Sister Birdie Lee
Birdie Lee is a “little old lady” who is called to God during one of the Reed Sisters’ street corner services. She had followed God in her younger days, but since then she “backslid, backslid, backslid.” Now she has determined to stay on the path of righteousness. As is typical in this kind of service, Birdie Lee shouts out her story, or “testifies,” right in the middle of Laura’s preaching. She grabs the tambourine, sings a song of praise, and shakes the tambourine “so well that the whole corner started to rock and sway, feet to patting, hands to clapping.” From that moment, she is a member of the church, and from that moment Laura resents her, because Laura perceives Birdie Lee as competition. Birdie Lee is a faithful member of the church, helping with the scrubbing when they move the church into the apartment, and joining in the rejoicing when Crow-for- Day is converted. In the end, her weak bladder proves Laura’s undoing, when a need to rush to the toilet puts Birdie Lee in a position to witness Buddy’s murder. Birdie Lee saves Essie from prison and makes up for all her past sins by promising to testify once more and tell what she saw.
C. J. is a young Christian boy who plays guitar in the band at the Tambourine Temple. He is in his first year at City College, studying chemistry, and is sweet and polite if a little dull. When Marietta comes to Harlem, he is the natural one to...
(The entire section is 1804 words.)
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