A Different Drummer By William Melvin Kelley Character Analysis Dewey Willson

Dewey is a symbol of a significant group of white Americans within the novel. Dewey grew up with Tucker; Tucker was a large part of his early years, but David was uninterested in the psychological make-up of the boy. Dewey and Tucker played together and slept in the same room. Tucker taught Dewey how to ride a bicycle. Tucker advised him. But Dewey never knew very much about Tucker or any of the other blacks around him. To Dewey, Tucker was an invisible man, a man seen in terms of his being a servant of the Willson family.

When Dewey returns home from his first year at college, we see proof of how thoroughly invisible the blacks are for him. At the depot, there are large crowds of blacks leaving Sutton, but Dewey does not see these people. He only sees those who are in service positions — porters and the like. More important, Dewey is oblivious to the conditions under which blacks live; he cannot understand why Tucker would want to leave Sutton. Dewey is incapable of thinking of blacks in terms of their humanity. He is the epitome of the unconscious racist.

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