(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Uncle Remus

Uncle Remus, the principal raconteur in the Uncle Remus books. This old black man tells all but eighteen of the antelbellum folktales. In “Songs,” in which he is introduced, he is nearly eighty years old, telling a story to a seven-year-old white boy called Pinx by his mother, Miss Sally. Miss Sally and her husband, Mars John, own the plantation in central Georgia on which Uncle Remus works, living by himself in a cabin only a few yards from the “big house.” The black people on the plantation consider him their leader, and its owners think of him as a “family confidant.” A gentle and dignified man, he does not put up with much nonsense, even from Miss Sally and her family, for whom he feels great affection. A master storyteller, his principal themes are the dangers of acting “biggity,” too full of oneself, and the state into which the world has fallen because of people acting as if they know no more of morals than do animals. At times dictatorial, jealous, and even petty, he never remains thus for long, being at heart and most often a strong, generous man who is humble in the best sense of the word but never subservient. His greatest challenge comes in his waning years, in the form of Pinx’s son, an overly proper and adult little boy whose long-dormant childhood Uncle Remus, at Miss Sally’s unspoken request, undertakes to awaken, primarily by telling him folktales.

Brer Rabbit

Brer Rabbit, the clever protagonist of two-thirds of the tales and a supporting character in most of the rest. He is probably the best-known trickster in American literature and also the most loved, despite the fact that during the course of the tales in which he appears he lies to, steals from, injures, mutilates, betrays, murders, and humiliates virtually every other animal and human being in the “settlement,” except members of his own family, Brer Terrapin, and Miss...

(The entire section is 798 words.)