Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 20, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1409

Another Us
Another Us, later indicated as Young Man and The Grass Chewer, lies on his back chewing a piece of grass. He tells the others that he is not concerned with the White Devils, stating that "when I get ready to go up that hill—I'm going!" But he promptly rolls over and goes to sleep, indicating his apathetic attitude toward the idea of putting any effort into fighting for racial equality.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Purple Flower Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Another Young Us
Like the first Young Us, Another Young Us argues with the Old Lady that working hard does not accomplish anything in terms of improving the socioeconomic status of the Us's.

Average argues that what's needed to improve the status of the Us's is "the right leaders." He is critical of the idea of holding a meeting to talk about what can be done, asserting that talking gets them nowhere. Average also expresses hopelessness about the Us's ever making it up the hill. Average represents an average attitude of complacency about the status of the Us's. He tells the other Us's that they "better stay safe and sound" where they are, because at least they have food and shelter. The average person, this character indicates, would rather accept what he has than take the risk of fighting for greater equality.

Cornerstone argues that the problem is not a lack of good leaders to stove for greater equality but the lack of unity among Us's, which makes the leaders' work ineffective. She points out that holding a meeting is important because talking is better than not talking. When her son Finest Blood volunteers to sacrifice his blood to the conjurer, Cornerstone volunteers to sacrifice her own blood instead but is persuaded not to. The Old Man eventually convinces her that it is important for Finest Blood to confront the White Devils. Cornerstone represents the cornerstone of her community, supporting others in their efforts to work toward equality for the Us's and yet remaining protective of her son and daughter.

First Young Us
Young Us, later referred to as First Young Us, argues with the Old Lady that there's no point in working hard all one's life if it "doesn't get you anywhere.'' He compares a life of labor to "boring around in the same hole like a worm,'' which only results in "making the hole bigger to stay in." A Young Us represents the viewpoint that simply laboring away at the type of menial job available to the African Americans will not accomplish anything in terms of improving the socioeconomic status of the race. The Young Us later argues with the Old Us that he should not spend so much time talking to God to ask for His help but should give God a chance to talk to him. The Young Us is later full of skepticism when the Old Man tries conjuring to help the Us's.

The Grass Chewer
See Another Us

The Man of the Gold Bags
See The Newcomer

The Middle-Aged Woman
See Cornerstone

The Newcomer
The Newcomer, described as "a square-set middle-aged Us," walks up to the group of Us's carrying a heavy bag of gold, which he drops to the ground. He explains that, even though he has money, it doesn't get him anywhere, because the White Devils refuse to sell him any land or property on the hill. His character represents the effects of racial prejudice that prevents even financially successful African Americans from buying homes or other property in desirable locations.

An Old Lady
The Old Lady laments that she will never live to see the purple flower. She insists that"something's got to be done" about the White Devils, but she is convinced that "we ain't never going to make that hill'' The Old Lady represents an attitude of defeatism, because she has spent her whole life working like a slave for white people and has lost hope of ever attaining racial equality.

An Old Man
The Old Man arrives beating a drum, which gets the attention of all of the Us's. After an Old Woman states...

(The entire section contains 1409 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Purple Flower study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Purple Flower content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Critical Essays
  • Analysis
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial



Critical Essays