The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Characters in The Battle of Jericho run the gamut from kind and well-intentioned to deliberately cruel and dangerous. The challenge for the central character, Jericho, is to determine the boundary between those two extremes. Jericho and his peers believe the Warriors of Distinction is a club that focuses on service projects and brotherhood. As they begin the pledge process, however, the seemingly good-natured fun of pledge week quickly enters a morally gray area. Jericho, Josh, Kofi, and Dana must ask themselves how badly they want to be part of the group—and whether the cost of membership is worth paying.

Readers experience Jericho’s struggle with these questions. As the severity of the pledge week exercises increases, Jericho’s anxiety increases, but he silently goes along with everything he is asked to do. Through Jericho, the story explores the difficulty of trusting one’s personal judgment in the face of perceived power. The Warriors are merely other schoolkids, yet Jericho cannot bring himself to challenge them. He feels nervous, ashamed, and guilty over not stopping Eddie’s abuse of Dana, not standing up for himself when he is being degraded, wanting to join a group that would not consider including his disabled friend, and so on. His struggles with these feelings, however, do not prevent him from following the Warriors’ instructions. He fears losing his girlfriend and becoming an outcast if he walks away from the Warriors....

(The entire section is 466 words.)