(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The small number of characters may indicate that Doctorow has thought of World's Fair as a novel quite different in kind from...

(The entire section is 330 words.)

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Since Edgar is the first-person narrator for most of this novel, he naturally becomes the most fully developed character. This point of view permits full revelation of Edgar’s thoughts and feelings, but it constrains and sometimes distorts the presentation of other characters. As a child Edgar, acts only within a small realm, and his knowledge is sorely limited. Thus, his narrative cannot easily follow other family members into the larger world and interpret their actions soundly. In one of the seven sections of the novel not seen through Edgar’s eyes, Donald observes, “It’s only natural that we remember things differently.” Those sections narrated by Donald, Rose, and Aunt Frances do correct and amplify Edgar’s story, but they are not long enough (only twenty-eight pages) to provide full development of other characters.

Edgar’s central role as narrator is entirely appropriate, however, for a novel focusing on growth from infancy to the brink of adolescence. At the age of nine, Edgar does not complete his rite of passage into maturity, but he has encountered episodes of senseless violence, sudden death, mature sexuality, and the fallibility of adult protectors. Such experiences bring partial but painful knowledge, and Edgar gradually develops from naïve pre-schooler to more perceptive student of life. Even if he remains somewhat callow, his responses thus far predict further progress in maturation and illumination.


(The entire section is 466 words.)