Provide an analysis of the characters in "The Taste Of Watermelon" by Borden Deal.

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"The Taste of Watermelon" is many things: a coming-of-age tale, a rumination on guilt, and, ultimately, a story about redemption and hope.

The story is told from the point of view of Sam, a 16-year-old boy who is new to the neighborhood and desperately trying to fit in with what...

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"The Taste of Watermelon" is many things: a coming-of-age tale, a rumination on guilt, and, ultimately, a story about redemption and hope.

The story is told from the point of view of Sam, a 16-year-old boy who is new to the neighborhood and desperately trying to fit in with what he perceives as the cool kids. Sam's friends gossip about one of their neighbors, Mr. Wills, who they paint as an angry, scary guy with a gun. To establish his "credentials" to hang out with the boys, Sam steals the prized watermelon that Mr. Wills is growing.

Mr. Wills, though apparently sort of a tough guy, is in actuality growing the melon for his wife, a woman with serious physical (and perhaps mental) health issues. His hope is that when the melon is ripe, Mrs. Wills will invite the neighbors over to share it, which he believes will alleviate some of her feelings of isolation and despair. When he discovers that it is gone, he breaks down crying because he had so hoped he could help his wife.

Sam witnesses Mr. Wills' devastation and immediately feels guilty. He and his friends have essentially wasted the watermelon. It meant nothing to them and everything to Mr. Wills. Sam achieves a sort of redemption by returning the seeds to Mr. Wills and promising to help plant them in the spring.

Sam emerges as a character, misguided at first, who values honesty and who must conquer his fear of Mr. Wills to do the right thing. He fully expects to be harmed when he returns the seeds, but he does it anyway, because being a decent man means more to him than the approval of his new friends.

Mr. Wills is complicated—maybe a bit of a curmudgeon, but his true character shines through as well. He loves and values his wife and feels helpless in the face of her illness. He wants more than anything to help her engage with life, and Sam's theft of the melon plunges him into despair. In the end, though, he proves, by accepting Sam's offer of help, that he too believes in redemption. It also seems that by owning up to the theft, Sam gives him some hope that maybe things can improve, both with his wife and in terms of his view on humanity.

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