Montgomery’s Children is a densely populated novel. Its episodic structure, covering an extended period of time, permits a number of its characters to act in effect as temporary protagonists. Moreover, the characters interact with one another, moving within one another’s stories in complex and unpredictable ways. Of the many characters who populate the novel, there are four who seem to assume central importance in determining its structure. These are Norman Fillis, Hosea Malone, Gerald Fletcher, and Josephine Moore.
In the eyes of the world, Norman Fillis is simply crazy, but the world does not see as Norman sees. He enjoys an intimacy with nature that is lost to the community when the forest is destroyed to make way for the racetrack. He has witnessed both of the actions that may have inaugurated Montgomery’s reign of suffering: the flight of the animals and the burial of Meredith and Hosea’s seventh child. He is a man of vision and power. He can fly, he can teach others how to fly, and he envisions a day when all black people will fly. He has a message to pass on to the right one. In the eyes of the world, he is crazy.
Hosea is not crazy. Hosea has seen into the heart of things and has determined that there is nothing there. Since there is no God, since life is meaningless, there are no standards. Hosea’s power is negative. He withholds himself. He abandons Meredith and their children, and he will not give Alice the love...
(The entire section is 445 words.)