The Babysitter Characters
by Robert Coover

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The Babysitter Characters

The Babysitter

It is unclear if the titular "babysitter" refers to the living female babysitter hired by the Tuckers or if it refers to the television set that seems to occupy a prime position in everyone's lives and fantasies. The young babysitter herself is not named, but she figures front and center in the sexually-charged and violent fantasies of Mr. Tucker; her boyfriend, Jack; and his friend, Mark—and even in the less frightening, though still telling, fantasies of Jimmy, the young boy she babysits.

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The television also features largely in these fantasies, and it plays programs about gunfighters in the Wild West, young and nubile women who have been assaulted and murdered, and married men who have fallen out of love with their middle-aged wives and want to cheat on those wives with younger, lovelier women.

Mr. Tucker

The father of the children watched by the babysitter, Mr. Tucker thinks his middle-aged wife has grown fat and unappealing, and he fantasizes instead about the babysitter. He is balding and pudgy himself, but he manages to convince himself that she might feel something for him too, though she clearly does not. He fantasizes repeatedly about assaulting the babysitter. His mind has been warped by popular narratives about women and their objectification, possibly from the television that seems to be so prominent in his house.

Jack

Jack is the babysitter's boyfriend, and he also fantasizes about raping her. He imagines doing so with his friend, Mark, but he also imagines saving her from being assaulted by Mark. He seems to genuinely care for her, which makes the fact that he considers raping her all the more surprising. It provides further evidence of how negatively we are affected by the violent narratives we see on television—and by the behavior we all too often permit by men and boys—and shows how sex and violence can become intricately linked, even when there is genuine affection present.

Jimmy

The oldest Tucker child, he too fantasizes about the babysitter, showing just how young children are when they begin to imbibe sexualized narratives about women. He has a younger sister named Bitsy and another sibling, the unnamed baby.