Who is Rusty-James in Rumble Fish?

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Rusty-James is the novel's protagonist, and he is fourteen years old during the main events of the novel. Because of his gang relations and violence-filled life, he acts like someone much older than he really is. Rusty-James is also forced to act tougher than any young teenager should have to act. He admits that he has a temper and also admits that he doesn't believe he is that intelligent. As a consequence of both of those things, Rusty-James gets into fights on a weekly basis. That's a bit amazing in my mind. It's shocking that anybody would want to fight him because Rusty-James hasn't lost a fight in two years. As a character that's involved with gangs and violence, Rusty-James's habits and vocabulary reflect that world. He steals, smokes, drinks alcohol, and swears a lot. His older brother is Motorcycle Boy, and Rusty-James thinks that Motorcycle Boy is "the coolest person in the whole world."

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Rusty-James is the younger brother of Motorcycle Boy in S. E. Hinton’s acclaimed, violent, and action-packed coming of age novel Rumble Fish. He’s the main character of the novel, who, at 14, has already started to drink, play pool, smoke, and is the leader of a small, dying gang.

The story revolves around Rusty-James’ struggle to live up to Motorcycle Boy’s reputation, and his longing for the glory days, when gang warfare was more active than it is in the industrial town in which the story takes place.

Virtually an orphan, with his mother gone, a father who drinks, an education that is meaningless for him and relationships that lack substance, he allows himself to be drawn into one last gang fight in which his older brother is killed and he is sent to a reformatory.

The title comes from a scene towards the end of the book where Motorcycle Boy is in a pet store staring at some Siamese Fighting Fish which he calls Rumble Fish.

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