The Characters (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
Hardened to varying degrees, the novel’s characters are young, self-serving, and immature in their thinking. This loss of moral sensitivities appears to be the result of growing up in an indifferent environment with great socioeconomic disadvantages. The judge and attorneys, meanwhile, come across as automata playing roles and similarly immature in their quest for victory in a battle that is indifferent to truth or justice. The jail scenes are dominated by indifferent and callous brutality. Perhaps it is this indifference that makes the events so chillingly hopeless. The narrator’s diary indicates that he does not see himself as an integral part of the events that surround him.