Rex “Fishbelly” Tucker is a character whose personality is developed according to the rules both of naturalism and of psychoanalysis. His early life is revealed through a series of episodes that focus on significant moments of what Sigmund Freud called “infantile experience”; these episodes are then shown as having significant effects on his later life. In one example, Fishbelly finds a discarded condom in a vacant lot, and he and his friends naturally turn it into a plaything. They are then told by an older neighbor, Chris Sims, that the thing is dirty and that they should not be seen with it. The boys are shocked to hear from Chris the purpose of the thing and to find out where it had been. This experience has a significant effect on the development of sexual attitudes in each of the young men. When Chris is later lynched for having been found in a hotel room with a white woman, Fishbelly’s attraction to and repulsion from sexual behavior become even more pronounced.
Tyree Tucker, Fishbelly’s father, also contributes to young Fishbelly’s anxiety. Tyree is perhaps the most complex character in the novel; he reveals depth of character unexpected in a seemingly conformist resident of Clintonville’s Black Belt. Tyree leads a double life. By day, he is the most respected black undertaker in town; at night he oversees a variety of operations, from slum housing to brothels to juke joints. Wright portrays his character objectively in the first...
(The entire section is 571 words.)