Your Blues Ain't Like Mine Characters

Bebe Moore

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Although Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine is a third-person narrative, Campbell does not write as an omniscient narrator. Instead, she works from within the mind of one character after another, describing events as each character perceives them and at the same time revealing the thoughts and memories of that character. From the opening scene, in which Lily wonders about her own response to the plantation workers’ songs she hears in the distance, to the final one, in which Wydell realizes that he has broken through to his rebellious son, the most important actions in the novel occur inside the minds of the characters.

Each of Campbell’s characters begins with an inheritance. Lily, Floyd, and Clayton, for example, are what they are partly because of their families. Because in her childhood she often saw her father beat her mother and was herself molested by an uncle, Lily assumes that men have the right to dominate women. Similarly, from his father Floyd has absorbed his definition of manhood as well as his knowledge that he does not measure up to his father’s standard. Unlike Lily and Floyd, Clayton has rejected the value judgments of his family, but he, too, is ruled by them.

Campbell is not a determinist but a moralist; therefore, her characters face choices, make them, and change, for better or for worse, as the novel proceeds. Some, such as Floyd, become increasingly dominated by evil. Others, such as Ida, become increasingly...

(The entire section is 433 words.)

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Armstrong Todd, a fifteen-year-old African American from Chicago, is portrayed as someone caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is accustomed to the more accepting North and tests the limits of acceptance in the South when he speaks French to Lily Cox. Tragically, he finds that the South is not ready to accept a black man who is educated and has the presumption to show that he is educated. Armstrong is portrayed as an intelligent young man with a promising future; however, there is a daring streak in him which is eager to challenge the established order. It is this streak that causes him to offend Floyd Cox and that eventually causes his death.

Floyd Cox, an uneducated white man, is painted as an almost stereotypical bigoted white Southern male. He and his family are poor, and Floyd and his wife Lily are the poorest of the entire family. He and Lily both dream of a better life, but Floyd is caught by both economic conditions and his own attitude. Like his peers, he believes that if it were not for blacks, he would be better off economically. When Armstrong speaks French to his wife, the act is all the provocation Floyd needs. His manhood has been threatened, and he reports the incident to his father and brother. They goad him into teaching Armstrong a lesson. Floyd really does not want to provoke a fight; he is content to exaggerate his previous confrontation. Yet he goes along with Lester and John Earl, showing his basic inability to make major decisions for himself. The need to fit in and go along with the established order is too strong for him.

Lily Cox, Floyd’s wife, does not agree...

(The entire section is 664 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Armstrong Todd

Armstrong Todd, a fifteen-year-old African American boy from Chicago who is sent to stay temporarily with his grandmother in Hopewell, Mississippi. Armstrong is a good-looking, outgoing boy whose only fault, an adolescent tendency to show off, is enough to get him murdered.

Delotha Todd

Delotha Todd, his mother, a vibrant, ambitious woman who has left Hopewell for Chicago to better herself. After Armstrong’s death, she is determined to replace him with another son. This obsession wrecks her marriage and nearly ruins the life of her younger boy.

Wydell Todd

Wydell Todd, Armstrong’s father, an attractive man who loves Delotha but is overwhelmed by her. Whenever she shows more interest in her ambitions or her children than in him, Wydell drowns his sorrows in drink. When Delotha turns to him for help, as she does at the end of the novel, he can be a nurturing and responsible father.

Lily Cox

Lily Cox, a young white woman from a poor family who quit school at the age of sixteen to marry Floyd Cox. After the murder, she becomes the target of her husband’s frustrations, and eventually she is sent to a mental institution. She finally takes refuge with her daughter Doreen.

Floyd Cox

Floyd Cox, Lily’s husband, the owner of a pool hall patronized by African Americans. Floyd is a coward and a bully, governed by his...

(The entire section is 401 words.)