By Nathan Garner
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It also shows the tremendous effect of blacks upon the lives of whites. Tucker's actions and the migration of the black people leave nearly all of the whites stunned with shock and disbelief that a black man could take such independent action. Harry Leland, David Willson, and Dewey Willson are the only whites who even begin to understand the depth of the frustrations suffered by black men under the southern social system. Readers who insist upon categorizing novels within a racial context as black or white or Indian, for example, may be somewhat confused by the fact that the major characters of this novel seem to be white.
4. What has caused David to lose the "something" that Tucker retains? 5. How are the images of the wheelchair and Mister Harper related? 6. Explain Bennett Bradshaw's relationship to Christ. 7. How does the South affect the relationship between Tucker and Bethrah? 8. Discuss Tucker as a "primitive" man. 9. Interpret the role of each of the men on the porch. 10. Contrast Mister Leland with Mister Harper. 11. Explain the dilemma of Harry Leland. How does he resolve it? 12. How does the fact that the story takes place in an imaginary state add to the novel's effectiveness?
Both men, through their heroic and somewhat mysterious nature, become heroes within the folklore of the region. Kelley's use of this form may be seen as an indirect refutation of the common belief that American blacks have no historical or mythical store on which to build a literature and culture. The novel, then, falls somewhat within the genre of the historical novel, although its concern is more with the social heritage than with facts, dates, and battles. Note, however, that a battle (usually the crux of historical novels) is fought; here, the battle occurs in the mind of Dewey Willson between the personifications of the social forces then and now at war in the South.
A Different Drummer by Nathan Garner