The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963
Evan M.
Literary Analysis

The Watsons go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis uses many literary devices in it. Though I think the two he uses the most are symbolism and theme. Kenny, who is the main character, has a nutty family with a juvenile brother, a short-tempered mother, a tattle tale sister and a crazy dad. One thing that really got Byron in trouble was when he went over the edge at the beginning of the book when his bully friend, Buphead, straightened his hair and dyed it. His parents get really mad at him, and finally say they are taking a trip to Alabama. Alabama was an extremely segregated state at the time, so they expected Byron to learn a lesson about the world and how bad it can be. When they got there, Joey went to church for Sunday school, and some racist people threw a bomb into her classroom. This was the main conflict of the book.

Symbolism is a large chunk of what this book is supposed to mean. Like when Byron throws a cookie at what is supposed to be a very tough bird, it just knocks the bird off the lamppost and kills it. This shows lots of symbolism because Byron could be the bird, and the cookie, so simple, could be his problems. Another example could be when Kenny almost drowned from the whirlpool, he thinks he sees Byron's made-up creation, the Wool Pooh. In this case the Wool Pooh represents death, and it is trying to pull Kenny into the lake. Kenny gets out when Byron finds him and pulls him out.

Theme is the device that really makes the story enjoyable. It helps create the rising action, the climax, and controls the falling action. The main themes are family, trouble, and segregation. The three theme all have a part of the story they are in charge of, like rising action, climax, and falling action. Family is big because it forms the falling action, and almost solves the resolution. It turns Byron from a bully to a nice, caring and dynamic character. Segregation is one of the largest because it causes the main conflict, or climax. It leads the Klu Klux Klan to throw that bomb into Joey's church, and why the Watsons live in Flint, Michigan instead of down south. Trouble is the thing that causes all of the rising action, and uses Byron to make bad decisions. Trouble causes Byron to straighten his hair then dye it, therefore putting the Watsons over edge and going to Alabama. Though overall, segregation is the biggest theme in this book.

After really thinking about the literary devices in this story, it is easy to tell what Christopher Paul Curtis was meaning to do with this book. He meant to make a good book to read with his symbolism and themes, and an informal book dedicated to the Alabama bombing of 1963.

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