Smokey, named for the unusual color of his eyes, is one of Rusty-James's friends and a member of the group, but he is nervous about gang violence. When Rusty-James says of the "old days" when he was eleven, "A gang really meant some-thin' back then," Smokey says, "Meant gettin' sent to the hospital once a week." Smokey is not a loyal friend; he sets things up to make it look like Rusty-James is cheating on his girlfriend Patty so she'll dump Rusty-James and Smokey can go out with her. He also tells Rusty-James that if the gangs were still around, he would be president, not Rusty-James.
B. J. is a friend of Rusty-James's, one of the group. He is fat but tough. As Rusty-James says, "Tough fat guys ain't as rare as you think."
Cassandra was a student teacher at the high school the year before, and the Motorcycle Boy was in one of her classes. She fell in love with him, and although she has a college education and comes from a good family, she moved into an apartment in Rusty-James's part of town and now follows the Motorcycle Boy around. She doesn't wear makeup, often goes barefoot, and has a lot of cats. Rusty-James views her as phony because she tries to talk like the Motorcycle Boy, saying "meaningful" things. She is a drug addict, whose habit the Motorcycle Boy detests.
Mr. Harrigan is the guidance...
(The entire section is 1442 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Rumble Fish Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Themes and Characters
Rumble Fish records the experiences, friendships, and conflicts of a group of Oklahoma teen-agers. Hinton's most ambitious work, it focuses on the character of Rusty-James, through whom the reader confronts a disillusioning vision of life as an empty, pointless experience wholly controlled by destiny.
Hinton traces the evolution of Rusty-James's personality by comparing him to the book's two other central characters: his brother, the Motorcycle Boy, whom he emulates, and Steve, an emotional, shy, and awkward teen-ager whom he nevertheless considers his best friend. As Rusty-James steps further away from his troubled but self-regulated life, he achieves a greater understanding of his world, and the full meaning of Hinton's dark image of adolescent despair emerges.
Rusty-James assumes a tough exterior to mask his vulnerability and loneliness. He admits that he is afraid to be alone, obsessed with appearance, and dependent on the company of others. Rejected by the school authorities and his girlfriend, he gradually "burns out" and succumbs to the disturbing family traditions that have helped shape his negative outlook on life. Unable to identify with the gang that once boosted his sense of self-importance, he gravitates toward the "cool" but self-destructive model of the Motorcycle Boy.
Rusty-James's mother abandoned the family when he was two years old, leaving his father to sink into alcoholism and the Motorcycle Boy to grow...
(The entire section is 773 words.)