The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

June Jordan’s conception of character presentation is the fundamental component in her development of the narrative in His Own Where. To present the mind and heart of protagonist Buddy Rivers as intensely as possible, she has written the book almost entirely from his perspective, using primilary present-tense narration in the form of a stream-of-consciousness projection of his thoughts at the moment that they occur. Jordan alters the conventional rules of syntax to concentrate on the most appropriate word clusters to express Buddy’s emotions and to illustrate the process of his thinking at the moment each thought is formed. The structure of each sentence—or, more appropriately in many cases, each line, since the separate units of meaning often resemble lines in a contemporary poem—is determined by the logic of his understanding of a situation rather than by conventional rules of grammar. For example, in a description of a family dinner, Buddy’s reactions to the surroundings are presented in a catalog of sensory stimuli and his responses to them.The perspiration smell of toilet water. Buddy, helping carve, he feel the swarm of aunts and uncles cousins. Feel them sweaty near, amazing and predictable. And rhinestones and the wellmade gray-plaid special suit. The hugging and the jokes. The sudden ashtrays and his mother in a brandnew apron serving. Serving and remote. Retreating to the kitchen sink excuse from laughter where the family relax drink rum...

(The entire section is 532 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Buddy Rivers

Buddy Rivers, the protagonist, a sixteen-year-old living alone while his father remains in serious condition following a traffic accident. The narrative action, which takes place over several months, is presented almost entirely from his perspective and is located primarily within the flow of his consciousness. He has been living with his father since his mother returned to her native Barbados. During the course of the narrative, he becomes friendly with Angela, a young woman who is the daughter of the nurse caring for his father in a hospital. Buddy is immediately attracted to her, sensing that she can appreciate the inner qualities of reflective sensitivity and aesthetic discrimination that he guards behind a protective shield of street wit and brash vitality. He is keenly observant and verbally exuberant, and he has a reputation as a leader at Boys High School. He is also thoughtful, almost philosophical, about the social ills he sees everywhere. His relatively harsh life has compelled him to grow up quickly, but he is neither cynical nor vicious, and he has been inspired by his father’s example to want to plan, build, and improve his immediate environment. His relationship with Angela is driven by love and hope, and there seems to be some possibility that they will not replicate the anger and hostility that has torn both of their families apart.

Angela Figueroa

Angela Figueroa, the oldest of five...

(The entire section is 565 words.)