Early in the novel, Scooter remarks that his hero, Luzana Cholly, “was forever turning guitar strings into train whistles which were not only the once-upon-a-time voices of storytellers but of all the voices saying what was being said in the stories as well.” These are also the voices of the characters in Murray’s novelistic storytelling, a cross section of the “blues people” (to borrow a phrase from the contemporary African American writer Amiri Baraka) whom Murray knew in the rural South of his boyhood—ordinary people who spoke with extraordinary wisdom in an extraordinary new style of American English as they composed a heroic life and heritage. The artistic style of these voices, as exemplified in the novel’s narration, is a major device used by Murray for characterization. Another device is the content spoken by these voices, as Scooter talks about the members of his family and the people of his town and as they talk about one another and about him.
Characterization is accomplished mainly through talk, especially as Scooter relates and comments upon conversations among persons around him, discussing conversational styles and attitudinal content. He also reports, interprets, and sometimes explains people’s clothing styles, gestures, food, habits, achievements or failures, reputations, special acts and responses, histories, and stories they are known for telling about their own lives. Scooter’s characterizations of persons are corroborated by remarks by Little Buddy Marshall and by other observers and storytellers in the community, or...
(The entire section is 643 words.)