The Watson's Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a book about family and change. Wilona and Daniel have three children in this story. There is Kenny, the narrator of the story, Joetta or Joey for short who is Kenny's younger sister, and Byron known as the trouble maker. They live in Flint, Michigan in a very cold time. Byron is known as the God at school, and he will do anything to get into trouble. Wilona and Daniel cannot handle Byron anymore. Additionally, they take the family to Alabama and are planning to have Byron stay there. While in Alabama, they are faced with many challenges. One of them being that they think Joey has died in a church from a bombing. They find out that she is not injured and did not even witness the bombing anyway. They go back to Flint, Michigan with everybody safe.

Setting is one of the biggest parts of this book. First of all, Momma makes them wrap up in a ton of coats so they do not get to cold. Momma is from the south, and she is used to warm weather. Another example was if Kenny never went into the church that was bombed, he would have never seen how tragic it was and he would have never been able to tell the readers what it looked like and what he saw. For instance, when Kenny said, "I walked past people lying around in little balls on grass crying and twitching." If Kenny was not there we would not have seen what the bombing was like. Also, if the bombing had happened somewhere else where the Watson’s were Joey probably would have died. Since the heat is so drastic, instead of Joey staying at the church Joey thought she saw Kenny and ran back to the house. Her brain was basically melted from the heat and she saw a random figure that looked like Kenny and followed it back home where she was safe. For instance, if it was a normal not warm day she would have stayed in the church and probably would have died or been seriously injured.

Christopher Paul Curtis made symbolism a very important part of the book. Symbolism is representing something or someone else. At the beginning of the story, Joey received an angel from her neighbor. Her neighbor told her that the angel always reminded her of Joey, but the angel had white skin and Joey has black skin. This was very demeaning to Joey, but she did not know what the angel really represented. The angel represents hope. The readers recognized this later in the story when Kenny was about to die from the “Wool Pooh” when he sees Joey as an angel in the water. At the end Kenny was saved from Byron, and he did not die. Also, when the Watson’s think that Joey’s dead, Kenny sees an angel at the church. Afterwards, Joey did not get hurt. This symbol is unconventional. Also when Kenny wants to go swimming, he sees the “Wool Pooh” when he is about to die. He also saw the “Wool Pooh” when he thought Joey was dead in the bombing. The “Wool Pooh” represents death because Kenny saw the “Wool Pooh” as a terrible monster that he thought was about to kill him when he was about to die. This symbol is an unconventional symbol. Also at the bombing of the church, Kenny saw three little African American girls. They were in red, white, and blue dresses. They were all lying on the grass dead. Their dresses are red, white, and blue which are the colors of the flag. The flag means freedom and how African Americans should be treated equally, which would be a conventional symbol.

Another big literary device used in the story is characterization. If the characters were not how they were in the story, the book would never have been the way it is. Christopher Paul Curtis makes characters seem one way but then at the end of the book they have changed a lot. For example, at the beginning of the book Christopher Paul Curtis made Byron seem like this tough person, but towards the end of the book he was crying and letting his emotions go. Christopher Paul Curtis also made it so that Byron did not care about much. For instance, when Byron dies his hair and got his hair straightened, he did not care about what people thought of him. Possibly, because people at school worship him and they would think it was cool. Then, his parents shaved it off and Byron was bald.


The Watson’s Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a book about family and change. There are three main literary devices in this novel. Setting, symbolism, and characterization are the biggest parts of the book. At the end of this novel, Kenny is in shock over everything that happened. Then, Byron a character who has changed so much throughout the book has helped Kenny get over himself and get over all the things that have happened. Christopher Paul Curtis made this book about the bombing of the church in Birmingham, Alabama the main part of the book. He wanted people to know about how terrible it really was and how disgusting people could be about African American people. Christopher Paul Curtis did not only make people remember about the bombing and how terrible it was that people would want to kill four little girls but he made people feel so sorry and so bad for the four dead girls. Also, he made people feel hatred for the people who did that or who would even want to do that.

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