The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Scooter as a narrator serves two functions in the plot. At one level, he is the older narrator who has escaped from the briarpatch to become one of those who are qualifying instead of just signifying, to paraphrase the character Dewitt Dawkins. Thus Scooter as narrator brings a sophisticated understanding to the plot as well as a perspective on the significance of the events that occur. Secondarily, Scooter is the teenager and young man who manages, unlike many others, to avoid all the hazards that await an African American male growing up in the South in the 1930’s. Scooter exhibits this double perspective through his fascination and interest not just in the intellectual life, but also in the active popular culture, of Gasoline Point, consisting mainly of blues, baseball, and nicknames.

The young Scooter is chosen by the teachers at Mobile County Training Academy as one of the academically talented elite. While he is going through the transition from adolescence to adulthood, he is aided by a wide-reaching network of supportive adults in Gasoline Point. Miss Tee, who is revealed to be Scooter’s biological mother, aids him in his education by making him promise to fulfill his potential. Scooter’s adoptive parents also urge him to become somebody “worthwhile.” Even Luzana Cholly, the itinerant blues musician, makes Scooter promise not to follow in his tracks, riding the rails from town to town, but to place all of his attention on his education.


(The entire section is 604 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Scooter, the otherwise unnamed narrator, a young African American boy who grows up in Mobile, Alabama, and later attends Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. Scooter’s childhood consists mainly of baseball and blues music until he begins attending Mobile County Training School, where he falls under the influence of some memorable teachers. They instill in him the belief that nothing can stop him but his own limitations, and they help him to obtain a scholarship to Tuskegee Institute, the famous central Alabama African American college. There Scooter acquires a somewhat eccentric roommate from Chicago and becomes involved with the local jazz performers. He finally puts all of his skills to the test when he helps to end a potential racial conflict by riding shotgun, armed with a .38 automatic.

Little Buddy Marshall

Little Buddy Marshall, the narrator’s best friend while growing up. Little Buddy is in many ways the opposite of the narrator. Instead of excelling at Mobile County Training School, Little Buddy drops out of school and begins to ride the rails.

Luzana Cholly

Luzana Cholly, a blues singer, master of the twelve-string guitar, and mentor to the two boys. Though a rider of the rails himself, he discourages the boys from emulating his life and drifting from town to town.

Lexine Metcalf

Lexine Metcalf, one of the teachers at the Mobile...

(The entire section is 482 words.)