Much of what we learn about Lemon Brown emerges from the conversation that he and Greg have before and after they chase the thugs away from the abandoned house. Myers uses dialogue to deliver the words of the characters as people might actually say them in real life.
This helps the reader observe the characters in action. The style of how they say what they say is important: Lemon speaks like an old blues man, born and raised in the South, while Greg speaks like an urban teenager. But the content of what they say is also important, as it allows readers to absorb what the characters are learning from one another and what the author wants their interaction to teach. In the following conversation, for example, Lemon and Greg debate whether Lemon actually has a treasure in characteristic style: Using dialogue allows Myers to show, rather than simply narrate or summarize, the lesson that Greg learns from Lemon.
Young Adult Literature
‘‘The Treasure of Lemon Brown’’ has achieved success as a work of young adult literature. This genre is not defined by any strict stylistic or content guidelines, because teenagers, like older readers, have a wide variety of tastes in fiction. But more often than not, young adult literature features young adult characters. Young adult readers of ‘‘The Treasure of Lemon Brown’’ find a main character who is himself young and going through a transformative moment. Greg faces a frustrating situation (his grades and his father’s response to them) and finds new strength to approach these challenges when he meets and helps Lemon Brown. The focus of the story is not the setting or the social problem of homelessness, though these play important roles. Rather, the focus is on the development of Greg as a person. Myers is known for his skill in this area. For example, in her biography of the author, Presenting Walter Dean Myers , Rudine Sims Bishop attributes Myers’s success to his focus on characters, writing that his works appeal to young readers because he ‘‘knows and cares about the things that concern his readers and because he creates characters that readers care about and are happy to spend time with.’’
Sara Constantakis – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 31, Walter Dean Myers, Published by Gale Group, 2010