Although Bobo and what befalls him constitute the “moral center” of the novel, he is not its main character. Bobo only utters a few phrases in the second chapter, and afterward, he is silent. The author depicts the character Bobo, while he is alive, almost exactly as the real-life Emmett “Bobo” Till: a fourteen-year-old boy from Chicago who is down in Mississippi visiting his great aunt and uncle. Before his death, Bobo is dressed in a white shirt and tie and a “wide-brimmed hat,” the same clothes that Till wore in a famous 1954 photo. Bobo is funny and outgoing—when he jokes around outside of Red’s Goodlookin Bar and Gro., he has all the other kids’ attention. He shows them “a picture of his Chicago girlfriend,” which is really a photo of the white actress Hedy Lamarr. Solon uses this information to manipulate Dexter, leading Dexter to believe that Bobo was carrying a picture of Sally Anne. Just before he is killed, readers have no idea what thoughts are running through Bobo’s head. Till’s murderers also beat him, gouged his eye out, and shot him in the head before tying him to a gin fan with barbed wire and dumping him into a river. Nordan explains why invention was “so skimpy” in terms of Bobo’s character in the essay “Growing Up White in the South.” He says Bobo is “firm ground on which a reader may stand....around which all the rest of the world may go mad.”
In fact, the point of view of Bobo’s “immortal eye” is more developed than the living Bobo’s point of view is. The omniscient eye sees what Bobo could not see in life. It holds Solon accountable for his actions, to the point that the murderer becomes disturbed by the sight of the detached eye staring at him. It sees the Quito community where the gin fan came from, a mermaid, Solon’s dying son, Alice Conroy, and a crystal ball “light up with blue light and an image of things to come.” The eye is much like the omniscient, all-knowing narrator of the entire novel, which emphasizes Bobo’s power.
Alice Conroy is the protagonist, and she leads readers through the beginning, middle, and end of the novel. On the first page, readers learn of Alice’s unrequited love for Dr. Dust, which is nearly crippling for her. Most nights, Alice says “I love you” into a pillow until she falls asleep. Alice does not share these feelings with anyone in Arrow Catcher, and her...
(The entire section is 977 words.)