The black boy and the narrator are friends. The black boy has a job pushing people in chairs to see the sights along the boardwalk. He lives on the beach and is quite poor. Despite his poverty, he has an active fantasy life. With his imagination, he can create a beautiful world in which he can be anything he wants to be. He is a bright and self-confident boy, whose caring nature and optimism belies the racist beliefs held by 1930s American society.
The narrator of the story is a girl about 10 or 12 years old. Her mother is dead, and the narrator lives with her grandfather, Puss, in an oceanside town. She spends a lot of time on the beach, sometimes riding her horse and other times talking to her friend, the black boy. The narrator is very observant and perceptive. She notices details about people and things that surround her, and she also clearly sees her grandfather’s distasteful treatment of minorities. She is open-minded, going along with the black boy’s fantasies and seeing the beauty in what his words describe.
Puss is the narrator’s grandfather. He has fussy and particular tastes. One of his favorite activities is hiring a boy to push him and his granddaughter in a chair along the boardwalk. He likes to look at the shops along the way. He is more at home in the world of civilization rather than the natural world. He holds racist beliefs and does not trust the black boy whom his granddaughter befriends, even though he makes no effort to get to know the boy.
Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 14, Kay Boyle – Published by Gale Cengage Learning.