I Want to Know Why Characters
by Sherwood Anderson

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I Want to Know Why Characters

I Want to Know Why is a 1921 short story by American writer Sherwood Anderson.

The protagonist and main character in the story is unnamed throughout. A 16 year-old boy from Kentucky, he recounts the events of the story through the first person reflective narrative; the events in the story occurred one year prior. The character's commitment to learning the sport of race horsing is intense, and at one point he observes that,

I always am wanting to be a trainer or owner, and at the risk of being seen and caught and sent home I went to the paddocks before every race. The other boys didn't but I did.

The other major character in the story is Jerry Tillford, the trainer of the stallion Sunstreak. The narrator quickly develops a familial relationship with Tillford, noting that he "liked him...even more than I ever liked my own father."

The narrator's father is an attorney. While the reader is never introduced to him except through short descriptions of his personality, he plays a major role in the narrator's psychological complexions. The narrator lacks respect for his father, but doesn't necessarily dislike him.

Several of the narrator's friends are named, but their characters are not fully developed, and we only know they are adolescents from Kentucky who shared an interest in horses, albeit less intense than the narrator. They are Hanley Turner, Henry Rieback, and Tom Tumberton.