Tattoo the Wicked Cross Characters

Floyd Salas

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The story is told from Aaron’s perspective. Aaron is the most developed of all the characters. He must pit his survival skills against the other youths and against the prison itself. He is an individual with convictions. His interior monologues let the reader know how he feels about his prison experience. Initially, he is cautious in his contacts with other prisoners. No matter how he feels inside, he does not let others know his inner feelings. His introspection and analysis of his circumstances moves the story along briskly.

Barneyway, Aaron’s friend, has succumbed to prison life and become a “queen” as a result of Buzzer’s brutish force. Although Barneyway is not the same forceful person he was outside prison, Aaron still wants him as a friend. He finds it painful to see what has happened to Barneyway. Barneyway’s characterization shows the reader what happens to some youths in prison and the kind of adaptation sometimes necessary to survive.

Buzzer shows how cruel a person can become when there is nothing holding him back. Prison rewards Buzzer for his large size and lack of a conscience. The most developed characteristics of Buzzer are his cruelty and ruthlessness. He has acquired precisely those characteristics that the prison tries to eliminate. There is no pretense of rehabilitation for him. Buzzer’s almost unchecked power is seen each time he comes into the reader’s view. He is evil personified.


(The entire section is 408 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Aaron D’Aragon

Aaron D’Aragon, a Latino adolescent, a pachuco, and a gang leader sent to prison for fighting. He is the protagonist of the novel. Although Aaron is small for his age, he is quite a fighter, like a bantam rooster. Upon entering prison, he is not sure of himself and is intimidated by the director of the prison. He looks forward to seeing an ally while he is in prison, his good friend Barneyway. He hears disturbing rumors that Barneyway is a “queen.” Aaron’s main tormentor is Buzzer, a cruel and ruthless prison leader. After he is raped by Buzzer and his gang, Aaron vows to Barneyway that they will no longer be victims. Aaron must reconcile his religious beliefs, which say to “turn the other cheek.” He decides to take revenge on Buzzer and his gang by poisoning them, but he inadvertently kills Barneyway as well. Because of these acts of murder, he gains the respect and attention of the other inmates, and he begins to serve his time with dignity.


Buzzer, the antagonist of the story. Buzzer represents evil, and Aaron represents good. Buzzer is ruthless and mean, and anyone who crosses his path is dealt with severely. Aaron wants nothing to do with him, but eventually Aaron is brutally sodomized and beaten by Buzzer and his gang. After being hospitalized because of the beating, Aaron feels humiliated, not so much because of the beating but because he has been “gang banged.” Buzzer has always had his way and does not think...

(The entire section is 615 words.)