A variable is considered 'local' when it is declared within the body of a method. A member (or instance) variable is "in scope" for the entire duration of the object instance. Whereas a local variable will be in scope only from the point of declaration to the end of the block within which it is declared. Be sure to ask for clarification if that doesn't clear things up for you. hth, bear
A member variable, aka instance variable, aka field is part of the object that is created on the heap. There is a place inside that object to track the current value of the reference that the variable holds. It stays there until the object itself is no longer referenced by anything, at which time it is rounded up by the gc. A local variable, aka automatic variable is not part of the object. It is a variable that is created automatically when a method or block of code is executed that declares the variable, and lives on the stack that is associated with the method. When the method is over, the stack for that method is rudely cast aside and thus the local variable is destroyed. You might enjoy reading Not all Variables are created Equal.
"JavaRanch, where the deer and the Certified play" - David O'Meara