Jeff Greene is the protagonist in A Solitary Blue; the reader sees everything that happens through his eyes. The novel begins when seven-year-old Jeff comes home from school and finds a note from his mother that says she has gone away and will not be coming back. In the letter she intimates that Jeff should try to do things for himself and not bother his father. This insures that Jeff will be afraid to grieve publicly and ask for help.
Jeff is a frightened, sensitive, and insecure boy; he feels as if his father might leave at any moment if he becomes a hindrance. Later, as Jeff matures, he takes chances: he tells his mother he does not like her lying, and becomes more open with his father. His sensitivity will always leave him vulnerable to pain, but his love of nature and music will help him through such suffering. By the end of the book, his hard-won emotional maturity shows that he is a strong and brave young man willing to take the risk of loving and trusting again.
The Professor, Jeff's father, has been terribly hurt by his marriage to Melody; although he is extremely intelligent, he has a difficult time communicating with others. He is withdrawn and gives the appearance of not caring. Jeff bases his image of the Professor in part upon what Melody has told him and in part upon the Professor's own withdrawal from life. The Professor also grows as a person when he and Jeff are able to communicate with each other. Like Jeff, the Professor has been living behind a wall for protection.
Melody, Jeff's mother, may be the most simple character in the book: she is a type, like Mrs. Jellaby in Charles Dickens's Bleak House. She is full of concern for strangers, but oddly indifferent to the suffering of her own husband and son. She has gone off to try to save the world. She gives the appearance of being a loving person; unlike the Professor she is very demonstrative. When Jeff goes to visit her, she hugs and kisses him frequently. Starved for affection, Jeff assumes this is love. Even...
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