Study Guide

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

by Gary Schmidt

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy Characters

Characters

Turner Buckminster III

Thirteen-year-old Turner Buckminster undergoes major changes as the plot of Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy develops. When he first arrives with his family in Phippsburg, he is an unhappy boy, uprooted from familiar environs and imprisoned by the expectations of others. As a minister’s son, Turner is required to maintain a level of decorum that forces him to deny his youthful, exuberant nature; the restrictions placed upon his life are symbolized by the starched white shirt he must wear and keep unsoiled at all times. Turner tries to be what everyone wants him to be at first, but the boundaries placed upon him are unreasonable. He quickly learns that, under the judgmental eye of the dour citizenry, he is

not [his] own... but belong[s] body and soul to every parishioner in Phippsburg who might have a word to say about [him] to [his] father.

Within himself, he harbors a tremendous longing for freedom and is frequently seized with the desire to escape the stifling confines of civilization.

Turner is an introspective boy with an intelligent, probing mind. As events unfold, revealing the hypocrisy of the city leaders who seem to control his father, he begins to question the established order, comparing the atrocities that he sees perpetrated by the self-righteous adults around him with his own inner sense of decency and morality. When Turner meets Lizzie Bright, he recognizes in her the goodness and freedom of spirit he longs for but cannot seem to achieve; through their friendship, he embarks on an inner journey of questioning and growth.

It is a scary moment when Turner realizes that he does not have to be “a minister’s son all the time” and that he has the power to determine his own destiny. By daring to think for himself, he is led to defy his neighbors in their quest to rid themselves of the Negro population of Malaga. Turner finds himself in a lonely place,

somewhere between two worlds and drowning because he [can’t] find his way in either one.

By the end of the story, Turner has grown in maturity and strength to the point to where he can carry on the duties of “the man of the house,” both literally and metaphorically. Turner has become a young man of integrity who understands the preciousness of nature, truth, and...

(The entire section is 991 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear