The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis has many literary devices. This novel takes place in Flint, Michigan in 1963. There are many main characters. The storyteller is Kenny; his brother is Byron a mean bully, and Joey the little sister who will run to Byron’s aid at any given moment. Byron was bad so the family went to Alabama to visit Grandma Sands to teach Byron a lesson. When they are there, Joey goes to church and then the church is bombed. Kenny and his family resolve this conflict by going home.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 has many examples of symbolism. Symbolism is something representing something else. One example is the “Wool Pooh” which represents death. The “Wool Pooh” is unconventional. There are more symbols such as the Ultra Glide which represent a road trip because it can play Kenny’s family’s music and not hillbilly music. The Ultra glide is unconventional. Another symbol is the Angel. It is important because Kenny sees it when he is drowning and is encouraged to swim upwards. The Angel represents protection. It can be conventional and unconventional.

There are many characters in The Watsons Go to Birmingham. Some major characters are Kenny and Byron. The author reveals the character Kenny by starting out “It was so cold that if you were stupid enough to go outside your eyes would automatically blink a thousand times all by themselves, probably so the juice inside of them wouldn’t freeze up.”(pg.1) This tells everyone that most likely Kenny is a little kid, because he is stretching the truth. The author reveals Byron’s character when the author says, “Byron had just turned thirteen so he was officially a teenage juvenile delinquent and didn’t think it was “cool” to touch anybody or let anyone touch him, even if it meant he froze to death.” (pg. 2) This shows that he thinks he is “cool” and a juvenile delinquent. In this novel there are dynamic and flat characters. One dynamic character is Byron because everything revolves around him, everything happens because of him. The Watsons go to Birmingham because he was so bad. Rufus is a flat character because he does not change and does not change Kenny. He is just there and still makes Kenny get bullied, nothing changes. Some characters are foil characters such as Buphead. Buphead changes Byron but does not change himself. He gives Byron a “conk” and that makes it so Byron has his head shaved. That changes Byron.

There are many examples of Setting in this story. A big setting is the cold in Flint and it is very hot in Alabama. I learn about the setting when the author tells us about it. You can tell when the author says “It was one of those super-duper-cold Saturdays.”(pg.1) This tells the reader that it is very cold. The reader learns about the setting when the characters describe it. The setting is very important in this story because if it was not hot Kenny would not have gone swimming and then he would not have almost drowned. Another reason is if it was not as cold as it was in Flint, than Momma would not have made Kenny and Joey wears big heavy coats. They would have not complained and Byron would not have told his story of the “Froze up Southern folk.” That is why the setting is important.


The Watsons Go to Birmingham tells the story of Kenny the narrator and Byron the bully. How they change using symbolism, characters, and setting. Byron changes when in Alabama and kenny changes after the bombing.The reader can identify these literary devices when they read. In conclusion The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis has a multitude of literary devices.

Add Discussion