She danced for the New York City Ballet. She was in The Nutcracker when she was eight and nine. She gave up ballet at thirteen. Her mom was pissed. Stephanie says she's going to be a fashion designer.” (ll. 82-85)
Also, she is very concerned with being fashionable and likes to wear expensive jewelry.
Kaethe is said to have had sexual relations with another student: “Kaethe, people say, slept with Treat Williams.” (ll. 50-51). She does not like being the last in the group when they walk together. Her position in the group suggests that Kaethe might not be as r...