Frannie, the protagonist and narrator of Feathers, is a thoughtful, perceptive sixth-grader. She views herself as more of a listener than a talker, and her keen powers of observation give her unusual insight into her classmates. For example, she sees the humanity and vulnerability inside the class bully Trevor, describing the “regular boy...inside of the Evil Trevor.” She also pays particular attention to Jesus Boy, noting the way he quietly watches and absorbs all that goes on around him. In fact, Frannie feels a kind of kinship with Jesus Boy that underlies her interest in him.
At home, Frannie is equally perceptive and caring: she worries about her mother’s depression and the prejudice her brother faces because he is deaf and only speaks sign language. Furthermore, Frannie feels a responsibility to take care of everyone around her. At one point, she wishes she could lift the exhaustion and sadness right off her mother, and she thinks that if she had the power of the Biblical Jesus, the ability to walk through the world and take people’s pain away, she’d “never stop walking.”
Overall, Frannie’s compassion and care for others dominates her character and actions throughout the novel, as she helps Trevor after his fight, soothes Samantha when she is disappointed, and reaches out to Jesus Boy in friendship. The novel ends with Frannie sharing a loving moment with her mother and unborn sibling; in the end, these moments of love give Frannie the hope she is searching for and the ability to keep on going—and hoping.
Jesus Boy is a white boy who was adopted by African-American parents at the age of three. He spent most of his life living in the white side of town, where he and his parents faced prejudice such as police officers assuming the black father was attacking the white child. When the novel begins, Jesus Boy has just moved to the African-American side of town and joined Frannie’s sixth-grade class, where he hopes he will be able to make more friends. We never learn his real name—“Jesus Boy” is a nickname given to him by the other sixth-graders because of his physical resemblance to Jesus, and the boy chooses to adopt the nickname for his own. At first, Jesus Boy’s behavior seems to mirror the Biblical Jesus’ as well: he remains kind and refuses to fight back no matter how much the other students antagonize him. He even calls his chief tormentor, Trevor, his “brother.” However, Jesus Boy eventually...
(The entire section is 1033 words.)