The Watson's Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a book about family and change. There is Kenny, the narrator of the story, Joetta who is Kenny's younger sister, Byron known as the trouble maker, and their parents Wilona, the mom and Daniel, the dad. They live in Flint, Michigan in a very cold time. Byron the troublemaker will do anything to get in trouble. He is known as the God at school. 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 Joetta 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. If the bombing happened somewhere else Joetta probably would have died. Since the heat is so juristic, Joetta would have never saw what she thought Kenny was 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 book, Joetta receives an angel from a neighbor of the Watson’s when they were living in Flint. The angel is supposed to represent her. Then, when Joetta gets the angel she sees that it has white skin and this is demeaning to her. This is a conventional type of symbol. Later in the story, 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 Joetta was dead in the bombing. The “Wool Pooh” represents death because Kenny saw the “Wool Pooh” as a terrible monster that was about to kill him or as 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. There dresses are red, white and blue which are the colors of the flag, and the flag means freedom and how African Americans should be treated equally, which would be conventional.

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 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.

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