Characters Discussed

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 554

Don Dubrow

Illustration of PDF document

Download American Buffalo Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Don Dubrow, a man in his late forties, the owner of the junk shop called Don’s Resale Shop. He unknowingly sells a rare American buffalo nickel for what he assumes must have been too little. He believes that by tricking him, the buyer achieved an unwarranted dominance over him. Don intends to get even by planning a robbery, one in which he will not participate but that will involve the nickel being restolen. This dream-fantasy of the robbery restores to Don the sense of power that he lost with the nickel’s sale. When the play opens, Don is berating the dependent Bob for leaving the house he had been sent to stake out. He emphasizes his dominance by making Bob apologize for that action. Don’s need for family is expressed by his fatherly friendship and concern for slow-witted Bob, whom he tries to teach the difference between friendship and business but whom he betrays out of mistrust of his own convictions and the strength of Teach’s arguments. He holds the offstage character Fletch up to Bob as an example of a guy who can think on his feet, but he becomes totally demoralized when he learns through Teach that Fletch cheated him, a friend as well as a business associate. Don turns violent when frustrated. His whole life seems to exist only within his resale shop.

Walter Cole

Walter Cole, called Teach, an overreactive friend and associate of Don who is unsure of his actions, although he puts up a good front by using bold language infused with positivism. His unsureness is echoed in his innate suspicion of others, and he believes that everyone is motivated by self-interest. Business in his world is necessary, and the means used in its execution are self-justifying. Deceit, physical violence, and assault are merely business tactics, and friendship is nothing more than a means of gain. Teach lacks the courage of his convictions, however, and there is a great gulf between his words and his deeds. His suspicions allow him to terrorize Bob physically, and even though these thoughts turn out to be erroneous, he is never anxious or questioning of his actions. Teach utilizes moral principles that justify his cynical outlook. His great robbery never takes place; Teach is a bungler as well as a misogynist. Offstage female characters illustrate his lack of control in his world.

Bob

Bob, a slow-witted junkie who works as a gofer for Don. He emphasizes the superiority Don feels. Bob is cheated out of participation in an abortive robbery but ironically may have done the cheating. Bob is dependent on Don for the cash to feed his drug habit. Participation in the robbery will temporarily bring him the cash he needs and perhaps inspire praise from Don. Because of his habit, however, Bob must also be committing small types of crimes, and it could be that he committed the crime that Teach accuses him of—getting the buffalo nickel from the customer in some foul way. Don’s calls to the hospitals in the area prove that Don does not trust Bob. Throughout the play, Bob, in repeating much of what Don tells him, uses a type of low-language slang that indicates his low intelligence and his inability to progress outside Don’s Resale Shop.

Teach

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 256

As his nickname suggests, Teach is a man who sees himself as a guru-like figure, dispensing parcels of wisdom to Don and Bob. He constantly offers platitudes which seek to instruct the others in the ways that "business" is conducted: "A guy can be too loyal," "Don't confuse business with pleasure," "It's kickass or kissass," and "You got to have a feeling for your subject" are a few of the many "rules" he recites during the play. Teach subscribes to the notion that free enterprise is "The freedom of the Individual to Embark on...

(The entire section contains 1088 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this American Buffalo study guide. You'll get access to all of the American Buffalo content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Critical Essays
  • Analysis
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Previous

Themes

Next

Critical Essays

Explore Study Guides