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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 234

Russell Baker's touching memoir, Growing Up, mostly centers around the characters of Russell's immediate family. Here is a list of all the important characters in the book:

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First of all, we have Russell Baker, the author himself. The story follows Russell as a young boy during The Great Depression in Virginia up until he is old enough to have his own grandchildren. Throughout his triumphs and struggles, we see his growing interest in storytelling, which eventually led to him becoming an acclaimed newspaper columnist and author.

Also central to the story is Lucy Baker, Russell's beloved mother. After the early death of her husband, Lucy has to care for her three children as a single parent during the difficult Depression era; because of her strong character, Lucy deals with this to the best of her ability and endeavors to bring up her children well.

Other noteworthy characters in the book include Russell's father, Benny, who is an alcoholic and a diabetic and dies at an early age; Lucy Baker's second husband, Herb Orrison, a railroad worker with whom Lucy has another child; Russell's younger sisters Doris and Audrey; and Russell's uncles Allen, Hal, Charlie, and Harold.

Toward the end of the book, Mimi, the woman Russell later weds, becomes an important and striking character due to her vivid and independent personality. At last, Russell's three children and his grandchildren also come into the story.


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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 204

Russell Baker's 1982 memoir, Growing Up, begins with the account of his childhood and young adulthood as the country endured the Great Depression and WWII. Baker's mother, Lucy, figures prominently in his memoir, and her story prompts him to leave a record for his own children when he realizes how much he wants them to know about his life.

Baker's mother is married to Benny, a man of whom she is not proud because of his alcoholism. Benny dies in the early years of the Depression, leaving Ruth to care for Baker and his younger sister, Doris. The family moves from Virginia to New Jersey to live with Baker's uncle Allen and aunt Pat. The combined family struggles through lean economic times.

Ida Rebecca is the mother of twelve boys and one girl. She is Baker's paternal grandmother and inspires Baker with her...

(The entire section contains 570 words.)

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